As you may or may not have read in my previous entry on the blog here, I have added weight lifting to my fitness regime and I am loving it. There has been a whole new set of language to update my personal lexicon with and so my aim of becoming properly ‘hench’ is well underway and each week I revel in my ‘gains.’ Today’s blog entry is all about maximising those gains made during your workout, regardless of the nature of the exercise you did.
With my running, I used self-hypnosis to advance and enhance recovery and have written about that aplenty. In recent months, I have been examining ways to use self-hypnosis to maximise the gains I make in the gym workout and how to aid a very different type of recovery.
Typically, many gym goers will drink protein shakes or take supplements to help their body recover, and I became interested in ways my mind could help and started to examine the evidence and research with regards to applying self-hypnosis.
Well, you guessed it, there is virtually nothing directly supporting the application that I am sharing here today. However, there are many evidence based principles that support most of what is involved with this process. Self-hypnosis has been shown to alter body temperature (Dikel & Olness, 1980), advance immune functioning (Barabasz et al., 1996; Gruzelier et al., 2001; Ruzyla-Smith et al., 1995), relieve pain (Jensen et al., 2009 & 2011; Lang et al., 1996 & 2000; Tan et al., 2014), speed up healing (Kline, 1953; Frankel & Misch, 1973), oxygenate the blood (read a full-on process on how to do that here: Oxygenate the Blood Using Self-Hypnosis http://www.adam-eason.com/run-more-efficiently-oxygenate-the-blood-using-self-hypnosis/) and mobilise blood flow (Raskin et al., 1999; Swirsky-Sachetti & Margolis, 1986); all of which can contribute (at least potentially) to the advancement of recovery following weight training or any rigorous exercise.
I initially looked at using placebo and creating hypnotic tablet and performance enhancing drugs to administer in conjunction with hypnosis, and I have done that a few times, yet there is not a new process to that which I have written about before, you can simply adjust this particular process here and make it pertinent to whatever exercise you do and whether it is being used as pre or post workout:
The process that I have mostly been using and gradually honing into a central part of my post- gym workout ritual involves a number of simple components, just follow these steps:
Prior to starting have a positive cognition, an affirmation or a good positive suggestion that you can repeat to yourself later on within this process. Something that is worded in the present tense, is positively focused upon what you want and is motivating, for example:
“I am stronger and stronger”
“My muscles are growing healthily bigger”
“I am fitter and fitter”
“I feel and am healthier and healthier”
Then with that in your mind or written down, you can get started.
Step One: Induce Hypnosis.
You can do so by any means you desire or know of. You can use the process in my Science of self-hypnosis book by, use the free audio we give away on this website to practice or clicking here to have a look at the following articles as and when you need them; they are basic processes to help you simply open the door of your mind:
Heavy Arm Self-Hypnosis Induction Method
Using Eye Fixation for Self-Hypnosis
The Chiasson Self-Hypnosis Method
Hand to Face Self-Hypnosis Induction
Using Magnetic Hands for Self-Hypnosis
The Coin Drop Self-Hypnosis Induction
Once you have induced hypnosis, move on to step two.
Step Two: Go deeper by being mindful and tuning in to the body.
Now, begin by being aware of your entire body as one… From the top of your head, all the way down into your fingers and finger tips… and down into the tips of your toes… Be aware of your entire body as one… Just be aware of it and watch it.
Don’t try to change anything; don’t try to stop anything from changing. Sometimes things change all by themselves when you watch them, that’s ok… Embrace what is happening within you instead of fighting or resisting it…
Be passive, a detached observer, just be contented to notice what you notice, feel what you feel…Tune in to your breathing next… Notice the sensations of your breathing… notice your tummy… rise as you inhale… and fall as you exhale… Notice your chest expand… and relax…
Don’t try to change the breathing… don’t try to stop it from changing… just be a passive observer… let the body do the breathing… Observe it, as if you were watching a bird on a tree breathing, or as if you were watching someone else breathing or as if you were watching a well-maintained machine. When you are truly tuned in to your breathing, very aware of it in it’s entirety, then move on to the next step.
Be more and more comfortably absorbed in the feelings of the body… in this moment.
Turn your attention to the sensations in your arms, legs, chest, tummy, head and everywhere else… One by one. As you focus on each area, let your awareness spread over the surface of your skin… deep into the muscles… and even into the bones and joints…
Let the breath guide your awareness… deeper and deeper into the body… let your mind be more patiently absorbed in even the smallest feelings… Once you have been through the entire body, let your awareness rest on your entire body as one.
Let your body continue to do the breathing… Once you have this deep sense of awareness of yourself physically, then move on to the next step.
Step Three: Oxygenate the blood.
Imagine watching the air coming into your mouth, observe the air and imagine it coming into your mouth and moving through your system.
