The nervous system, Recovery and Strength.
Author: Jake Marshall
Have you noticed how all the strongest people you know are chill as hell when not on the platform? This chilled out attitude is a massive advantage when it comes to building strength, mass and an overall good as the quality of life.
It all comes down to our nervous system. Without getting too far into it, we basically have two types of autonomic nervous systems: The Sympathetic division and the Parasympathetic division.
We will start with the phrase “Autonomic nervous system”. This is the nervous system that is pretty much out of your control; its auto. It plays an extremely important part of maintaining adequate function of your bodies internal environment. This is how your cardiac muscle in your heart and smooth muscle in your digestive system, respiratory system, blood vessels, etc.
Now, why do I think this is important enough to write about on this blog? Because the autonomic nervous system is linked to your conscious state; particularly your emotions.
The best example of this is when you find yourself angry, stressed, or scared and what happens? Your heart rate increases rapidly, you sweat, you may feel queasy. This is your ‘fight or flight’ response to stress and congratulations! You’re using your Sympathetic division. What’s happening when this division is activated is so extremely fascinating and complex, but ill try and summarise it as best I can. Basically, your brain experiences a stressor (threat) and will increase heart rate while diverting all appropriate resources (blood) to your muscles and lungs so you can leg it or kill it (Fight or flight). This is what is happening when you exercise. Your heart is pumping to get blood into your muscles, so you can lift or swim or jump or dance or whatever. However, while your body is doing this, it takes all the energy and focus away from systems such as the digestive system that obviously plays a vital role in your internal environment so that you can be happy and healthy.
The Parasympathetic division is active when you are at rest. It slows your heart rate down and enables your body to heal and digest. What some people may be surprised to learn is that this is actually the most important part of any kind of physical training. The rest allows for recovery and your muscles will only grow and adapt during their recovery phase.
These two divisions worked a lot better together when human evolution was at a point where we were only in flight or flight while punching on with a triceratops (I’m no paleontologist but I assume that’s how it went). So, you can imagine now days when we are facing so much stress by just sitting in traffic or in front of a computer that this would have a serious impact on both our digestive health and recovery. You can work out harder than anyone but if you’re always exposing your body to that stress and never giving it the time to relax and recover then how can you expect to see results. It's not just muscle mass that is affected here but if your body is not able to properly metabolize the nutrients from your food then how can all your systems function as efficiently as they should. As both a student, a father, and someone who has a constant need to pick up and try and master everything he sees; I defiantly find myself struggling with this. “I have three assignments due, but we have rugby finals on this weekend, but I need to put 10kg on my bench, but I have to spend more time with my family, oooh my guitar! I have to get better at that, I need to find my dream job now! Etc., etc.” ... This is me and you can see how I sometimes find myself plateauing in regard to my lifts and energy in general. You no doubt have your own stressors that you face every day as well so the main question here is how do we find ways to avoid stress, so our bodies can recover and we can get on track getting results in training? I hate to say it, but there is no one answer for everyone. Some stresses may be avoidable, some unavoidable, some not stressors at all but you may suffer from anxiety and find it near impossible to ever properly relax. Meditation and some other calm, relaxing practices show a lot of promise and may be a great start but its really only you who can take a step back and assess how to destress your life.
My advice that has worked for me: Get rid of some things, anything that really drains you that can go, get it out of your life. I might be clutter in your house, it might be a toxic relationship, it might be a part of yourself that should have been left in high school. No matter what stressors you have, it is important to regulate them and give your entire life a chance to recover.
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Identify and overcome your obstacles
Max Effort Fitness
Author: Jake Marshall
Online trainer, Consultant and Researcher
Why is it hard to reach your goals? Why can you consistently go for that run every day? And why can’t you get to the gym 3 times a week like you promised yourself you would on New Year’s Eve?
In this blog I’m going to discuss barriers and correlates of physical activity and hopefully get you to identify these in your own life so you can overcome them and spend 2018 and the rest of your life kicking butt. In shot these are any factors that enable or inhibit your from doing ANYTHING. Cold outside? Environmental barrier, too self-conscious to go to a gym? Individual barrier.
There are different types of barriers and I mainly want to focus on perceived barriers here. Now, no one ever wants to hear that their barrier is just a perception. If I went to a trainer or coach and told them I couldn’t complete the training I was given, and they told me that I was just perceiving that I couldn’t and was actually just making excuses, I’d probably tell them where to go. Though, in short that’s exactly what perceived barriers are, they’re just excuses… BUT that does not make them any less valid. It is your perception and if you perceive that a barrier exists, and you can’t do something because of it, then that is just as valid as any other reason. Trust me, the number one barrier that any Exercise physiologist, personal trainer, physio etc hears is “I DON’T HAVE TIME” it’s the bane of every health professional’s existence.
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A review study done in 2002 outlined the biggest correlates to physical activity, looking at a variety of types of factors such as environmental, biological, individual and so on. Rather than writing down the entire results page ill note here what was found to be the largest negative and positive correlates to physical activity.
The main barriers, that inhibited people from exercising were:
- Perceived effort
- Too hot/cold
- Perceived not in good enough health
- Lack of time/ busy (Perceived or not)
- Lack of enjoyment
- Lack of confidence
- No one to exercise with
- Too expensive
- Don’t have access to facilities.
- A lack of social support
All these barriers are valid, even it is just perceived, it’s still a factor stopping you from achieving your goals.
The key is to identify the barriers that stop you from being active and then working out ways to overcome or avoid them. For example, if having no access to child care is a barrier, you might be able to involve them in activities. My partner and I often take our son hiking, it’s a great way to have family time and he absolutely loves it. If you feel as though you’re not in good enough health to do physical activity just start small with what you can. The best exercise is the one you do. Listen to some music/audiobook/podcast while you go for a walk and aim for 30 minutes every morning. This will help turn physical activity into a regular behaviour and in a couple months you won’t be able to imagine your morning routine without your walk, you’ll feel a hell of a lot healthier and you will probably even be ready to step that walk up to a light jog. Suddenly you go for a 30-minute light jog every day and you have successfully achieved a healthy behaviour change. What’s good to know here is that that simple 30 minute walk every day is a great way to overcome a lot of barriers, even our old friend “No time” because you can afford to set your alarm for 20 minutes earlier in the morning and get it done before you have breakfast while you still have control over your busy day.
Identifying what stands in your way of physical activity is key to addressing it and finally overcoming it to achieve your goal. That’s why if you are having trouble with strategies for your barriers here at Max effort we are more than happy for anyone reading this to contact us and we will try to identify some strategies that will work for your situation and get you to be a more active and healthier person. For now, take a few minutes and write down all your barriers, any reason that you can’t completely destroy your goals and you may be surprised with how many of them you can easily overcome.