Archive for the tag - deception

Deception Improves Performance!

1010_faster_fitnessYou are stronger – and faster – than you think.

Researchers from Indiana University proved just that in a study with cyclists performing 4-kilometer timed trials. For the study, 14 competitive cyclists biked four timed trials with variables (like speed and power output) being displayed on monitors.

Of the four sessions, the first was to familiarize the cyclists with equipment. The second session was to provide a baseline for sessions three and four. In the the third and fourth session, avatars appeared alongside the cyclist on the monitor; the cyclists were all told the the avatar reflected their baseline. However, in the session involving deception, the avatar was actually programmed to perform at 102% of the baseline.

Through the deception, cyclists were able to improve their performance by 2.1% over their baseline performance – even after the cyclists were told that they were tricked.

One researcher noted:

The idea is that there’s some sort of governor in your brain that regulates exercise intensity so you don’t overheat, or run out of gas, so to speak. In this case, the governor was reset to a higher upper limit, allowing for improved performance.

I’ve seen trainers utilize this concept by tricking clients into thinking they’re lifting the same amount as usual. However, the trainer has secretly added a bit more weight. So long as they client thinks they can lift the weight, they do.

Nonetheless, this study underscores the importance of the mind in exercise. And that you are, in fact, stronger and faster than you think.

Deceive Yourself for Better Results?

Your new fitness mantra: "I know I can. I know I can. I know I can."

When it comes to exercise, what’s the limiting factor? Obviously, you can only lift as much – or push as hard – as your body will allow. But, as it turns out, your mind plays a significant role, too.

In a series of interesting experiments, Dr. Kevin Thompson, head of sport and exercise science at Northumbrian University in England, set out to test the effects of deception on performance.

In a test, cyclists raced a 4000 meter virtual course at their top speed. Then, an avatar was introduced on the course. Though the cyclists were told that the avatar represented their own top speed from the previous test, it was actually programmed to go 1% faster. Keeping up with the avatar, the cyclists actually beat their own personal best times. When, on the other hand, cyclists were told that the avatar would be exceeding their personal best, they found themselves unable to keep up.

The findings of the study aren’t entirely surprising. I’ve seen trainers use deception on clients at the gym. If, for example, a person believes that they can bench 200 lbs for 8 reps as their max, the trainer might slip on an extra five pound plate to either side. The client ends up doing 8 reps of 210 lbs, believing the weight is actually lighter. If the trainer had disclosed the actual weight, the client might have only been able to do 6 or 7 reps.

While this sort of deception can erode the trust in a client-trainer relationship, it does speak to the power of our beliefs. Yes, our bodies have physical limitations – but our minds play a bigger role than many of us may realize.

For me, the takeaway is this: If you tell yourself you can’t do something, you probably won’t be able to do it. If, on the other hand, you believe something is possible – and perhaps even visualize yourself achieving it (many professional athletes use visualization) – then you are far more likely to actually do it.

Since positive self talk is easy, free and makes your fitness goals more achievable, why not give it a try?