Can your brain make you buff? Imaginary workouts can build strength and fuel weight loss

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Breakthrough research in the field of exercise physiology has yielded stunning revelations about the way we get fit. The big surprise, though, is not what we “have” to do, but what we might “not” have to do.

Our thoughts can literally redefine the size, shape and strength of our bodies.

For decades, exercise scientists have worked to discover how we get fit. Getting stronger, we were told, was about creating enough resistance in a muscle to create millions of micro-tears that would, over days, weeks and months, rebuild themselves, bigger, leaner and stronger. So when we lift weights, sprint or engage in pretty much any kind of exercise, we set this whole process in motion.

The entire cycle is known as hypertrophy and it’s always been considered a pretty mechanical experience. Weight loss has been tossed off with similar assumptions. Regardless of he method used for short-term weight loss, sustained loss always comes back to calories in and calories out.

Nothing foofy, just hard work. Thus, the famed old coach’s chant, “no pain, no gain!” But, what if we could make a change to that slogan?

No pain…huge gains.

It seems there may be a giant kink in this system. And, it has to do with the brain’s role in whole process.

Building muscle, it turns out, is not nearly as mechanical as we thought. And, in fact, a recent study by Erin M. Shackell and Lionel G. Standing at Bishop’s University reveals you may be able to make nearly identical gains in strength and fitness without lifting a finger!

That study measured the strength gains in three different groups of people. The first group did nothing outside their usual routine. The second group was put through two weeks of highly focused strength training for one specific muscle, three times a week. The third group listened to audio CDs that guided them to imagine themselves going through the same workout as the exercising group, three times a week.

And, the results blew everyone away.

The control group, who didn’t do anything, saw no gains in strength. The exercise group, who trained three times a week, saw a 28% gain in strength. No big surprises there. But, the group who did not exercise, but rather thought about exercising experienced nearly the same gains in strength as the exercise group (24%). Yes, you read that right!

The group that visualized exercised got nearly the same benefit, in terms of strength-gains, as the group that actually worked-out.

All of which leaves us with two big questions:

  • How in the word did this work? And,
  • Does this mean I can really get totally buff without ever working out?

Question 1 – How can your brain make you buff?

Okay, the answer to the first question—how does this work—is…we don’t really know, with certainty. We do know, however, that muscle conditioning and, in fact, all aspects of fitness and performance, are not nearly as purely mechanical as we once thought.

Your mind plays a massive role in at least two distinct ways

Through it’s connection to the endocrine system (the body’s chemical plant), different thoughts and mental states release hormones that can dramatically accelerate or retard muscle growth. In fact, some people, in search of a way to speed the process, ingest or inject extra amounts of these or similar chemicals. We all know what these are—steroids and their various derivatives. Not the smartest choice.

Other chemicals work on different organs to either fire-up or slow-down your metabolism in the blink of an eye, causing your to either burn a ton of calories lightning-fast or nose-dive into a slow burn.

In fact, a Harvard study reported in February 2007 further bolstered the impact of your thoughts on calories burned.

In that study, the housekeeping staff in a major hotel were told that what they did on a daily basis qualified as the amount of exercise needed to be fit and healthy. They made no changes in behavior, just kept on doing their job. Same as always.

Four weeks later, those housekeepers had lost weight, lowered blood pressure, body-fat percentage, waist-hip ratio and BMI. A similar group of housekeepers who had not been led to believe their job qualified as exercise saw none of these changes.

Simply believing their jobs were exercise caused their bodies to change. Unreal!

But, there’s something beyond the link between thoughts and chemistry, when it comes to the specific quest to gain strength. Chemistry may help accelerate the growth of muscle, but, it turns out…

…strength may not be nearly as much about muscle size or hypertrophy as we thought.

In addition to its chemical system, your body has at least one major electrical system—the nervous system. The signal that makes a muscle contract begins as an electrical impulse in your brain. That impulse is transmitted through your body’s electrical circuitry or nerves to your muscle.

How efficiently that impulse is delivered and how receptive your muscle is to that impulse determines, in large part, how forcefully that muscle can contract. The more fully and the faster it contracts, the stronger we say it is. We call this process neuromuscular facilitation.

Now, here’s the rub. You can turbo-charge your body’s electrical impulse system by repeatedly “visualizing” a muscle contracting, without ever actually contracting it. Based on this knowledge, we’ve known, for years, that visualization is a great way to slow down the loss of strength during recovery from an injury.

But, the big news is that simply visualizing an exercise may provide a nearly equivalent strength-building benefit as actually working-out.

More studies will go along way toward confirming this. And, if it’s for real, wow, can you imagine the opportunities. Now, what about that second question…

Question 2 – Does this mean I really can get totally buff without ever working out?

The short answer is—probably not…yet! Exercise, gains in muscle size and weight loss are all extremely complex processes. There is a ton going on all at once, which is why almost every study done on exercise is causative, not correlative.

It’s much easier to say weight loss and strength gains are “correlated” with exercise, than to say they are “caused” by exercise. Because, it’s nearly impossible to isolate what elements of exercise or “thinking about” exercise are doing what.

