If you need more evidence that your exercise limits are purely mental, an experiment from the University of Kent’s School of Sport and Exercise sciences has shown that a little brain stimulation can improve your endurance.
The researchers wanted to test whether endurance limits were a “mind over matter” issue. In a time to task failure cycling challenge, they stimulated the brains of participants by passing mild electrical current over the scalp, boosting the brain area associated with muscle contraction.
When tested against a placebo group, the perception of effort of the brain-stimulated group was decreased, and the length of time they could cycle for until failure increased.
While not something you could practically apply to your training session (unless you wanted to walk around with an electrode strapped to your head – always a possibility), it goes to show that whatever mental limits you set for yourself are putting a handbrake on your training. All it takes is a little brainpower to set your next PB.