T Nation

Behavior & Physiology


Very probably the wrong place to post this but I'm new thus immune to any and all accusations of wrongdoing whatsoever. With that said:

Do you think (or even know) that behavioral/psychological changes affect physiology? To what degree? For example, 'power posing' can change testosterone and cortisol levels (spread your body out and the former goes up whilst the latter goes down). But can the decision to 'be selfish' also increase testosterone given than people with high testosterone tend to be more selfish...

I muse on this because I remember that prior to gaining 30 pounds of muscle and the strength to match, I read an article (on T-Nation funnily enough) that recommended that one 'become arrogant' prior to engaging in such a challenge. It worked a charm.

Any thoughts or similar experiences?


Psychological changes absolutely affect physiology. Especially in the neuro-endocrine system. Your above example of cortisol release is a good one. Cortisol is often referred to as the "stress hormone" and has been found to reduce testosterone levels in certain cases. So using that logic, if someone were to be in a constant feared and stressed state, they would have higher concentrations of cortisol. Where as someone in a confident and comfortable state would have lower levels of cortisol and often times higher levels of testosterone.

Taking this one step further (albeit more into the realm of bro science), the increased testosterone from confidence will lead to increased manliness in both a physical, sexual and psychological sense which could lead to more confidence and therefore put you in a nice little positive feedback loop.

Visa-versa physiology will often have an effect on psychology and behaviour. ex: After prolonged binge drinking of alcohol people tend to be anxious, stressed etc and act differently. So it very well might be possible that Selfish people have high testosterone which makes them selfish but this seems more like correlation rather than causation.

Similar experiences:
Being confident in the gym isn't just a mind over matter experience. Often times the confidence will cause physiological changes in your body which allow you to lift the new PR. I've found that amping myself up before and gym session and knowing that I'm a fucking man will add weight to the bar, as meagre as it may be.


Yeah, this is my experience both as a lifter and a trainer. There's a certain feeling where you just KNOW you're gonna get it. I'm very rarely surprised to wake up leaner, fast, stronger or fatter, slower and weaker for that matter. I always thought that Test Boosters' main mechanism was making you BELIEVE that you could hit a PR every time. I also remember using techniques like Visualization to great effect.

It leads me to believe that this is a vastly understated and under-researched aspect of training. Under the 'trifecta' of factors effecting results i.e. Stimulus, Diet and Recovery, I guess it would fall under the latter. Just day to day decisions and behaviors. Testosterone also increases decision making abilities (ie speed) and risk taking. So would making snap decisions and gambling and whoring then help you get mahoosive? Is it possible that certain Yoga (or not if that is offensive to your Bro belief system) poses would thus help growth? After all, we all know about the guys that 'do everything right' but seem to get nowhere...


I'm a pretty huge believer in purely mental/psychological factors heavily influencing physiological and hormonal variables. I have noticed this through personal experience. I honestly felt like I could literally feel my testosterone being higher once free of negative and stressful influences. My strength increased markedly as did my confidence and mood.

On a more "micro" scale, the attitude with which you approach each training session is in my opinion possibly the most important aspect in all of lifting. Provided your program and diet aren't completely atrocious, I firmly believe that the mindset with which you approach the weights has the greatest potential impact out of any of the present factors.

I struggle to do better with this personally, but being able to channel aggression and savagery is crucial. I have heard multiple great lifters talk about this. Give someone who just goes through the motions a great program, and he will get stronger. Give someone who believes in himself and his training and attacks it with barbarous fervor a mediocre program, and he will blow the first guy out of the water.


Its common knowledge and science these days, the correlation between mind and body functioning.. They are always in harmony with one another, one example is the changes in the body that happen through the sheer power of thought alone, for better or worse.

Meditation is a great way to lower cortisol, balance your adrenal system, make you less emotionally reactive and well a ton of physiological benefits coming from lowering stress.


Yep, vice versa, too.

Next time you're in a bad mood, FORCE yourself to smile (put a pen in your teeth, if you need to), after a few minutes of smiling, your mood will be improved.

The mood/mind/body connection is one reason I use L-theanine on a regular basis. It's basically cloud nine in a pill.


I would like to be there for one of these before and after testosterone tests for "power posing". There's so much shit people make up. It gets passed around and around and somewhere along the line the word research gets thrown into the mix.

Do you know that some so called "researcher" can just pick the time of day to test testosterone to get the results he needs to market his whacky book?


:59 seconds by Richard Wiseman is full of little "mind-hacks" like that. I used to do the pen thing when I was having a boring as fuck day at work. Great little pick-me-up.




Its interesting that even a fake smile can help in releasing the feel good endorphins of dopamine and oxyticin.. There is also different practical tools in neuroscience recently to restructure the brain, specifically pathways and the ever increasingly findings of plasticity that the brain has. This of course meaning that there are many ways to re train the brain to become more laser focused and sharp, as well as more resilient and less prone to stress.


Is this anecdotal or really a physiological phenomenon? Because I just tried it and felt...great! Would you happen to have any links to research in the area?


It's been tested in loads of experiments. They call it the "As if" effect. Basically faking it until you make it.

Check out :59 seconds or Rip It Up by Richard Wiseman (the latter goes into more detail).


Thanks! Will try to check them both out.


I really agree with the mindset going into training or even having it change during your session. I can tell sometimes I feel sluggish and weak sunrise surprise I can't push the weights I normally can. Other times going in feeling like a god and hard weights become easy. I really attempt to work on that