T Nation

Placebo Effect & Resistance Training

Whenever you read a study about a new drug or other product, you inevitably read about observed improvements from a placebo. The subjects experience a physiological change simply because they believe that the product is having an effect on them. I have often wondered how this applies to resistance training.

Many times you see people who experience great gains and when you take a look at their program it is utter crap. Now usually we just chalk it up to superior genetics, but is it possible that they are making gains in part because they firmly believe their program is working for them? Now obviously there is somewhat of a difference from a pure placebo because the trainee is doing something, but the principle can still be applied.

I also remember reading about an amateur bodybuilder who was laid up in the hospital for several weeks. He mentally went through every step of his workout each day. He claims he was able to preserve most of his muscle mass by doing this. There is no way for him to prove it now, but it is an interesting concept to think about. The mind is a powerful thing.

What do you guys think? It would also be nice to hear some of the experts’ opinions if possible. Maybe they could throw it into the Think-Tank.

I remember one time dreaming about doing a PR squat, woke up sweating, nearly fell out of my bed and actually felt I’d just tried a max effort lift. Bizarre, but true.
Also, do you think it would work if someone pawned off a load of hollow weights on you and you thought you were lifting more than you were?