Visualization is imagining a thing before you do it. Before I start a set on a lift, I visualize doing all the repetitions. Take the weighted chin-up for example. After my warm up, I take a few seconds to just imagine myself doing the reps with the top weight.
It’s not magic, but I believe it helps me lift more. I know it helps as a reminder of the cues I want to keep in mind during the lift. I see myself starting and finishing each rep before I even attempt them.
It “greases the groove” also. Remember when you first learn a movement, any movement, it feels stilted and awkward. Most of us probably don’t remember learning to walk. But do you recall learning to ride a bike? How wobbly it was? Or maybe the first time you used chopsticks? With practice, the movements become like second nature.
“Greasing the groove” describes that process. Each time you repeat a new task it becomes more comfortable. Visualization can help with this. Obviously visualizing a thing is not quite as good as actually doing it, but it’s still very useful.
It’s like rehearsing a speech in front of the mirror before you deliver it before your audience. Even if you’re a pro at making speeches, chances are you still read it aloud a few times before you do it in front of a crowd. You can think of visualization in training the same way.
Seeing yourself through the entire session before you do it might seem a little weird. Instead of going through the whole thing, try visualizing each exercise just before you do it.
Let’s say your session (for the sake of simplicity) is 3 sets of 10 repetitions for 4 different exercises. After your warm up, but before you begin your working sets, visualize the entire working sets. See yourself unrack the bar; walk it out; you brace your core; your hips and knees flex; you hit your depth; you drive back up to the starting position. And then you actually do it.
‘Cause you do have to really do it, if you want to see results. It would be nice if we could imagine our way into being fit, but we do have to put in the work. The visualization is a nice way to get in some mental repetitions to help guide the path to progress.
And… I bet it has some carryover into other aspects besides training and public speaking. I don’t know if visualizing yourself avoiding a traffic jam would actually work, but who knows, give that a shot too and let me know how it goes.