The Autonomic Nervous System and It’s Effect on Performance

Lets talk about stress and the autonomic nervous system. This is the part of your nervous system not under your conscious control that regulates body functions. It has two parts – the sympathetic, which is your ‘fight or flight’ and the parasympathetic, which is your ‘rest and digest’.

If you are always in a state of sympathetic dominance, meaning that your autonomic nervous system is always in a fight or flight response, you will not build muscle or improve your body composition.

Why?

Training is just a stimulus. But we don’t grow when we are in the gym, we grow when we allow for recovery. Constantly being in a state of sympathetic dominance means you can’t recover. No recovery, no muscle, higher body fat. This part of the reason why some people over time see no improvements in their body composition, they are probably over training.

I’m not saying that being in a fight or flight response doesn’t have its benefits, sometimes for training sessions its greatly beneficial, but the body needs homeostasis. Like I said before, If we are always in a state of stress, it impedes our body’s ability to perform and recover.

Keep in mind stress is a part of life. Everyone experiences stress to some degree nearly everyday, which is quite normal. In order to cope with this I always make sure that clients are employing some sort of recovery methods. Breathing exercises or even meditation will help them get into a parasympathetic state, where rest, recovery and digestion can take place.

Work smart before you work hard!

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