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Visualization: Make Each Rep Count!

Does the fact that some individuals who train half as hard as you and make twice the gains frustrate you? Do you wish there was a way for you to exceed your supposed genetic limitations? If you answered yes to these questions, then read on ...

Are you disappointed with the progress you have made relative to your fitness goals in the last year? Does the fact that some individuals who train half as hard as you and make twice the gains frustrate you? Do you wish there was a way for you to exceed your "supposed" genetic limitations?

"If you answered yes to these questions,
then I think you will find this article useful."

Throughout history, thousands of individuals have overcome insurmountable challenges and beaten their more "gifted" opponents. I feel this is largely the result of a powerful mind. Positive thinking, goal setting, meditation, drive, motivation, stress management, visualization and positive affirmation are a few of the concepts that we will explore in this new column.

Any one of these techniques will put you in the right state of mind prior to meeting a challenge, will have an impact on your performance and ultimately will help you reach your most-coveted aspirations.

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Do You Feel Strong?
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In this first column, we will look at one of my favorite techniques - visualization or "mental practice" as it is sometimes referred to. As the old saying goes, "the body won't go, where the mind has not gone to first." As trite as it may sound, I feel it is very much true.

Winning athletes in all types of sports commonly use visualization as a way to rehearse their event or sporting activity before actually going through it. In doing so, they are able to anticipate things that may go wrong or areas that may be difficult and visualize themselves getting through them.

Golfers mentally practice the perfect swing, basketball players the perfect shot, baseball pitchers the perfect throw, etc.

There is in fact research evidence that indicates that when athletes use visualization their performance does improve. It may be that your muscles start to learn through this visualizing practice the proper way of moving or that it mentally prepares you for the challenge.

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Visualization Improves Performance.

There is also evidence to suggest that if you use the wrong imagery-if you imagine yourself missing the swing or losing the game-your performance will get worse.

Countless books and papers have been written on the subject of visualization. Each offers various ways on how to use this technique. The best method, in my opinion, involves mentally practicing a workout the night before while in bed, again the morning before the workout and finally just prior each set of the workout.

Let's assume that tomorrow you are training quads and that you've both planned your workout and set some specific goals. You are going to be doing leg extensions, leg presses and squats each for four sets. The most amount of weight that you've been able to handle in each of these exercises is 150 pounds on leg extensions for nine reps; 720 pounds on leg presses for ten reps and 315 on squats for ten reps.

Your goal for tomorrow's workout is to get no less than 12 reps with those poundages in each of those exercises.

When you go to bed, you are going to visualize everything you'll be doing from the moment you walk into the gym, to the moment you accomplish your goals-putting on your workout gear, the songs you'll be listening to on your MP3 player, your mood as you approach the exercise equipment, each rep of every set, how the weights feel, how your muscles feel, how long you'll rest between sets, etc.

"Since you will be mentally rehearsing your entire workout,
the visualization exercise should take almost as long as the workout itself."

The following morning, a few hours before you head to the gym, you'll want to mentally rehearse your workout again. I enjoy doing this while listening to music with my headphones so that I have no interruptions. Just as the night before, take yourself through your entire workout. As you do this, face the heavy poundages that you have been unable to lift before, and visualize yourself doing it.

Have You Tried Visualizing Your Workout Routine?

I Will Now!

Think in detail. Do you feel strong? Are you filled with energy? Can you see yourself moving the weight? Finally, as you are actually working out, just prior to each set, visualize it one last time. Imagine how each rep will feel and see yourself getting the twelve reps.

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Are You Filled With Energy?
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When the time comes to actually doing the set, you will have programmed your mind and overcome any type of mental block that might have been in your way. As far as you are concerned, you've already accomplished your goals. Now it's just a matter of going through the motions. Your mind has gone there and now your body will follow.

This takes practice and concentration so don't give up on it. It may be one of the few things you can do to overcome your genetic limitations.