Sympathetic VS Parasympathetic: Nervous System and TrainingMay 10, 2022
Managing the Nervous System is an under appreciated aspect of training/ coaching.
Let’s dive into some examples of how this can go right or wrong:
A 24-year-old figure competitor is in a challenging lifting block, 8 weeks away from a show. They just progressed workout intensity, got a stressful work promotion, and decreased their calorie intake.
Coach A: Decides to program HIIT cardio 4X/ week for 20 minutes to maximize calorie burn.
Coach B: Recognizes significant increase in Sympathetic stimulation and opts for low intensity incline walk 3x 30 minutes and sends a nice dog picture with client update.
Coach B for the win.
Half marathon runner wants to break a PR this season.
Runner A: Goes moderate intensity on everything so it always “Feels like a good run”
Runner B: Pushes intervals into zone 4/5 (HR 170+ bpm) and accumulates some fatigue/ sympathetic stimulation for strength and speed/endurance adaptation. Also keeps long run at a low enough intensity to drive parasympathetic stimulation, up regulate enzymes, and recovery appropriately.
Runner A hits a plateau.
Runner B hits a PR.
Understanding Sympathetic and Parasympathetic drive is an absolutely essential skill for athletes and coaches who want to drive positive adaptations.
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