The Mythology: Something you think works but actually doesn’t
The Truth: Something you think works and therefore works in a mind over matter fashion.
Research: Placebo effects are extremely powerful in sports and probably account for a large portion of the benefit that people get from supplements. Studies show that they can be powerful ergogenic agents, improving a subjects muscle mass, strength, endurance, pain thresholds and even endurance. In one study untrained students who were given a placebo but told that they were ingesting potent amino acids, improved their bench press performance by nearly 20% (Kalasountas 2007). In another, amateur weightlifters improved their press performance in a number of exercises by nearly 10% when they were given inert sugar pills but informed they were getting anabolic steroids (Ariel and Saville 2007). Their gains vanished after they were told what they were getting – along with some of their pride I would imagine.