T Nation

IQ and training

I’ve seen quite a few studies that say that intelligence is increased with regular exercise (particularly due to increased oxygen flow to the brain). Do any of you feel “smarter” than when you first started? Do you have any particular favorite exercises that make you feel more alert or focused?

my smarter since lifting good

i actually really started to suceed in school when i started lifting back in senior yr of hs. HOwever while that was an easy yr my sucess has continued thru the 1st 2 yrs of college. i often attribute this sucess to just maturity and working harder but its possibel the gym influenced me

i can see how working out can make your self-confidence increase, therefore, maybe making you think your smart, and making you more optimistic. from my personal expereince, i think i’ve taken on challenges a little easier from lifting. if anything seemed tough i’d tell myself that i’d had to be easier than squatting 405 for 15 reps.

I think if anything since starting lifting I have become more of a meat-head and have lost a lot of intelligence, to put it in the words of my roommate Sal, “for every 20 lbs your bench goes up you lose 20 points on your IQ.”

Jeez, if you guys feel that lifting has made you smarter and you still write that poorly, you must have been damn near illiterate when you started. :wink:

P.S. drod, I got the joke. No need to flame me.

It’s widely known that being a pro bb = genius!
There are plenty of examples to support that theory: Paul Dillet, Craig Titus, Bertil Fox…
It must be an unfortunate coincidence that misguided public equates BB’s with meatheads.

Ok well, as a neuroscience research and medical student, I’d like to provide some insight into this question. In my humble opinion, the first thing is… forget about the IQ thing because there are lots of factors that go into it besides raw intelligence… sometimes people are tired, sometimes they are awake and energetic, sometimes they have bad days, sometimes they are distracted… etc… so simply because exercise raises IQ scores does not make one smarter. On the other hand, here is how I see my own experience and what happens. I do believe that my cortisol levels have dropped since I started lifting. Cortisol is something that is known to affect hippocampal cells, a major location of long term spatial memory storage (cab drivers in new york and London actually have bigger hippocampi because of their constant navigation of such complex cities). Next off, release of norepinephrine jumps up dramatically with exercise and I wouldn’t be surprised if that increases hippocampal size. Then there are hormonal effects. Hormones early on clearly have dramatic effects on the brain, particularly masculinizing hormones, but later on we really don’t know what they do. I can tell you that my confidence level went so through the roof along with my energy level that my body distracting from my mind was not as much a consideration. All in all I think I operate at a much much much higher efficiency and I get a lot more done than I did before and my mind seems to be clearer… it was always lucid, but now it’s like crystal clear. Actually senior year of college , when I was working out all the time of college is when I did the worst even though I was just as smart if not smarter. i was too busy skipping class-- chasing women from all that sex drive I was getting from working out!!! Continuing with personal experience, people vary. There’s one person who I know who is in never never land after they work out. They just are in this glazed eye zone and you can’t get them to think about anything. Hell that’s part of what I work for! If you want focus and alert, try something like Tai Chi:P If you want intense focus, I think just being in a weight lifting routine, and boosting your testosterone will give you focus… just don’t let the women distract you.

I could hypothesize a lot more on the neurochemistry of why it could make you smarter, but I’d be going way out of scientific fact into sci fi. And it sounds like you’re coming at this from a slightly akward angle. If you’re just curious and don’t have too much of a vested interested in trying to become smarter… try www.pubmed.com and see what you come up with.

Yes particualrly areobics, the brain is a muscle, don’y use it and you lose the connections. A kid drops 1-2 IQ points in his 6 week hoiliday…

i dont think the brain is actually a muscle, but it does have obvious neurological connective similarities to muscle and the whole mind muscle connection deal. Ithink that DHA has helped me but not sure how exactly. BTW i would have never thought of takin fish oil had i not started lifting in the first place.

Very interesting stuff, guys. Thanks for the more technical appraisal, tantalos. I already do well on intelligence tests, but I wouldn’t turn down any free “intelligence increases.” I’m going to be trying piracetam as soon as my order comes in.


One thought that I had (and I am not a neuroscientist) is that perhaps activation of motor neurons stimulates parts of the brain that are otherwise untrained, leading to better spatial intelligence. I know that the jury has sort of swung back and forth as to the true involvement of the motor cortex in spatial reasoning, but that could be an interesting correlation.

I have always had a bad sense of direction and have trouble remebering directions-maze dumb I guess. Besides relaxation techniques while attempting to learn new spatial relationships, have you ever heard of any techniques and/or drugs for treating this defecit?

I get lost a lot, too. There’s this new, experimental drug: GPS. Magically, you get this little voice inside your head that tells you “go left,” or “you’ve gone too far. Turn around.” :wink:

I feel my mental awarness and concentration improved the most from doing tempo runs multiple sets of 100 and 200 meter runs at around 65-75% percent max velocity

argh somehow my reply didn’t go through. Let me say that I do work on an enzyme that I think will ultimately lead to drug developments that will help everyone out as far as learning and memory go in just about all areas, but right now I’d ask if you’re depressed. Depressed people tend to have shrinkage of the hippocampus and antidepressants like SSRIs tend to increase the size of the hippocampi. That takes at least 3 weeks and you might notice other cognitive deficits and side effects during that time period or there after… sometimes they go away though. Next thing I’d say is that those london taxi drivers weren’t always london taxi drivers, so I’m thinking that their using their heads in that way, allowed their spatial memories to improve. So if you practice things that work it, you might notice some improvement… like go out and explore new areas, get yourself a little lost sometimes and try to find your way home. Practice, practice, practice… but just like training, don’t over train. See if you’re ADD, perhaps some form of activating drugs might improve your concentration and therefore spatial memory… you have to make sure it’s your spatial memory and not other things that are impeding it. Anyway, I hope this helps…you might want to go the diet route and see if eating eggs and blueberries helps out your memory. That was told to me by this brilliant 80 year old who’s sharp as a whistle and teaches biochem at upenn school of med. I’m not there, I’m in new york, fyi. Anyway… good let me know if you have anymore questions.

Have you read some of these posts? Clearly no correlation between exercize and intelligence.

lifting has giving me a huge ego

Yes, I was diagnosed as clinically depressed, and although I never missed a day of work, I have felt since my late 20s that there was something amiss with my brain chemistry. I was put on Wellbutrin for 6 weeks by my GP. Didn’t really seem to help. I am loathe to try any SSRIs due to the libido lowering factor-mine is somewhat low despite an above normal testosterone level (blood & saliva tests). Sounds like you have a good background in this area-any reccomendations?

depression lowers libido as well.