Our physiology (body) drives a lot of our behavior and the way that we approach a situation.
Breathing is one of the few, generally, automatic processes that we, as humans, can exercise some control over. And it has a great deal of control over which mental state we experience, that is, which part of our central nervous system we are experiencing the world through.
- Sympathetic Nervous System – Fight, Flight, Freeze
- Parasympathetic Nervous System – Rest and Digest
Check out the video below for a quick tutorial on the Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems:
So what does that have to do with what we do at Icehouse?
In a word…”Everything”. Understanding which state you’re in and how to bounce seamlessly between the two can be the difference between a BIG personal record lift, or a meltdown mid-workout. And it can help you determine which of our 3 tracks is best for you for that training session.
Don’t I just want to go hard every training session?
The short answer is…”No”. As humans we have a limited supply of fuel for “fight or flight”. If we stay in that state constantly, it becomes less and less potent, it loses its punch, and we just become highly alert (burned out) and exhausted.
So if going hard isn’t always the “go to”, what are my options?
To make it simple, we’ll keep it at aerobic (oxygen for fuel) and anaerobic (everything else as fuel)
Aerobic – you’re able to breathe through your nose; if you’re unable to do that you have to slow down until you can. These workouts are designed to move your body and build that base of cardiovascular endurance (allow you to go low and slow for a long time) and are the cornerstone of training for the long haul.
Anaerobic – you’ve got to use your mouth to some extent to bring air in or get air out. These workouts are designed to create a hormonal response that make you better at everything (quick punch of relatively hard and fast). We don’t do these often, and to make changes, we don’t need to.
How do I know which state I am in?
One quick check is to pay attention to how your mouth is organized. This is a quick check for efficient nasal breathing, aerobic and parasympathetic (rest and digest).
- Tip of your tongue is at the roof of your mouth
- Teeth are slightly apart
- Breathing into your belly through your nose
For more information on the fundamentals of breathwork checkout the Power Speed Endurance blog here
Sarah Skedsvold is a coach at CrossFit Icehouse. She’s committed to turning workouts into play and bolstering CrossFit Icehouse’s charge to “Build Everyday Athletes”. In her spare time she is in a constant search the absolutely perfect personal planner and calendar.