So, for now, a really well conceived “visualized” workout may yield similar gains in strength. But, we are not yet able to say it is possible to think your way thin or think your muscles bigger. The key phrase in that sentence, though, was “for now.”

I am incredibly excited about the potential of highly-efficient, virtualized workouts in the near future.

Applications include everything from accelerating rehab to slowing disease-related muscle degeneration, and, yes, even delivering the ultimate, sweat-free, lazy-man/woman’s workout.

A final word of caution, though. Exercise, actual body-moving, sweat-drenching, joint-freeing breath and movement are not only mission-critical to keeping your joints, muscles and connective tissue healthy, but, when chosen with the right criteria, can actually be a source of a lifetime of fun. And…

…if fun and exercise don’t sound like they belong in the same sentence together, hold onto your hat!

This article is just the first in what will soon grow into an ongoing series on creating, choosing and enacting an approach to exercise that is so fun and effective, it’ll have you reworking your calendar to find ways to exercise more.

So, let me leave you with these two questions:

  • If I created an mp3 with a 30-minute, full-body visualized workout to test this research, would you be willing to commit to listening to it 3 times a week for a month and then reporting back your results? If so, let me know in the comments below and if there is enough interest, we’ll run our own study. And…
  • I am curious to know whether you believe there is a way to exercise that is fun. Let me know in the commen section and I’ll include the results in a future article.

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172 responses

172 responses to “Can your brain make you buff? Imaginary workouts can build strength and fuel weight loss”

  1. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptBreakthrough research in the field of exercise physiology has yielded stunning revelations about the way we get fit. The big surprise, though, is not what we “have” to do, but what we might “not” have to do. … […]

    • Ed says:

      Absolutely right, how many of us have had sessions where we are in a great mood, focussed and committed. We then go on to lift heavier weights and break our records. Visualisation is nothing new. I would be interested to see if those that purely visualised actually sould see changes in their physical shape.

    • Abby says:

      I want to try it! Count me in!

    • Adrienne says:

      I think this would be an interesting study and I would be happy to participate.

    • stacy says:

      I would love to try it and see how it works!

    • Michelle Moy says:

      I would love to participate in your challenge/experiment! And I DO believe it is fun to exercise, IF you find the right exercise for yourself. One of my favorite is an awesome cardio kickboxing and interval training workout that is set to upbeat, fun music, and is called TurboFire. My husband loves P90X and my best friend loves to run. Gotta find what appeals to you. I know I always FEEL better after my workouts, both physically and mentally, so I’m interested to learn whether visualization and “virtual workouts” produce the same effects.

  2. […] Jonathan Fields wrote an interesting post today on Can your brain make you buff? Stunning research reveals impact of …Here’s a quick excerptBreakthrough research in the field of exercise physiology has yielded stunning revelations about the way we get fit. The big surprise, though, is not what we “have” to do, but what we might “not” have to do. … […]

  3. […] Jonathan Fields put an intriguing blog post on Can your brain make you buff? Stunning research reveals impact of …Here’s a quick excerptBreakthrough research in the field of exercise physiology has yielded stunning revelations about the way we get fit. The big surprise, though, is not what we “have” to do, but what we might “not” have to do. … […]

  4. EggDog says:

    Yes I would love to participate in your study.

  5. Mike DeWitt says:


    Count me as a volunteer lab rat!

    Hiking and biking are my favorite ways to exercise.


  6. Amanda says:

    Exercise can be fun, but for me its when it doesn’t feel like exercise (ie sports, walking, hiking). I also like to do cardio on machines that allow me to listen to music or read. In that case I may spend very little time actually concentrating on what I’m doing. I wonder if that takes away from the benefit… Anyway, I’d definitely participate in workout visualization. Much cheaper than going to the gym 🙂

  7. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ EggDog and Mike – great, I’ll keep reaching out to see if we can get enough people to make it even remotely scientific. Would be a lot of fun!

    @ Amanda – Totally agree, rule number one is have fun. I’ll write a lot more on this very soon.

  8. Amazed says:

    If this is true It can help me ’cause Im very busy I only get to exercise on the weekends.. I can listen to workout stuff during my work. hahaha!

    Count me in! I wanna test this if it’s true.

  9. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Amazed – great, let’s see if we can rally more people.

    We’ll need about 35 or so to make it even remotely scientific. So, keep it coming everyone!

  10. Diane says:

    The power of the mind is an awesome thing. Count me in!

  11. Schelli says:

    Let me know if you get enough people and count me in! I recently experienced something similar when I fractured my elbow. The fall also torqued my neck and back and I couldn’t do many regular exercises – but I thought about them! I didn’t appear to lose any muscle strength and my clothes actually fit better than before my accident. No change in diet and less exercise. When I read this article a light bulb went off in my head – hey, I think this works.

  12. Allan Moult says:

    I’m in, and I reckon I could recruit a few more.

  13. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Diane, Schelli & Allan – awesome guys! I’ll put the word out through a few other places, too, and see what we can get going. This should be a lot of fun!


