The Placebo Effect
What is a Placebo? A placebo is basically a control substance when testing for something else. For instance a company is testing their protein shakes and they have a person do a lifting workout and then drink a protein shake. To see that it works they will sometimes mix in the placebo. The placebo is actually just a control that has none of the protein in it, yet the person does not know that. This is how the placebo effect came about. In many of these experiments it was found that the placebo did not throw off the actual substance because the person still thought they were getting the beneficial substance. When they knew that they were getting a control substance their performance did incline with the protein and did not when they were receiving the placebo. There has been many experiments now, trying to understand why this happens. Caffeine has been tested by weightlifting, testosterone with aggressiveness, performance-enhancing shots, and even sports clothing with performance. So is it a certain product we are using that helps us perform better or possibly just the products of our own mind? There has been much research to find out. Caffeine is a popular substance that is supposed to enhance sport performance. There have been many tests that show that it does work by using a placebo, yet the problem is that there are also many tests that show something else. A control group is used with the assumption that the placebo is inactive. There was never supposed to be anything such as the placebo effect. Also the subjects in the experiments were not supposed to act differently when they thought they were or were not taking it. To figure things out scientists in the United Kingdom designed an experiment with the placebo effect on weight lifting. Fifteen males with lifting experience were recruited. Scientists told the men that they were in a study on the effects of caffeine on weightlifting performance. They also told them that they would be consuming two solutions, one containing caffeine and the other a placebo in random order, yet they were actually getting two placebos. The subjects came to the lab three different days all between 9a.m and 12p.m (“Placebo Power”). For the first visit the subjects tested their maximum strength one rep max on single leg extensions. The second day the subjects all warmed up for five minutes cycling and then tested. They did one set of single leg extensions until failure at sixty percent of their one rep max. All repetitions were counted and the trials were separated by one to three days. All of the data and feedback was noted. The total amount of weight was counted (repetitions multiplied by weight), and the perceived exertion rate (RPE, the measure of work the subjects thought they were putting in) was determined (“Placebo Power”). To the subjects all three trials were different. In one trial, the control trial, the subjects consumed nothing. In the other two trials the subjects did consume a pill an hour before the trial but they did not know what it was. They were told that they were receiving a caffeine pill on one of the days and a placebo on the other, yet they got a placebo for both trials. Even more, the researchers that interacted with the subjects did not even know the true nature of the research and that there was no caffeine ever used until the end of the study. After all of the trials the subjects were given a questionnaire asking which trial they thought they received the placebo and which day they received the caffeine. After the result analysis researchers found that the subjects completed an average of 4.1 more reps when they thought they had taken caffeine before the trial as opposed to when they thought that they took the placebo (“Placebo Power”). As for the total weight lifted, 306 lbs. more was lifted on average when the subjects thought they had consumed caffeine (“Placebo Power”). As regards to RPE, the subjects were higher when they thought that...
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