Client Homework: Visualization Techniques for Fitness Goals

Training Tips

Client Homework: Visualization Techniques for Fitness Goals

Reading Time: 4 minutes 38 seconds

By: ISSA

Date: 2019-10-25T00:00:00-04:00


When we hear the word visualization, we cannot help to think of the mystery of this imaginative action. According to those who swear by the technique, mental imagery helps with decision-making, relieving stress, improving physical and emotional well-being, even making our affirmations come true. Can all of this be possible, or even supported by scientific research? And how would we as fitness professionals use this knowledge for our benefit?

Whether you are a skeptic or not, keep reading, because in this article we will try to show you the real mechanism behind visualization techniques and give you quick, easy tips on using them for fitness.

The Science Behind the Magic

You've probably heard that most of the world's oceans are not at all explored. They hold overwhelming amounts of secrets—information we have yet to discover. The truth is, human brains are just like these oceans—fascinating, full of secrecy that never seizes to fascinate modern scientists. However, day by day, more becomes uncovered. Just about 100 years ago, creative visualization would be equaled to only wishful thinking, but now we know that in reality, it is a tool we can use wisely—the same way we use mindfulness. Let's get a quick insight into neuropsychology.

Brain imaging studies show that during visualization, neurons in our brains mistakenly interpret this mental imagery as real-life events and actions. Thus, for example, when we visualize a jump, impulses generated in our brain lead to the creation of neural pathways which in turn prime our bodies to act as imagined. In other words, even though the actual movement is not performed, the processes in the brain are still activated similarly.

Why Successful Athletes Use Visualization Techniques and How

Visualization has become a successful method for improving performance across a range of fields, including by successful athletes to enhance motivation, focus, and coordination. Moreover, as said by psychologists, using mental imagery to rehearse an action reduces anxiety and stress, and relaxes patients. Experienced athletes are familiar with the value of visualization. Many athletes turn to it to improve training results, innovate workouts, help muscle growth, and so forth.

It's not that visualization will make you magically lose weight or grow huge muscles, but it will certainly be an effective addition to your routine and help you achieve your fitness goals. Let's take gymnastics as an example. A big part of physical training for performing elegant and complicated movements is focused on mental rehearsal. If an athlete is unable to master a specific acrobatic move, they are sometimes recommended to take a break, sit down, and imagine what they would like to do with their bodies. They break down each step in their mind, rehearsing it repeatedly, then they go back out to practice it live.

Using Visualization Techniques for General Fitness

Most of the clients we work with as personal trainers spend their afternoons in front of the office desks and come to us not because they want to build careers in sports. It's because they want to learn more about their physical capabilities, increase their fitness, and boost energy sources in their bodies. Then how would they benefit from the visualization techniques? Here are several scenarios where visualization can help:

"I am Not Confident"

How many times have you had a client with confidence difficulties? This is a common obstacle in the fitness journey. We've all experienced moments of low confidence. And great way to get past them is to prove yourself wrong by overcoming the doubts in practice. If you doubt you can perform a pull-up, go and perform it. Easy, right? But what if your client is too nervous to try because they doubt themselves too much? A gentle, safer approach may be more effective. Give your client homework to visualize the movement daily. Colorful, lifelike visualizations will activate the same processes in their body as the real movement and eventually induce some confidence in the person.

"I am Not Motivated Enough" (or Demotivated by Slow Progress)

Your client has a goal to lift 100 lbs., but currently, they can only lift 15 lbs. They are overly confident, but their physical capabilities are not keeping up. What would happen then? Probably disengagement. Your client becomes discouraged and slowly loses interest. However, visualization is a great tool to keep the fire burning and engagement in check. Daily visualization exercises can serve as a reminder of the goal, as an added motivator. Not to mention all the positive sensations the feeling of accomplishment will bring when imagined.

"I Love Working Out, But I Am Too Lazy to Get to the Gym"

Excuses, excuses... One way or another, usually what we hear is not an honest confession on thoughts of laziness, but complaints about the lack of time, lack of other resources, etc. The good news is these people have already experienced the athletic ‘high' at least once before. They say they love working out and what they mean is that they know perfectly well what they are missing out on. But the feeling of the warm bed might seem more attractive on a cold winter morning. Encourage your clients to try using the guided visualization in such instances. While staying in the preferred position, they can start visualizing their entire exercise routine in detail. By this, they will activate the processes in their body that will lead to them re-experiencing the excitement and happiness. And what can be a better motivator than those two?

"I am Looking for a Magic Solution"

Some of our clients, or even us, cannot resist the temptation of looking for those magic solutions. It could be anything from an exercise technique to supplements. Nonetheless, what we are looking for is simply diversity and novelty. Sometimes escaping the monotony and bringing some fresh ideas to the day to day routines can act as a placebo and have the most outstanding results. Thus, visualization exercises can be a treat for the most curious trainees. They will get to explore their capabilities beyond the gym, transferring their love for sports to other locations and to other times.

Visualization is not a mystery. Quite the opposite, it is a scientific approach to the use of the power of the mind in sports and fitness. It could be considered a form of meditation, which in the case of regular practice, could improve your athletic performance and skills, enhance your aerobic, or strength training results, help you build self-confidence, and generally help you on the journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Are you interested in learning more about behavior change to help clients achieve their goals? Check out the ISSA's Transformation Specialist Certification to learn more about techniques to truly coach and influence behavioral patterns as they relate to your clients' physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

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