  14. Amazed says:

    I’ll try and spread the word.

  15. Peter Lurie says:

    Count me in too… I can’t wait!

  16. Megan Leigh says:

    Happy to participate! As a yoga teacher, I spend a good 50 percent of my class asking people to “come back into your body” to witness the tapes that run in the mind and then to turn back to breath. I’m going to read excerpts from this blog as part of my opening meditation Thursday night.

    Thanks for you enthusiastic and thoughtful postings! I’d love to have you as a quest speaker and teacher at the studio.


  17. alli says:

    count me in! i will do the lazy woman’s workout.
    excersize can be fun if you feel like you don’t have to do it. you have to trick yourself into believing that you want to do it. yoga does that for me.

  18. baccarolle says:

    I found your article extremely interesting. I would be willing to commit time to your research.

    I have tried lots of different ways of exercising – gym, home video workouts, etc. By far my favourite is dancing.

  19. KimH says:

    I’d love to participate in your experiment too.

    Running used to be my favorite form of exercise, but since I started getting migraines, I can’t do anything too strenuous anymore. Walking is about the only exercise I can do anymore; but I do enjoy it.

  20. Pascal says:

    Sounds great. Count me in as a guinea pig!

  21. Cyan says:

    I’m in!

  22. Stephanie says:

    Count me in, please.

  23. Mark says:

    I’d be happy to try that out.

  24. Dan tdaxp says:

    Who are the study’s authors, and where has it been published?

  25. Dan tdaxp says:

    Ah, found it!

    “Mind Over Matter: Mental Training Increases Physical Strength.Find More Like This” by Shackell, Erin & Standing, Lionel G, in North American Journal of Psychology; 2007, Vol. 9 Issue 1, p189-200.

  26. John Pollabauer says:

    I would like to participate in your study.

    Favorite exercises are nordic walking, yoga, pilates and stretching and swimming.

    Best regards,

    John Pollabauer
    Moncton, NB CANADA

  27. Jordan says:

    I would like to take part in your study

  28. Laine says:

    I’d love to join this study.

    Fave exercises: Dancing, biking, hiking, walking, yoga, stretching..

  29. valeriejoan says:

    Yes; I would love to participate in this study. I hope I am not too late.

  30. Johnny says:

    Yes,I would love to take part in your study.

  31. Kim says:

    I’d love to give it a try!

  32. Michel says:

    I’m also interested in participation on this study.

    That could be helpfull since I’m actually helping people that needs serious motivation to respect their training program using a different approach… inner motivation instead of usual outer blablabla (non ordinary state of consciousness, EFT, reality creation process, etc).

    Thanks for offering this possibility Jonathan!

  33. Jim Richards says:

    I would be glad to participate in a study group. I develop meditation programs for life development. I have read about this and have had an interest in trying this for some time.

  34. DIk Mal says:

    Hello there.

    Count me in. As I am really interested to loose my weight. This is the thing that I thought last night. LOA brought me here today 🙂

  35. […] Pagi ini, lepas balik breakfast di Ampang Point, saya terus on komputer dan mula cek email. Sungguh tak di sangka-sangka, saya terima email yang merupakan subscribtion bulanan saya. Kebiasaannya, saya cuma sekali pandang saja dan takkan baca. Tapi kali ini saya rasa nak baca. Lepas saya baca, alangkah seronoknya bila saya terjumpa dengan source ini dari artikel-artikel itu. Anda boleh baca dengan klik di sini […]

  36. navarana says:

    I would like to participate in your study! I healed myself from 20 years of fibromyalgia by reading one of John Sarnos books and I am extremely interested in the connection between mind and body! Looking forwartd to trying your exercise!

  37. Steven Winstead says:

    I would like to participate as I have had a series of surgeries that hav had a physical and emotional impact. Please include me in this project

  38. zephyr says:

    Why repeat an experiment that’s already been done?

    I’d very much rather have access to where this study is located, so I can read about it myself, before I would commit to participating in another – similar – study. I do believe the mind can do more than is generally agreed upon but I also believe one must act in harmony with one’s intent. It would be interesting to see how much that’s true (or not).

    As others have said here, exercise for me must be productive: Gardening, hiking for a view, doing something other than repetitive motions in a gym.

  39. Amazed says:

    Repeating this experiment would prove to the people participating in it how true(or not) the study is. One experiment is good but doing it a second time is better because it can give you more accurate results.

  40. Rennie says:

    yes please count me in! I was diagnosed in 2001 with “motor neuron disease – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis”, and the only exercise I can do is with visualizing.

  41. Bob says:

    I would try the experiment. While I was reading the article, I thought I might try to record my own guided meditation for my own use but I don’t know that much about making them and usually perfer to work from some sort of script and input my own words.

  42. […] Can your brain make you buff? Imaginary workouts can build strength and fuel weight loss […]

  43. Mark says:

    I’d like to be in this study. Fascinating idea. The thing is, though, I LIKE lifting weights and wouldn’t want to give that up. It’s about the favorite part of my week (just three times per week about 45 minutes each time). It has really helped me to stay strong and healthy and retain a youthful body shape at age 50.

