A Few Facts Re: Physiology Of Training

There are two nodes of the heart.

The Sinoatrial (SA) node is responsible for your heart rate. It acts as a pacemaker.

The Atrioventricular (AV) node is responsible for ventricular contraction.

So, you go in and see your doctor for a physical. And, as with most every appointment, your blood pressure is checked. Your blood pressure is 104/70. Your SYSTOLIC blood pressure (the first number) represents the maximum amount of blood that has been injected into the aorta and other arteries. Then, as blood drains from the arteries, you get the DIASTOLIC reading (the second number).

Now, let’s say before you went to see your doctor, you were in a car accident. You weren’t seriously injured, but it scared the crap out of you! In times of emergencies or stressful situations, your body goes through what’s called the “fight or flight” response. Systolic blood pressure goes up. Your breathing becomes more labored. The availability of stored carbs and fats for fuel is increased, and the central nervous system in on full alert. This response can also happen during strenuous physical activity.

This fight or flight response will keep you going, but what happens when you “hit a wall” during your work out? And, what can you do to help get past it? I’ve experienced this many times as a long distance runner. I’d run for a number of miles, and then my body would feel fatigued. I felt as though my engine wanted to shut down, so to speak. At times, I would imagine lying down under a tree and taking a much needed nap. Screw the race! When your muscles become tired, your body’s glycogen (substance stored in the body as carbs) levels are reduced. When this happens, your body scrambles to receive energy from other sources to keep it going. You may have heard of or witnessed many a pasta dinner before an endurance race. Carb loading extends how long it will take for those glycogen levels to deplete, and this will delay the need for your body to search elsewhere for energy. This can help to extend your performance and how long you can last. Keeping with your work out routine and consistently “pushing through” the wall can also help in training your body to get past that point where you feel as though you are losing energy.

Now, there is a point where too much is really too much. Feeling irritable? Having trouble sleeping? Does it feel as though you are putting in as much effort as your body can take and yet there’s a decline in your efforts? You might have what’s called OVERTRAINING SYNDROME. When you are overworking your body, you will hit a “wall”. The best way to prevent this from occurring is to follow a training schedule, which will usually mix in easy/moderate/hard intensity levels, so you aren’t completely overdoing it. This will allow your body the chance to replenish those hard working muscle fibers, and give it a chance to reach the next intense training session.

After an intense work out, it’s time for a good stretch. There are various techniques to use.

ACTIVE ISOLATED STRETCHING: Isolate the muscle that needs stretched, repeat the stretch 8-10 times, hold the stretch for no more than 2 seconds, and you can use a rope or towel as an aid. This would apply to sitting up with one leg extended out, a towel wrapped around the foot while you stretch out the hamstring.

STATIC STRETCHING: stretching a part of the body while the rest of the body is at rest. So, lying on the floor with your leg up, stretching out the hamstring is an example of this.

PROPRIOCEPTIVE NEUROMUSCULAR FACILITATION (PNF STRETCHING): A good example of this would be:

So, it’s a hold/relax technique. Someone can push down on the leg you are extending up (just one example), then release, then repeat.

So, during all of this working out and stretching, how much water should you be consuming to keep hydrated? Well, it’s recommended to drink roughly 2 cups/water 2 hours before exercise. Every 10-20 min during, you want to drink 1-2 cups, or based on how you feel and how much you’ve been sweating. Afterwards, 2-3 cups for every pound lost during the work out. Personally, I’ve found that my need to consume water during exercise has lessened considerably since I’ve started out years ago. If I drink too much water beforehand, I have to use the restroom a whole lot, which interferes. If I drink  a ton during, I have to use the restroom a lot, AND my stomach can get upset. The most important thing is to do what’s right for YOU. Don’t wait until you are incredibly thirsty to drink water. I usually will drink water after an intense movement, and the sweat coming off of me is usually a really good indicator if I need to consume some water or not. Afterwards, I always try to hydrate but don’t go overboard, chugging gallons of water. There is a condition caused hyponatremia, which is sodium depletion in the body caused by drinking excessive amounts of water. The best thing to do before starting any exercise program is to first talk with your doctor, and ask questions on what he/she feels would be a good idea for you based on your health.

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