I came across a research paper the other day from 2003 which has some fascinating findings about the power of the imagination in increasing muscle strength. I bet you had no idea that simply “urging” a muscle to contract could have any effect on the actual strength of that muscle. In this experiment, which lasted 12 weeks, a team of American scientists began by testing how strong the muscles in the little finger were in 30 volunteers. They then divided them into 3 groups. Group 1 was told to mentally create the feeling of moving their little finger away from the ring finger using their maximum effort. Group 2 served as a control group. Group 3 performed actual strengthening exercises to the little finger muscles.
Here’s the amazing result: when all 3 groups were retested at the end of the 12 weeks, Group 1 increased their little finger strength by a whopping 35%. (This group, remember, did no actual training whatsoever, they simply mentally recreated the image of themselves performing strengthening exercises.) Group 2 was unchanged. Group 3 improved by 53%. Yet another example that our minds and bodies are not as separate as we have been taught to think!