You might imagine it has qualities you can observe; minute oxygen bubbles, light, colour, sound, a sensation. Just watch it coming in through your mouth, follow each breath moving through your throat, into your windpipe, and then branching out into the two smaller air tubes, the bronchi, going in the direction of the left and right lung via a network of thousands of smaller airways called bronchioles. The air then reaches the alveoli in the lungs.
Continue to follow and imagine that journey of the air, tell yourself that as you imagine it, you are deeper hypnotised, more focused and more responsive. As the air arrives at the alveoli, notice that the oxygen sticks to it and is removed from the air. The oxygen then moves into the blood vessels and the blood.
Start to imagine that you are extracting more and more oxygen from each breath of air until you are efficiently and effectively absorbing and extracting ALL the oxygen possible from each breath of air you breathe in.
Watch as more and more oxygen increasingly is absorbed into your system in a healthy, beneficial way.
Now imagine that the increased oxygen travelling through the capillaries and into the red blood cells is being moved more effectively. It is being moved in a comfortable and efficient manner. Not necessarily being distributed quicker. Your red blood cells are brimming over with oxygen that enrich the body, arrive at the organs and muscles to fuel them with more natural ease, thus making it easier and easier to use more effort in a more effective fashion.
As this is happening, and your body has an abundance of oxygen, as it is becoming more effective at using it, so it transports away the carbon dioxide effectively. It seems that as the muscles expend energy and omit the waste product of carbon dioxide, the red blood cells are also capable of removing more of it with each exhalation. Your system cleans itself, renews more easily.
Tune in to the areas of the busy that have been worked hardest. Mobilise the blood flow to those needed areas by focusing in on the muscles that were used the most in your workout and imagine the oxygen being healthily transported to those muscles in particular, soothing, healing, and of course cleansing and removing more of the waste products. You find that the body’s removal of waste products is more and more effective as you imagine it to be so.
Once you have spent a good period of time doing this thoroughly, move on to the next step.
Step Four: Promote healing and growth.
If healing and growth were a colour, what colour is that for you? If healing and growth were a sound, what sound is it for you? If healing and growth were a feeling, what sensation is that?
Imagine that colour, sound and feeling now spreading through your body, rejuvenating, healing and aiding the recovery of the body.
Zone in on and focus upon the muscles that you exercised in your recent workout. Imagine those muscles growing, developing and becoming healthier as the colour, sound and feeling arrives in those areas.
Imagine that the light, the sound and the feeling are feeding and fuelling the muscles, energising them and filling them with health, vitality and well-being.
At the same time, as the colour, sound and feelings arrive within the vital organs, imagine them also getting healthier. Imagine the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and so on, all healthier and fitter as a result of this.
When you have done this thoroughly, move on to the next step.
Step Five: Repeat your positive cognition to yourself (the one you created prior to starting this hypnosis session).
For example; “I am healthier, fitter, stronger etc.”
Importantly, say the words to yourself like you really mean them. Say them in a way that is undeniably convincing and like you believe them to be true. Tell yourself that whenever you repeat these words outside of hypnosis, they continue the effects.
When you have spent some time really repeating these words with meaning, then move on to the next step.
Step Six: Post hypnotic suggestion.
Tell yourself that as a result of this session, you are getting stronger, fitter and healthier. your muscles are growing, and importantly tell yourself (convince yourself) that the usual recovery benefits of sleep and nutrition are multiplied as a result of this session.
That is, your nutrition, sleep, rest all produce even greater health benefits for you. Be assured of that, then move on to the final steps.
Step Seven: To round this process off then, we engage in some progressive relaxation while thinking about the muscles we have exercised (similar to desensitisation). Engage in some progressive relaxation while you are continuing to imagine the body growing and healing:
You can do this in a number of ways…
1. You can simply breathe and say the word ‘soften’ to yourself as you think of the muscles of your body.
2. You can spread a colour through your body, one muscle at a time.
3. Imagine light and/or heat spreading through you, relaxing you deeply.
4. Imagine that you are a rag doll and that your muscles are loose, limp and dormant.
5. Imagine being close to a soothing heat source that spreads throughout you.
There are many, many other ways to use progressive relaxation. Just use whatever process you know of to deeply relax and allow your body to be more and more relaxed.
Once you have relaxed your entire body, simply move on to the final step.
Step Eight: Exit Hypnosis.
If you use my own protocol as shown in my science of self-hypnosis book, count yourself up and out from one through to five. Otherwise, open your eyes, wiggle your toes and get oriented to the place you are in.
You now practice that process once or ideally twice daily for a few weeks. Make it part of your post-workout routine following a gym workout. Believe in what you are doing. Believe in the effect and you’ll increase the results you are getting and will be maximising your gains for sure.
Enjoy this process and I look forward to hearing of your progress.