    Other exercise I enjoy: raquetball, tennis, yard work.

  44. Scott says:

    I would love to participate in your study. My fav way to exercise is XBox 360 which would explain why I need to have some ideas that help me to lose some weight.

  45. AB says:

    yup, count me in if it really exsits and costs me no money. I walk and walk and walk. Id love visualizations for many different things including weight loss, ie pain reduction, skin disorders, you name it. Maybe teaching people how to make their own specific visualisations puts them more in power of themselves and their own health.

  46. Tiffany says:

    I would loooove to try this 🙂

  47. David Wayne says:

    Oh this sounds too fun not to try – add me to the list of guinea pigs, if you haven’t already closed this out that is.

  48. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Everybody – Hey gang, it looks like we have a nice group of people to have some fun. So, lets give this experiment a try.

    I will record a short exercise visualization and e-mail a link to everyone in the beginning of the week along with some instructions to try to make it a bit more scientific. I believe the original study was a 2-week one, I will confirm this, so we’ll do the same thing.

    LAST CALL – I f anyone else would like to join in, You’ve got until, lets’ say, Monday, Dec 3, 2007 to let me know in the comments and make sure you include your e-mail address.

    Woohoo, this should be fun!

  49. Bob says:

    Sounds exciting!

  50. Amazed says:

    This will be fun!

  51. Hoping I can sneak in under the wire, Jonathan! (It must still be December 3rd somewhere, right?)

  52. anony says:

    Isn’t it possible that the people who are going through the mental exercise of strength training by imagining themselves performing the exercise according to proper instructions are actually just learning good form? If you have ever lifted weights before you know that your form plays a huge factor in your ability to lift.

  53. basmith526 says:

    I would love to be a part of your study.

  54. Alana says:

    Hi I would love to be included in the study..I was online looking for a supportive visualization process…a guided visualization for my ideal fit form…kewl ey? And have just recently become involved with a weight training program. Would love to hear from ya to be involved in the project. Cheers.

  55. Alana says:

    Having read about the housekeepers having believed their activity was enough to make them fit, I thought that the thoughts shifted the quality of their energy and movements… and perhaps as they moved with more conscious awareness and confidence in their movements given what they were told, they utilized their bodies in different ways – therefore receiving outcomes as noted. The power of the mind and ones intention and feelings often will evoke shifts in our overall energetic being and the way we relate with our bodies and our environments.

  56. jeanne says:

    If I am not too late, please count me in on your experiment. My train of thought is leading to the same place as yours.

  57. Tiara says:

    Oooh, I like guided audio meditations so this would be an interesting thing.

    I find dance to be a really fun way to get a good workout. On Oprah yesterday I saw a dance group called Pilobilos (sp?) which does shadow dancing – they all dance behind a white screen and their shadows project pictures. They are so amazingly agile and strong – the girls carry the guys around easily!

    Circus arts are also great – I’ve only done one-day workshops but MAN you get a great workout. Tumbling, balancing, handstands – fun and random, but takes a lot of core strength. I’ve watched people do aerial performances with hanging cloth and hoops and it looks so effortless (I asked one of the performers about it and she said it does feel like flying) but it does take a lot of strength to pull yourself up and hang from a piece of cloth.

    In that same vein, pole dancing is also good. It’s got a bad rap because of the stripper association, but it takes abs and muscles to hoist yourself on the pole. Once you get over the awkwardness (it helps to not go to a sleazy joint in the first place) it’s tons of fun.

    Cheerleading would be good too. I did an demo intro to cheerleading class and OY. It’s not easy. It’s fun and not hard to pick up, but you definitely need a lot of exercise. Which you get, thankfully, when you learn!

  58. Travis says:

    I would love to participate.

    I enjoy a game of hoops with friends.

  59. Travis says:

    I was thinking about this article a few hours after I first read it.

    And, I thought of this. What if you visualized/imagined yourself repeatedly lifting a car. Or how about juggling multiple cars. What about visualizing leaping tall buildings. Imagining what it might feel like in your muscles as you do this. Assuming this works, I wonder what the impact of that would have.

    Just a rambling.


  60. Thom says:

    Count me in to participate. I want to get buff with my mind! This would be incredible if it really works, the mind is really just that amazing.

  61. Danielle says:

    I know it’s way past the 3rd, but if you’re still accepting volunteers, I’m in. Thanks.

  62. amy says:

    Sure I’d like to be a part of this study. I’m already working out however, there is about 3 times a day that i do not work out and i can listen to the audio. and if it will help me get to my goal quicker that be great!

  63. Norm says:

    I am sure the brain is an immensely powwerful organ.

    I am more than happy to be part of any objective observation. Any physical benefit is a bonus.

