Can you get stronger just by imagining exercise?


Via Mind Hacks: Tips & Tools for Using Your Brain:

Using your imagination alone you can train the motor signals from your brain so that you are stronger, faster, and more skillful. This example takes 3 months to work, so you may want to just listen to how the experiment was done rather than doing it yourself. It’s taken from a study led by Vinoth Ranganathan, who was following up on a study done 12 years previously by Guang Yue in the Lerner Research Institute department of biomedical engineering.

The study involved volunteers training, in two different ways, the muscle responsible for pushing outward the little finger. (To see what they were doing, put your hand palm downward on the table, fingers together, then imagine you’re pushing a weight out by moving your little finger only to the side). They trained for 12 weeks, 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week. Some volunteers trained by actually tensing the muscle, but others were instructed to merely imagine doing so.

After 12 weeks, Ranganathan measured the force that the volunteers could exert with their little finger muscle. Both groups had become stronger, those actually tensing their muscles during training improving by 53%, those using imagination by 35%.

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