What’s a girl to do when it’s cold and snowy outside? Read psychological science papers of course!
I know lots of people who are absolutely going to LOVE the results from the paper I’ve just read – Power Poses: Brief Nonverbal Displays Affect Neuroendocrine Levels And Risk Tolerance.
(you’ll be surprised to hear it’s not been nominated for a ‘Catchy Science Paper Title Of The Year’ award )
My darling husband and Health and Fitness coach has been living, talking and teaching that you can use the power of your mind to get fantastic physical results for y e a r s.
When clients first come into the gym (the real life AND the virtual one) they’ll soon be asked to repeat after us, “I am an ATHLETE!”
This is tough when you’re feeling anything but however, after saying this out loud day after day, week after week these clients BECOME athletes!
They start to think like one, they start to act like one and, being on the receiving end of the Coach, they have no option but to train like one.
Fake it ’till you make it is a phrase that’s often thrown around; with derision from some quarters who haven’t quite cottoned on to the power of the mental state, and with fierce promotion by those who have.
Perhaps it’s the word fake that upsets some people; its connotations are negative and implies deception and lies.
So instead, of fake it ’till you make it, how about – ‘see yourself as the person you want to be and start living as if you are that person NOW’…?
Ok, so it’s as catchy as the title of the psych’ paper but it does solve the ‘fake’ problem.
So what does this science paper have to say?
Well, the team of boffins who wrote it set out to discover whether THINKING you’re powerful can actually CAUSE you to be powerful.
The answer is a very simple YES and is summed up rather nicely in the abstract:
Posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, phyisiological and behavioural changes, and these findings suggest that embodiement extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiological and subsequent behavioural choices.
In other words, by striking power poses you will not only FEEL more confident, positive and powerful, you will BECOME so as you cause your testosterone levels to rise, on average by 20%, your cortisol levels will drop by about the same amount and your tolerance to risk will increase (all very necessary when about to embark on a set of 20s with your bodyweight let me tell you!).
(By the way, ‘power posing’ doesn’t mean going all Incredible Hulk and Arnold Schwarzennerger, wandering around flexing your muscles and growling at everyone you see!
Power poses are open body and take up a lot of physical space – lounging back in your chair and sitting with your feet up on the desk is just one of the power poses the 26 female and 16 male participants were asked to adopt).
All very interesting, but how can it help over here at Six Pack for Girls?
Well, testosterone is rather important as it’s THE muscle building hormone. It affects strength, muscle mass, your mood and how your body processes protein.
The bad news? Us girls don’t make very much of it so anything we can do to raise our testosterone levels is a good thing!
Along with the revelation that power poses will do this, lifting heavy for squats, deadlifts, bench press and Co will also increase testosterone production.
Do you remember I said I felt on top of the world after doing that set of (almost) bodyweight 20s…? A result of elevated testosterone levels perhaps? I think it’s a pretty safe bet.
A natural increase in testosterone levels, and it doesn’t have to be huge, can also help to lower fat mass levels which brings me neatly onto cortisol.
Cortisol is a stress hormone; it only took the Coach telling me a few times (less than five) that, “Cortisol promotes abdominal fat storage!” for me to chill out a bit when life over the last nine-and-a-bit weeks got a little frantic!
Your cortisol levels increase when you’re stressed and also when you don’t get enough sleep – NOW you know why I’ve been trying to push as many ZZZZs as kilos!
Elevated cortisol levels also stimulates the breakdown of muscle to be used as an energy source. And JUST to add insult to injury, not getting enough sleep also causes testosterone levels to fall *sigh*
(Whilst I’m on the subject of sleep, lack of the snoozy stuff causes elevated insulin levels too which also promotes fat storage, let alone increasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Insufficient sleep will also affect your body’s ability to grow and repair itself. When we sleep the body experiences a natural increase in Human Growth Hormone, HGH. This is when the REAL bodybuilding takes place and if you’re not getting enough sleep your HGH levels will be compromised.
Aside from THAT, if you’re tired when you hit the gym your rep rate will be lower, you won’t be able to put in maximum effort and your strength and muscle gains, along with your overall results, will not be as good as they could be!)
Back to cortisol…
There is a direct link between your cortisol levels and whether you are a POWER or powerless person.
Power people have lower level cortisol than their powerless counterparts, and when exposed to stresses their levels rise at a significantly slower rate. Incidentally, when you elevate your power levels your cortisol levels will drop – so get those feet up on the desk pronto!
Consistently high cortisol levels – as opposed to the short-term increases we experience on a daily basis resulting from danger, or excitement, through to getting up in the mornings – also has an impact on our ability to combat illness and disease.
Those who carry stress around with them as a matter of course, or get worked up over the smallest things, tend to suffer more frequent episodes of illness, than those who don’t.
All in all, high levels of corstisol are NOT GOOD!
Do you get it now? Do you see how this is all relevant…?
YOU ARE WHAT YOU THINK YOU ARE!
If you want to be strong and powerful you must act, and think, as if you are – by default this is what you will become.
If you want to change your life, your job and/or your body, and have a six pack of your own, you must SEE IT! FEEL IT! LIVE IT! BREATHE IT and SLEEP IT (to keep those cortisol levels down remember).
So which are you?
Are you a POWER PERSON or a powerless person?
GO ON…STRIKE A POSE!