  64. rick says:

    sure, im in. lets get this started.
    i have used this technique before, but i never really dedicated myself after i got results, and then i was going to try it again recently.

    im willing to dedicate myself for scientific purposes, but in all honesty, in the light of reading this article, i might just go make my own mental script for this, instead of waiting. maybe even using some video to also help the stimulation. about 2 months ago i was going to make a list of songs i only listen to when i workout, and when im visualizing working out, or dancin, and then see if i can program these into my mind enough, that just listening to the tracks would cause a chemical reaction, and neural reaction within my body that would be somewhat equivalient to actually pumping iron, or running, etc…. i would also mix in some imagination/visualization with listening to the track, but all in all, the goal was to just use triggers to intiate responses within my body that would cause the same desired effects as if i was working out.i was gonna also use this for adrenaline release, and endorphin release. ultimate goal is to make the triggers easier, so i can do it without using music. using mudras, or mantras. although big science words are thrown around, this goes back to the same old metaphysical theories made popular thousands of years ago by yogis, spiritualist, etc.. that the mind is the ultimate tool of life. they would use mudras and mantras to induce certain states of body and mind, and still do use these techniques. interesting. okay, done ranting. long story short, i didnt end up going through with it, but as my social life is slowing down a bit, i think i want to take it alot more serious. im so tired alot, and i think its because im stressed from work, and its making me inactive. i need a new toy to play with for a while.

  65. Kiri says:

    I’ve believed for a long time that the mind/brain can do much more than we realize. As I dislike exercise, unless I can talk and move, I look forward to using my mind to help out.

  66. Kimber says:

    Yes. I am definitely interested. Let me know when you decide to do the study.

  67. Louise says:

    Just read your blog on exercises and mind. Well i truly beleive it would work, provided no negative belief would interfere with the imagination. I’m interested in this kind of practice and your study.

  68. Rennie says:

    …did I overlooked something, or ‘why are we waiting?’

  69. Richard says:

    I’d love to take part in your study. I keep fairly fit playing soccer/football and squash at 53 years young – but carrying a few extra pounds!
    Please count me in and keep me informed.

  70. Amanda says:

    We manifest daily into our lives situations whether we want them or not through focused attention, no reason why this wouldn’t work. Would love to take part


  71. […] breakthrough research in the field of exercise has also proven the power that the mind has to transform the body. This study has proven that the act of imagining and believing that you have […]

  72. Lynn says:

    Is there room for more? You can certainly count me in. I’d love to build muscle or shed some fat just by thinking about it. What a dream!
    This reminds me of an article that I read several months back……
    something along the same concept…
    apparently the phrase “I can gain weight just by looking at food” really is true for some people. Just by seeing/thinking about certain foods, a chemical in the brain is released that actually functions much the same way as “eating” the food. It’s amazing?

  73. carmen says:

    Yes I would love to do the study.

  74. Ethan says:

    It seems I’ve stumbled upon this article too late to meet your Dec. 3rd deadline. That is unfortunate, however, I would still like to recieve the mp3 audio file if possible. I would make such a recording myself, except I wouldn’t know where to start, as I don’t completely know what “visualizing” a workout means. If I could be the recipient of your file I would track the results myself for my own personal gain. I’d love to find out if such a thing acually works or not. I’m a competitor in high school track and It’d be great to gain an edge on the competition :D. Please respond. Thanks

  75. Chris says:

    I’m in!!

  76. Eric says:

    I`d say im a LITTLE bit late, but i would love to receive the mp3 anyways ^^

  77. Sue says:

    This was very interesting. I always suspected the brain can do far more than we realize. I may be rather late on this, but if you still need guinea pigs for your MP3 experiment, I have an iPod and can easily devote the time to listening to the exercise routine.

  78. John says:

    Hmmmm… I’m off to start on my tin foil hot!

  79. Aubergine says:

    Definately. It’d be nice to use my mp3 player for something like this.

  80. Homy says:

    Sounds cool enough to give it a try?
    Did something ever came to be off this? Did you run the experiment? What were the results? Is there a place we could download the mp3 file and give it a go??
    Cheers on your cool website

  81. Carmen says:

    Very exciting. Please, update us on the status of the study. And send me the virtual workout!

    Dancing is an excellent and fun way to exercise.

  82. Ricardo says:

    yea i would definitaly participate in your study…and playing sports, or in my case soccer, is the funnest way to get fit

  83. Fiona says:

    I am currently loosing weight, i have lost about 12kg so far, and my excersise is mostly walking my dog, which at first was a drag, and i could only do it once a day, and had to drag myself along. now 6 months in and those 12kg lighter, i do the same walk twice a day, and i enjoy it, and if i don’t do it i miss it, and my legs ache, and i end up walking on the spot for about 10 min just to move a bit.
    i also do yoga, and use an excersise bike a few times a week. and when i am lyeing in bed i visualise excersising, and i have been able to increase my heart rate and breathing by doing this. so i am convinced that it does some good. it can be hard to concentrate, so i would love to try out an MP3 of a visualised work out.

