MAP training stands for Mental and Physical training - the training of the mind and body. It’s something Olympic Athletes practice on a daily basis - becoming both mentally and physically strong in order to optimise their performance and pursue their dreams.
Mental training is still an emerging field of research, but aided by improvements in technology, neuroscientists can now look at structural and functional changes in the brain as a result of mental practice
We at Fitsmind believe that looking after your mind is just as important as taking care of your body. The two go hand in hand, because what the mind believes, the body can achieve.
One of our very own stars and team-mates, Sara Isakovic, a Silver Olympic Medalist, performance psychologist and TEDx speaker, knows the effect the mind can have over the body. Sara has hands-on experience as a published researcher in mental training from the University of California San Diego, working with NAVY Seals and Olympic athletes.
Meditation - and the training of awareness - has gained a lot of attention in recent years. Studies have shown the impact of awareness meditation on stress reduction - acting as a coping mechanism to buffer physical and psychological reactions to stress. Attentional capacity, cognitive processing and emotion regulation, have all been shown to be positively affected by awareness practices.
With regards to performance, extensive research has been carried out on the U.S. military, who engage in awareness meditation training as a way to build resilience prior to deployment. There is evidence for improvements in body-based self-regulation, decision making skills, as well as enhanced stress recovery.
When considering benefits on physical fitness, a study by Dr. Ellen Langer, a Harvard psychologist, showed that when participants increased their levels of awareness during workout routines, they lost an average of 2 pounds in weight, reduced body fat content, and lowered blood pressure.
Neuroscientists have shown that when you visualise, or create an image in the mind (of what you want to happen, or how you want to feel), the brain cannot always distinguish whether you are imagining it or whether it’s truly happening. This is because the same brain patterns are activated when you picture something, as when you are experiencing it in real life.
So when you mentally practice a situation/performance, the brain goes about creating the necessary new neural pathways, like a blueprint, to be followed in the actual performance. When re-visualising the same action, or physically carrying it out, the neural circuit gets stronger, allowing our mind and body to carry it out more effortlessly - or more specifically increasing confidence and decreasing anxiety once performing. When you imagine what you want, it strongly influences the prefrontal cortex in the brain - the executive centre - which takes action and finds resources and tools you will need to achieve your goals.
Interested in learning more? Or want to hear more personal stories on the effectiveness of mental training? When you join us, you’ll learn from some of the very best athletes in the world and your coach will give you a new set of tools to try it out yourself.