Both mental confidence and physical confidence are important, but physical confidence is probably more important because it is usually more accurate and it is also the primary source of mental confidence. Fully appreciating the importance of physical confidence means first understanding how science now looks at the role of the brain in regulating exercise performance. One of the leading researchers in this area is Samuele Marcora of the University of Bangor, Wales. In a series of elegant studies, Marcora singlehandedly exploded the traditional, cardiovascular/muscular explanation of endurance performance and fatigue and replaced it with a brain-based alternative. In one of these studies, ten members of the university rugby team were recruited as subjects. Each performed a maximal voluntary cycling power (MVCP) test, which consisted of an all-out 5-second effort on a stationary bike. After a period of rest, the subjects were then required to pedal the same bikes as long as possible at a fixed wattage that corresponded to 90 percent of their individual VO2max values, which were obtained from previous testing. On average, the subjects were able to continue for roughly 12 minutes at 242 watts before giving in to exhaustion. Immediately after bonking in this high-intensity endurance ride to exhaustion, the subjects repeated the 5-second MVCP test.
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