Increase Muscle Strength Using Only Your Mind

Yes, it does sound too good to be true, but it has scientific backing! When you start a training regime tailored for increased muscle strength, the initial gains you achieve result mainly from changes in the nervous system! With this in mind, researchers set up an experiment to see whether just visualising muscle specific exercises could increase muscle strength.

Thirty healthy adults were split into 3 groups: Imagining exercising their little finger, imagining exercising their biceps and no imaginary exercise for the control group. Results showed that those imagining exercising their little finger increased strength by 53% and those imagining their biceps workout increased strength by 13.4%!

The measurements of brain activity that were recorded during visualisation suggest that the strength gains are a result of the improvement in the brain’s ability to send signals to the muscle and activate the muscle fibres.


Ranganathan VK, Siemionowa V, Liu JZ, Sahgal V, Yue GH, From Mental Power to Muscle Power; gaining Strength by using the Mind, Neuropsychology, 2004, 42, 944-56.

About the Author

Job Role Sports Nutritionist and Social Media Coordinator Qualifications Bsc Sport and Exercise Science Steph has a competitive athletic background which spans 19 years. As a child she performed with the English Youth Ballet and had performed on the West End stage by the age of 10. Her enthusiasm for sport and fitness continued to grow as she did, encouraging her to learn more about nutrition and training. She began using her knowledge and personal experience to help others when she began coaching at the age of 16. From here, she went on to study Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Essex during which time she also received the Most Promising Newcomer Award from her University to mark her outstanding contribution to sport. During her first year of study she was introduced to partner stunt acrobatics and artistic gymnastics. After one year of dedicating herself to a lifestyle revolving around her sport, she was training with the best team in the UK who are currently ranked fifth in the world. Steph has worked in both the private and public sector coaching children and adults from grassroot to elite level as well as providing them with cutting edge advice on how to reach their goals. Steph has received awards for her choreography and has competed nationally and internationally meaning that she can back up her scientific knowledge with a wealth of experience. As our resident Sports Nutritionist, Steph is here to provide the most current and evidence based fitness, health and nutrition information to help you reach your health and fitness goals.
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