Positive Self Talk Can Boost Your Athletic Endurance

Posted on December 17, 2013

"This study is the first to demonstrate that self-talk significantly reduces RPE and enhances endurance performance" (flickr)

During a tough workout or a physical game, we get plenty of signals from our body that muscles are sore and the endurance wall is fast approaching. However, our brain is wired to be overprotective and tells us the tank is almost empty when in fact we still have a reserve supply of energy remaining. By overriding this internal thermostat, we can surprise ourselves with an extended performance level.

Professor Samuele Marcora, Director of Research at the Centre for Sports Studies at the University for Kent, along with a team from Bangor University and Tilburg University, wanted to give athletes some reassurance that they could, indeed, disagree with their own brain and mask the negative signals with encouraging thoughts. They gathered 24 young, athletic volunteers to participate in a cycling endurance test.

For the next two weeks, the group was divided into two groups. The control group was told to continue their normal exercise routine until the next test.

However, the second group was instructed on how to use self-talk during their workouts. They each chose four motivating affirmations, two for the early part of a session like “feeling strong today” and two for the final stretch like “I can do this.” They incorporated these statements into their daily exercise routines. Returning to the lab, the two groups were asked to do the same cycling to exhaustion test.

The test group was allowed to use their self-talk phrases during the session. Sure enough, that group was able to last on the bike 18% longer than their initial baseline level while the control group performed about the same as before.

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Category(s):Sports Psychology

Source material from Sports Are 80 Percent Mental