  84. Darcy says:

    I understand that the study is closed, but I still want to satisfy my curiositiy about this topic. I want to know what instructions were given for the studies so i could experiment on my own. Supposedly a large percentage of your thoughts from the previous day will be reciprocated the following day, so in a way you definitely do create your own reality. I’m really curious to hear what the different studies/techniques were…

  85. Dikvocat says:

    What this article is saying is definitely correct. Our brain has so much both psychological and concrete effects for our body’s capabilities. I remember that when you are being chased by a dog, you would run faster than you can ever imagine.

  86. Fatty says:

    When you have less confidence, you’ll get sick faster. This is approximately something that you cannot deny. The power of our brain is much bigger than we can imagine, it’s true. We can lose more calories if we know and believe that our brain controls our body cells.

  87. […] A few months back, I posted about a fascinating bit of research that revealed you can literally “think” yourself stronger. […]

  88. FatRhino says:

    I’ve tried for years (as in yeeearsss) to lose a second body’s worth of weight … all to little avail beyond dropping 50 here, gaining 60 there, repeat as unnecessary. So if you’re still looking for guinea pigs for your visualization experiment, count me in.

  89. Maybe just out of the blue, one way to improve brain power is to stay away from computers and devices that emits electromagnetic waves. These E.M. waves, albeit quoted to be safe, but they have been hazardous to our health.

    Practice meditation, and perhaps deep thoughts; that’ll help re-generate your thinking power. (think about a blind person, he or she is able to perceive sharper hearing than any normal human being).

  90. spalding says:

    I would love to try out the audio cd. If you could direct me to the file, I would be happy to test it and give you feedback. thank you.

  91. busythoughts says:

    id love to try this out, count me in if you need more people

  92. rjane says:

    Very cool! I absolutely believe that the brain needs to be on-board for anything you choose to do. As a voice teacher, I always tell my nervous/stressed students, “mind before music” which always helps them sing better. If you get your mind behind what you want to accomplish, you WILL accomplish it. And I agree that it goes for weight loss (it has worked for me).

    I’d love to be part of the study as well. My most fun activities are dancing, hiking, swimming and running!

  93. todd bryson says:

    you mentioned using the
    Dancer Pole for fitness. It works, my mom is a huge fan of the stripper pole……no joke. check out my blog all about it.

  94. benji says:

    Count me in as a lab rat

  95. Amarpal says:

    Please count me in, I am not a member but if you make this mp3 file please send me the link my email adress is:

  96. Tyson Lee says:

    This is a great study, and i would love to be part of it. Brain is the most powerful part of the body… Amazing…

  97. Gary S. says:

    Would be very interested in a CD. Have used this methodology in the past, but lacked consistency.
    Am presently using to increase testosterone levels, as I test very low via blood screening.
    Using a hypnosis tape, I focus on free testosterone running through my body, have noticeable increases but also side effects. (No appetite, among others).
    High testosterone levels lead to strong muscle gain,and fat loss.
    I can tell you, I don’t have it right yet.

  98. Segga Surra says:

    Is it still too late to try this?
    It sounds very interesting.
    Kind of like the placebo effect?
    I would be extremely interested in trying this.

  99. Anna says:

    I’d love to participate please get in touch with me.

  100. […] Think and Grow ur Hair Posted on October 18, 2008 by omarienpress A few months back, I posted about a fascinating bit of research that revealed you can literally “think” yourself stronger. […]

  101. Jim U says:

    I would love to learn more, and be included in a study. Weight training, rope skipping, bicycling are my traditional favorites. But, I would like to see if they can be supplemented by mental activity. I’ve been my own science experiment for a long time already.

  102. jitin narang says:

    Very well said, human’s are using just 2-3% of their Brain. Participating in such a program would be a step in the right direction to realize immense potential of human mind. Would love to participate.

  103. Jj says:

    Excellent write-up. I sincerely believe in the “mind over matter” attitude and think it can help in every aspect of your life, especially when it comes to exercise. Thanks for the inspiration!

  104. Interesting post. It’s not surprising given that many of the most promising weight loss drugs in development target the brain.

  105. Stacy says:

    Very interesting. I would like to participate in your program. I once made a loop tape that I listened to when exercising at the gym. If found that when I used it I could stay on the stair climber twice as long. Our subconscious mind is amazing especially when we can change our beliefs so we can get what we want out of life.

  106. Paul says:

    Please please send me the mp3 too. My email:

    I’m a bodybuilder and I’d sure like to participate in a study like this. I’ll give you a report on changes in my body. Can I still participate? Does anyone else know anything about the progress of this study?


  107. Robyno says:

    Very interesting article, I love the power of the mind. I think through our minds we are capable of achieving so much more than we are at present.

  108. Hi,
    Great post!
    Please include me in the study.
    I am 54 years old, keeping fit playing squash and football/soccer, but have added a few extra pounds recently.
    Best wishes,

  109. Oh, I’ve just noticed how old these posts are!
    Did anything ever happen with the study? Was there ever an MP3 made available?
    Best wishes,

  110. So maybe when you are playing video games you can try to imagine that you really are experiencing what the character is (I guess for many gamers it comes naturally) and that could help with weight loss too?

  111. Joe says:

    Does it have something to do with “Hypnosis”? I know people who looses weight loss with hypnosis do something similar to this. They prepare “mindset” to loose weight and they actually do it!

