How to Train like Captain Marvel

I won’t spoil the movie for you, but for most of it, Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel), is fighting under duress. She is manipulated and her powers are limited by restraints she doesn’t understand. But despite all of that, she calls upon a ‘mental image reel’ to fight back. She focuses on images of herself as a child, teen and adult facing tremendous obstacles and rising up, every time. This series of flashbacks gives her the strength and courage to overcome tremendous odds.

What is in your image reel? What images, memories, thoughts and words do you call upon when at the point of failure? Turns out, science agrees that your mindset plays an important role in how well you perform. And not just your mindset, but also the attitude you possess before you train. If you go into the workout with negativity or ambivalence, your workout will suffer.

In one study, scientists gave seasoned power lifters a placebo pill before training but presented it as a “powerful anabolic steroid” that kicks in immediately. The results were quite amazing. The mental edge they perceived played out in actual improvements in strength performance. With the help from the ‘pretend’ steroid, they beat personal records by about 5%.

Can you train your thoughts to benefit actual training? Yes. Your mindset directly influences and impacts performance.

Now let’s get back to that image reel. Carol Danvers pictured herself being knocked down and getting back up, time and time (and time!) again. What happens when we envision ourselves performing an exercise with perfect form? Science says that helps our form and our performance. What happens when we imagine ourselves hitting a PR on the ski erg, the bike or rower and doing it flawlessly? Turns out it helps.

It should go without saying that actually training is required practice. You can’t simply imagine yourself doing something without actually doing it, but when you combine the two, results are staggering.

Challenge: Come up with your mental reel. Play it during the warm up and during rest intervals. See what happens.

As always, the science:

 

  1. http://journals.humankinetics.com/doi/abs/10.1123/tsp.14.3.272
  2. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/Fulltext/2012/10000/Maximizing_Strength_Training_Performance_Using.10.aspx
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20508474

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