To Be Calm, Or Not to Be Calm... That Is the Question
February 15, 2019
Are you quick to blow your top? Do you find it hard to contain yourself when something shoots out of the blue and scuppers your plans? Or are you the sort of person who floats through life without a care in the world, strolling down the road, relaxed, making the most of any situation?
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The wonders of science suggest if you want to build an impressive and powerful physique, you need to be a combination of the two.
This definitely describes most people to some degree. After all, who has the energy to go around gritting their teeth and screaming at everything all day? Similarly, who has the inner strength to skip around smiling and pretending everything smells like roses? Actually… the latter sounds like more effort!
The truth of the matter is that your moods and emotions have drastic effects on your health, well-being, and blood chemistry. These chemical changes play a massive role in how your body functions at every level from sleep to digestion, and even performance in the gym, as well as recovery and growth from exercise. The trick is understanding these changes and when they work for you as an athlete
For your body to perform at its peak, get the most from yourdiet, recover, regulate mood, remove harmful toxins, and set up an environment conducive to adequate, quality rest, it must not be deficient in essential nutrients. While a rounded, healthy diet usually provides this, when you train hard you run the risk of falling short. Taking Sheer Total Multivitamin ensures you get all the vitamins and minerals you need to grow. Engineered specifically for men who work hard in the gym, Sheer Total is a valuable addition to your supplement stack.
The Cortisol Conundrum
Let’s begin by analysing the chemistry behind the biggest problem facing humans in the Western world today, stress. Everybody feels stress from time to time, that’s normal. Modern life can be taxing. But when stress becomes a common theme to your everyday life, your health is at risk. High levels of stress play havoc with your sleep, digestion, and mental health, as well as being a major cause of cardiovascular disease. These facts are well known to the community at large, but stress can also bring your recovery and growth to a standstill?
When we become stressed, our bodies release hormones that alter the way we function, essentially putting us into ‘fight or flight’ mode. The two major stress hormones are adrenaline and cortisol, and they do nothing to compliment a bodybuilding lifestyle. These chemicals are heavily catabolic, promoting the breakdown of tissue for energy, the exact opposite effect bodybuilders want.
When we train, eat, and rest, we set up an anabolic environment within our bodies leading to effective recovery and growth. If you think of your training as providing the construction site, and your diet as providing the building materials, your anabolic hormones are the construction workers, without whom no building will take place. Stress hormones, particularly cortisol, put your construction workers on strike, and you will not reap the rewards of your hard work in the gym.
So, without this turning into an amateur counselling session, if you constantly walk around with worries on your shoulders and a knot in your stomach, you really need to address this and find ways to be more zen. After all, if you can’t have a positive effect on something in that exact moment, what’s the point in thinking about it?
The Magic of Sleep
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Now for a real catch 22 situation. Adequate, proper sleep is essential for anabolic hormonal balance, recovery, and overall health… but, being stressed impairs your body’s ability to maintain healthy sleeping patterns.
Ideally, you need at least 8 hours of unbroken sleep per night for optimum results. When you wake, you should feel rested and refreshed. If you still feel zapped you may be over-training.
Avoid the snooze button at all costs! When you wake your cortisol levels spike, so waking several times every morning is never going to set you up in a good mood for the day!
When you get restful sleep, cortisol levels drop drastically, and at the same time, growth hormone and testosterone levels rise significantly. This is when you do the vast majority of your growing. It has also been shown that grabbing a quick nap in the afternoon can improve your performance and boost gains. However, you should keep nap time down to between 20 and 45 minutes, any longer than this and you will probably wake up feeling groggy.
Sheer Sleep is an excellent supplement ensuring a great night’s rest. Jammed with great ingredients, including melatonin, the sleep hormone itself, Sheer Sleep can help to set you up for a hard day.
The Chemistry of Intensity
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Now it’s time to get fired up!
If you have any pent-up worries and niggles, the gym is most definitely the place to let them out.
The key to effective training is intensity. There’s no point in strolling into the gym and just sitting around surfing the net between half-hearted efforts. You need to apply 100% effort and focus to each and every set, so turn the day’s stresses into muscular effort and results. Cut rest times down to between 45 and 90 seconds, and spend this time lightly stretching out and keeping yourself in the zone.
Struggling to get that last rep on the bench?
Think of your bosses smarmy mug and launch that bar skyward!
Underachieving in the squat rack?
Remember that guy who carved you up on the freeway and blast those quads! Turn all those little annoyances into gym motivation then forget about them. Intensity is essential for growth. Get in the gym, focus and get your work done, then get out and go home to relax.
Chill Out and Fill Out
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An excellent way to chill out and let those stresses float away using a relaxation technique, such as meditation or yoga.
Now, forget the misconceptions that these activities are only for hippies or girls, or that they will in any way inhibit your manliness. They are ancient practices proven to aid with relaxation and focus, and can drastically lower cortisol levels.
Meditation is the art of being in the present moment. You empty your mind and simply be. There is no past to worry about, there is no future, there is only the little, fleeting happenings of right now. You don’t necessarily have to sit in any strange positions, in fact, you can practise meditation virtually anywhere, even while walking down the street or waiting in line at the supermarket. All you have to do is let your worries go and be. Notice the world around you. Notice yourself.
VIDEO:Yoga is a great tool for athletes, both mentally and physically. As well as lowering stress hormones, Yoga also improves flexibility, balance, digestive health, and strength, among many other valuable assets.
If you’re still not sold, why not just take a walk? Go for a gentle swim? Jump in a jacuzzi? Do anything you can to relax your body and mind, so your stress hormones are lowered, and you can grow more efficiently.
Shout, Grunt, and Grow
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You must have heard tennis players grunting and shouting as they send the ball surging back over the net?You’ve seen football players and powerlifters shouting and slapping each other on the back?Well guess what? It works. It has been proven that intense outward displays of emotion like screaming and grunting can actually improve athletic performance. If you want to improve on this effect, add in the odd swear word (but try not to get kicked out of the gym!).
Getting psyched up gets you mentally and physically optimised for intense efforts. It improves focus, intensity, and relieves stress. Interestingly it has also been shown to massively increase tolerance to pain.
So next time you’re struggling to hoist that last deadlift off the ground, let out a roar, even add in the odd expletive because you can’t argue with science!
Adding Sheer Pre-X to your pre-workout stack helps give purpose to those grunts and roars. This superb supplement is packed with scientifically proven ingredients and combines the energy and intensity boosting effects of a pre-workout supplement with the strength increases and intense pumps of a nitric oxide booster. Give it a go today and put some growl into your workouts.
Jonathan Warren is a national level physique competitor and personal trainer with multiple certifications including NASM, NCCPT, and IKFF. His specializations include mobility training and corrective exercise as well as contest preparation.