  112. Gabriel says:

    Sounds fun as it is… and great article too.

    You know how they say: its all starts in your head.

  113. As someone who works in mental health, I find the concept interesting, but without physical activity and nutrition, it is scientifically impossible to build body mass with merely thinking. Though thought is powerful, I would say it integrates with active health.

  114. Stunning insights are explained in blog post, survey has reveled strange but true fact regarding increasing strength of body.

    I think it’s possible through visualization as in visualization we tend to believe that our strength is increasing. I think this logic works behind visualization human being feels some kind of positive energy in body which is sending message to brain for increasing strengths.

  115. Although visualization can have a positive influence on certain training responses (such as reaction time or coordination), real muscle building or fat loss must come from properly performed exercises and adequate nutrition and calorie intake. Olympic athletes have benefited from visualization, but that was combined with dedicated and consistent physical training. There is no easy way out of this one. Muscle growth only happens in response to physical loading.

  116. Jay says:

    Although I do exercise, both body and mind, I am a big believer that the mind dictates how healthy you become and what kind of shape you get in. If you can’t “picture” yourself buff then you will never be no matter how much real training you do.

  117. Chris says:

    I would listen to that CD.

    Excercise is usually fun when it involves other people!

  118. […] Plus, I knew that, through an odd quirk of neuromuscular wizardry, our bodies actually experience something called sympathetic strengthening. Meaning, when you exercise one side of your body, the same neurological pathways are stimulated on the other side of the body, often leading to small, but measurable gains in strength on the inactive side. Also, when you visualize a muscle exercising, without doing any work, that muscle will get stronger. […]

  119. Ok this article blew me away. I’m going to favorite this and look into this. I wholeheartedly believe this, because they did this with olympic athletes back when I was a kid… yeah back in the original Athens, Greece. [just kidding, i’m not that old]

  120. First of all thanks for such a wonderful post! I agreed with you that different thoughts and mental states release hormones that can dramatically accelerate or retard muscle growth.
    Great stuff indeed!

  121. Wow, that’s a crazy find. I can’t believe that it’s possible to gain strength entirely through mind power.

  122. Interesting article. I know Creative Visualization has been used by successful athletes to enhance their performance. I have no doubt about the power of our minds, however what you talked about aroused several questions in my mind:

    > What was the logic behind choosing to focus on training a specific muscle, as opposed to doing whole body exercises?
    > How exactly were the “strength gains” (made by each group of participants) measured?
    > What physiological differences were measured in each group of participants? Did 1 group show an increase in their lean muscle mass or a decrease in body fat percentage or a change in weight?

    I have no doubts that focusing our minds on our desired outcome will have a major impact on our end results. I myself am an advocate of Zen-like focus when weight training. Being in the moment and completely PRESENT, whatever you do – is totally liberating.

    Thanks for sharing.

  123. Sandra says:

    I would like to try the mental weight loss challenge

  124. Cee says:

    The brain is an amazing thing. We truly become what we think about. It’s quite probable that when people visualize themselves working out that they have an idea of buffness in their mind which the subconsious then tries to match by physically changing the body to match the mind image.

  125. Sorry the image of the guy with the foil hat got my attention straight away! I know from experience that the state of your mind can make all the difference to workouts and muscle growth. If i feel lousy I take the day off from the gym and go back when I feel in the mood, prevents a lot of needless injurys I think too. Good post and thanks.

  126. Stacy says:

    Count me in also. I’m a hypnotherapist and always wanted to find a way to put myself in a trance so I would not realize I was exercising. I once made a loop tape telling myself that I was using all my muscles while on the stair exercise thing, breathing, etc. I could actually stay on the stair thing twice as long while listening to the tape than without it. I maybe was so into listening to the instructions that I did not realize I was exercising. I’ve been reading and listening to Paul McKenna’s “I Can Make You Thin.” He seems to get great results with a no diet and suggestions about exercise. So far I am “thinking” about dusting off my Total Gym.

  127. Griff says:

    Very interesting did you ever acctually do the study? what aere the results? is there anyway i can hold of a cd??

  128. brandi says:

    Very interesting article, I love the power of the mind. I think through our minds we are capable of achieving so much more than we are at present.

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  129. Salim says:

    Wow !! We always knew that the power of the mind can work wonders.This article really does make you think. Thanks for sharing this.

  130. […] This post was Twitted by jpbauer […]

  131. Theo says:

    hey, great article. ive just started to find out about our minds and i learn so much more everyday its amazing. who would have thought you could gain muscle in this way.

  132. Very interesting! One tip I used on a similair vein was to imagine eating a food (such as chocolate) when I was craving it. Really imagine the flavour and the sensation of eating it. I normally found after a minute or two that I wasn’t craving it any more 🙂
    The brain can work magic!

  133. MARIO says:

    Very interesting article, I am very impressed about the workings of the mind, I would love to be part of your study.
    This is the first time I am in your site, and I love it. Keep
    up the good work.

