I once wrote an article stating that the “Placebo effect is the most powerful supplement known to man.”
This article genuinely led to me receiving an Instagram DM with someone asking where they could buy placebo!
If like the person that DM’d me you don’t know what the placebo is or what the placebo effect is, here’s a quick definition:
- A placebo is a substance or treatment which is designed to have no therapeutic value.
- A placebo effect is the tendency of any medication or treatment, even an inert or ineffective one, to exhibit results simply because the recipient believes that it will work.
Right, now we have that all cleared up let me give you some evidence to support the claim that a placebo is the most effective supplement for muscle and strength gains…
In a classic study, conducted on a group of athletes, the athletes were given pills to take and told these were anabolic steroids. Specifically, they were told they were taking Dianabol. During the subsequent training sessions, the athletes experienced rapid increases in strength. This rate of progress was similar to what would be expected if they were actually taking anabolic steroids.
In only 4 weeks subjects average 1-rep max bench press increased from 137.9kg to 151.1kg and squats increased from 137.5kg to 156.44kg.
That’s incredible progress!
The scientists then told the athletes that they were in fact taking a placebo. Immediately, their performance returned to normal.
This illustrates the power of the placebo effect and the power of the mind. When the participants believed they were on drugs and capable of rapid gains in size and strength that is exactly what they achieved.
While you cannot trick yourself into believing that you’re on drugs or create an elaborate cover story involving mad scientists trying to help you get jacked you can learn some valuable lessons from this study.
Firstly, the body is capable of incredible things and often we might unknowingly restrict our progress and place limitation son what we are capable of. Secondly, a positive mind-set where you place high expectations on yourself and believe you can achieve them can help to accelerate tour progress.
G Ariel and W Saville. Anabolic steroids: The physiological effects of placebos. Medicine and Science in Sports 12/1971; 4(2).