If you want to maximize your chances of being a better athlete, winning games and reaching your athletic potential, you'll need to piece together several components (diet, sleep, stress management, good coaching, strength training, etc.).
As far as strength training goes, your attempts to increase strength and power need to be maximized. Strength training in and of itself is multi factorial (volume, intensity, rest periods, phase potentiation, etc.) It can get complicating. However, there is one simple and overlooked technique you can utilize to optimize gains: Mental Training.
Slimani et al. studied 53 male trained kickboxers. Among those that trained, they were separated into two groups:
1) Physical training group (PG)
- This groups trained, rested normally between sets and did not do visualization post-workout
2) Physical and mental training group (PMG)
- This group trained, performed motivational self-talk between sets, and did visualization post-workout for 30 minutes
These groups were tested for countermovement jump, medicine ball throw, bench press, half-squat tests, and several hormones.
Both training groups performed the same lifting program for 12 weeks.
Both groups got more explosive, stronger and saw increases in testosterone concentrations.
However, the differences were significant between the Physical and mental training group (PMG) and Physical training group (PG):
- Countermovement jump height increased 16.2% in PMG and only 8.4% in PG
- Medicine ball throw increased 27.9% in PMG and only 14.2% in PG
- Bench press increased 26.5% in PMG and only 15.7% in PG
- Half-squat increased 27.2% in PMG and only 16.3% in PG
- Testosterone concentration increased 35.2% in PMG and only 22.4% in PG
- Also, resting heart rate (a marker of aerobic conditioning) decreased 9.1% in PMG and only 3% in PG. Similar findings were found for markers of stress.
In the current study, Mental Training increased strength, power, testosterone and decreased markers of stress. For athletes, this can be a highly effective adjunct to strength training. Instead of checking your phone or messing around between sets, use motivational self-talk during rest periods and watch your strength and power increase.
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Slimani, M., Taylor, L., Baker, J. S., Elluech, A., Aydei, F. M., Chamari, K., & Chéour, F. (2017). "Effects of mental training on muscular force, hormonal and physiological changed in kickboxers." The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 57(7-8), 1069-79.