  134. Adam Kamal says:

    Yes , i will Take part on the study. Keep it up

  135. Victor Camacho says:

    I have been interested in this for a very long time. Please include me in your study. thanks

  136. Michael says:

    Yes , i will Take part on the study. Keep up the good work…

  137. Seraph says:

    yeah, count me in too! i’ve been a ballroom dancer for 7 years, that was fun:)
    now i enjoy swimming the most!

  138. Even I am very much interested in this please include me as well in your study

  139. Rob says:

    Count me too, I’ve been interested in this for a while.

  140. Nicolas says:

    I would like to receive this audio file. In fact I pole-vault during the week and would like to test whether some exercise and listening to the mp3 file would help even more than just using either of the techniques. My email is : , thanks.

  141. Edtay says:

    Hey, i would like to participate if it is still possible! This study sounds very interesting.

  142. Cori says:

    Looks like I’m too late to be in. It must have been an interesting study.
    My favorite exercises are the ones that doesn’t look like exercise and that are fun: walking, hiking, biking, swimming, dancing

  143. Adam K says:

    I will Take part on the study. Keep it up.

  144. Robert says:

    Count me in for the mp3, I want to see if it actually works.

    I think you may have enough support already, too

  145. Mike Dewan says:

    The “No Pain…Huge Gains” section I found massively interesting and the results that was found from it in the next section. Its amazing how this could actually be apparent and maybe something i look into for some of my clients (im a personal trainer).

    Great article, great information, top work.

  146. I spend so much time making my actual muscles buff it’s interesting to think about making my brain buff. I’ll have to try it out!

  147. Honey White says:

    I would like to test the mental weight loss challenge and see if it actually works!

  148. Kurt says:

    I would love to try this visualisation, the power of the mind is INCREDIBLE. I already do daily visualisations and would love to give this a go!

    Kurt Russell

  149. Wondering ig you did the ezperiment. Iwould love to read the results or participate in it also. Love your newsletter.

  150. Seb Marley says:

    I’ve read a lot about elite athletes using this type of visualisation in order to succeed however I think it takes areally special kind of Mind and Focus to yeild any kind of results…I’ll stick with heavy lifting and let my mind wander free!!

  151. Cody McComber says:

    I wanna try! I’ve heard about this before, from a friend of mine whos into quantum mechanics.

    If you’re still looking for test subjects
    Send me the mp3 and I’ll start right away, I’m so excited!

    Cody McComber

  152. Alex says:

    I play sports… Lacrosse, Soccer and Basketball.

    i’ll do your study.

  153. Troy says:

    I would like to lose weight gain muscle I have lost 50 kilos in 6 months and I’m hoping to lose another 20 kilos to be at my goal weight thank you, troy.

  154. Ben says:

    I would totally do this! Wheres the file? I’m sure there are hundreds of other things the human mind can do like this one.

  155. Patricia says:

    I would be interested. Pregnant with twins and not feeling well exercise is hard now but I don’t want to get to out of shape so the post process of getting back after the babies come will be easier.

  156. Mike Halbfish says:

    I am fascinated by this post and interested in learning more or assisting in your study.

  157. SAGAR J says:

    i know i am late here…but i would definitely want that 30min mp3..and be a part of the research..if possible please give me a link to the mp3 or mail it to me on

  158. Kayla says:

    this is interesting..i will be willing to try it out and be part of your research

  159. Great picture! There is more and more information coming out now looking for the minimum required amount of exercise to get a real benefit, whether this is fitness (cardio or bigger muscles) or for health. Only recently in the UK a news article has quoted that 15 minutes per day can prolong lifespan by 2 years. This is a different thinking to the exercise for 20 minutes 3 times per week…

  160. Jimmy says:

    Did you ever do the study?

  161. Sarah Harper says:

    Very interesting ideas about the psychological impact our brains can have on our bodies. I have been working out for a number of years now and have lost a log of weight.

    I always lost more during the times I was the most motivated and started to visualise my goals. Could this be the brian changing my body?

    You can read my story here – Workout Routines for Women at the Gym

  162. David says:

    With a strong interest in visualisation and a background in mountain bike racing at european level, you can count me in !

  163. Jon S says:

    I see this article is several years old. Hopefully it is not too late to put my name into the hat for the research group.

    This also sparks another question.
    Can you consciously change things like your metabolism (speed up or slow down digestion), make your hair grow faster, or affect your heart rate, etc.

    I would think the answer to this question would follow the same set of principles as this article.

  164. Hey Jonathan, I’ve never heard of something like this before. Really fascinating article! I know that Bruce Lee was someone who would also train mentally as well as physically. He said that your mind was just as important in fitness as your body. That mental preparation was half the battle won. Thanks for this, I feel enlightened!

  165. Connor says:

    I would love to try this. It looks amazing

  166. Martin/CFS says:

    As a CFS sufferer for 0ver 15 years who finds physical exercise difficult but needs to shed flab, this sounds intriguing and possibly life-changing – count me in!

  167. Joanna says:

    I would love to take part in this since I suffer from Chiari malformation exercise is hard for me….