Parasympathetic Responses: the Building Block for Relaxing

Now, I’m no expert when it comes to the bridge between the neurological side of working out and the physical side, but I know that if the first thing that you’re doing when you enter the gym is grabbing a foam roller and laying down, you’re wrong.

Let’s talk about the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS). The PSNS is essentially the building block for relaxing activities such as sleeping, eating, and watching TV. To strengthen this system immediately prior to working out is counterintuitive and could be destructive in the long run.

Try this example.

I want you to put yourself in your dog’s shoes (I like dogs… A lot); If it’s time for a stroll through the park with your little pal, the first signal is usually asking the little guy or gal if they’re ready to go for a walk, right?

Now, I want you to imagine changing the routine. If every time you’re going to take little Fido for a stroll, you have him lay down on his bed prior to your adventure, do you think that he’s going to be as enthused to run free as he would if you psyched him up prior to the walk? The answer is no.

What I’m trying to get at is that if the first thing that you’re doing is laying down onto the floor to “mobilize” (you’re really just being lazy), you’re pretty much priming the body to react in a way that would form into a mindset of not wanting to be in the gym (i.e. laying down on your couch after a long day of work while dinner still needs to be made). Primarily, we want to strengthen our sympathetic nervous system (more action-required tasks) during our time in the gym, not our PSNS.

To be clear, I’m not saying to not mobilize upon your arrival in the gym… You need to. It’s good for you. It has to be done the right way.

“So, how do I prime my sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system the right way?”

I’m glad you asked, it would be beneficial to do something that will stimulate the mind as well as the body upon the start of training. Have a plan. A blueprint, as well as a positive mindset, needs to be established before you walk through those doors. The mind is everything. If you’ve decided that you’re mobilizing before your dynamic warm up/workout, make sure to know exactly what you will be tackling and how you will be tackling it. Lying down and being passive on a foam roller probably isn’t the best way to tackle things.

So, the next time you walk into your wonderful affiliate or track, be excited (stay tuned for what to do on days when you’re having a hard time getting motivated about training). Be ready to attack the workout with unparalleled vigor and dedication. I promise it’ll pay off in the long run.

Happy training!