Guest Contribution by Sasha Tymkiw
“It is exercise alone that supports the spirits and keeps the mind in vigor.” -Marcus Tullius Cicero
For many of us, being active helps us feel as though we are in better spirits: we are calmer, kinder and more able to cope with life’s ripples. This sense of happiness we experience when active is partly because bodies and brains work really well with each other during elevated states of effort. To consistently feel the grounding effects of exercise, however, we need to challenge our body-mind connection before it has a chance to fade.
Neuromuscular coordination, which is the ability for muscles to work together to execute a movement, is what helps move our minds form a mind-body state. This connection between our brain and our muscles is what allows us to let go of anxieties while exercising, simply because our mind must focus on telling our muscles to move.
Just as our body and mind work in tandem, they also communicate simultaneously to let us know when they are needing a new challenge. Our body signals boredom by plateauing-a decrease or halt in results despite continued program adherence-and our brains communicate a need for new by replacing our pre-gym rush with an unmistakable feeling of dread. To get this relationship through this rough patch, we need to help the brain throw a surprise party for the muscles. A quick way to do this without too much planning is to incorporate the Time Under Tension principle into your current workout.
Time Under Tension Weight Workout
Select a lighter weight than you are used to (10 pounds lighter for lower body, and 2-5 pounds for upper body) and play with your concentric/eccentric phases (the up/down phase of a movement, for example standing up from a squat/returning to a squat position). Try spending two seconds in the up phase, and two in the down for fifteen repetitions without resting. This slow motion will cause your muscles to “fire” for a longer period of time, resulting in more tearing, which, equals more growth and caloric expenditure. The combination of counting reps and seconds will also require your concentration and will get your mind and muscles talking again.
As humans our journey needs to have challenges; we seem to have an innate desire to “overcome” and figuratively (or literally) climb that mountain. Without physical, mental and spiritual challenges to overcome, we aren’t allowed to access our true strength. Although training these areas is almost always painful (in a headache, heartache or aching muscles) it is reassuring that your body, mind and spirit will always have each other to share to their victories with.
Sasha Tymkiw is a certified Personal Trainer and has been involved in sports (competitive swimming, snowboarding, horseback riding) since childhood, making the natural progression to personal training in her early twenties. With a bachelor of psychology, numerous fitness certifications and years of experience, Sasha views pushing one’s body as an integral part of the human experience. Sasha works both independently as a trainer and teaches around Vancouver, becoming one of the first instructors who offered boot-camp style workouts in East Vancouver. Sasha is sponsored by Garden of Life Protein Powder and will be competing in her second figure competition in March 2015, promoting a long-term, balanced approach to the sport.