Every bodybuilder knows that when you’re feeling emotionally fulfilled, the workout feels way better, lighter and easier overall. Even more to that, heavy sets until failure are not something you fear, but rather something you plan and look forward to in your “emotionally fulfilled” workout.
Another well-known thing, is the fact that besides positive emotions, every person is able to utilize negative emotions as well, that might be generated by the person’s surroundings, or just different aspects of the modern-day society.
How Do Emotions Affect Our Workout?
Something that few people know, is that an emotionally influenced workout is highly effective when it comes to our bodybuilding goals.
We can point out here, that these high efficiency emotional levels, that every trainee aims for, can be looked at in a couple of aspects. The first of them, which we already gave you a hint for, is the higher intensity you achieve through an emotional up-lift (Pun intended). The second one- Better activation of the hormonal system.
From a bodybuilding perspective, the emotional excitement increases the concentration of the adrenaline in the human body. The adrenaline not only increases our working capacity, but also carries the fats in the energetic processes.
The positive sides of the emotional self-esteem are not only highlighted by an increase in our working capacity and fat burning, but also a better and faster recovery of injuries.
Back in the 19th century, the great Russian surgeon Nikolay Pirogov, concluded that the winners of a heavily physical battle, recover faster than their opponents, considering the levels of injury were the same.
Nowadays, this emotional-recovery mechanism is a practice in sports medicine.
Most of you can probably agree with what we said above, however, we will inevitably reach two questions.
- How can we lift ourselves up emotionally on demand?
- How can we get rid of depression?
Train in a positive environment- a clean gym with all the needed equipment.
Bringing your friends to the workout, listening to good music during the workout, etc. are things that can definitely help you, but won’t radically solve the given problems.
The questions about emotionally uplifting yourselves and/or overcoming depression episodes, are so many that every attempt at specifying them is doomed to failure.
The factors that lead to emotional suppression can be split into two groups:
- Individual – Social, family, sexual, work, relationships
- Common – Lifestyle, levels of physical activity, optimal nutrition, sleep and recovery
Even a slight look at these two points, can lead us to the conclusion that the first group of factors has a strongly individual character. Unfortunately, the changes to those factors can not be planned, but only wished for. This is mainly because you are not the only person in charge of a two-sided relationship, be it with your boss, girlfriend, or family.
When the central nervous system (CNS) receives stress signals, the adrenal glands activate and start producing a higher number of hormones- Adrenaline, noradrenaline, aldosterone and cortisol. These hormones raise the heart rate, blood pressure, blood sugar and as an end result, we have a higher working capacity.
However, if there isn’t an immediate, adequate physical expression, this state of excitement will turn into a prolonged over-excitement. From then on, the CNS doesn’t function optimally, and as a result our thoughts become inconsistent, confused and slowed down.
Apparently, this algorithm: Stress – excitement – physical activity is evolutionally imposed by nature. This is mostly due to the fact that our ancestors, could only use their skeletal musculature to react to the countless number of dangerous situations, happening in their harsh reality.
In other words, the main point here, is that we NEED TO and MUST release the inner tension, created by an emotional influence, whether it’s positive or negative. We’re saying MUST, because, as we mentioned, if you hold those emotions without expressing them physically, you will put your hormonal and nerve systems in danger.
Depression and Training
All the attempts to solve depression, via alcohol, coffee, tobacco, drugs, or even through social means, like reading books, going to the theater or watching TV, only suppress the problem. These means of ‘treatment’ are not a problem solver, but only make the issue permanent.
Sport physiologists and psychologists, know that the most powerful and natural anti-depressants are physical exercises. It is a proven method, that managed to treat people, who suffer from chronic depression and/or stress.
The main idea behind this, is the fact that during a workout, opium-like peptide substances like endorphins and enkephalins are released. The brain receptors react to these substances and an effect of relaxation is achieved.
This common weapon (training) for depression destruction, successfully boosts and controls the so called ‘hormonal surplus’. In regards to the CNS, physical activity stimulates, excites and relaxes simultaneously.
In reality, when trainees do an adequate, intense workout, they practically finish the naturally-imposed cycle we talked about above. (Stress – excitement – higher working capacity – physical activity – relaxation – fulfillment)
In other words, going through all those stages consecutively, we prove to our body that there’s a way out of the stressful situations, and that’s only through an adequate, intense physical expression.
These things give motivation and drive to the millions of fitness enthusiasts around the globe. However, it’s important to know that the situation is not the same for advanced and elite bodybuilders.
The intelligent bodybuilding coaches give one simple advice- Before stepping into the training room, for another workout, leave your personal problems outside.
In most cases, that’s easily doable, due to the fact that the workout itself, can successfully distract the depressive thoughts in our minds.
The problems kick in, when you cannot complete something that you’ve planned in your workout. For example- An elite bodybuilder’s reasons to be emotionally down, would be the inability to lift the weight for as many reps as planned, or simply the reflection they see in the mirror, which might not be what they want exactly.
Picture this- A competitive bodybuilder plans to complete 4 sets of 8 repetitions, using the weight of 150 kg, on the exercise “Flat barbell bench press”. While he goes up on the pyramid, reaching the last warm up set of 135 kilograms, he realizes he won’t be able to complete the 4 sets of 8 that he ambitiously planned.
At first look, he has an easy solution- Lowering the weight down to 140 kg. However, his mentality going into the working sets is already shattered, just because he felt weak at some point during his warm up. Hence, the lower intensity would also be hard to overcome, because of his emotional down.
If this happens a couple of workouts in a row, the “bodybuilder’s depression” will be on point.
The question here- How can we plan high intensity workouts? Or – How can we complete what we have planned in mind?
If we successfully overcome the difficulties, not only are we going to attack our musculature with an optimally positive stress, but that will also give us a strong emotional and self-esteem boost. This of course, will lead us to a more efficient workout and an overall positive vibe up until our next workout.
Progressive Overload Scheme
To our readers, we would like to present a couple of schemes to complete the progressive overload. These schemes, of course, are compliant with the problems we talked about above.
For those of you who have 3-6 months of consistent training, I’d recommend the following four-set-method for muscle hypertrophy, which is based on progressive overload.
After an adequate warm up, use 75-80% of your 1RM.
Set 1- 5 reps
Set 2- 6 reps
Set 3- 7 reps
Set 4- Until failure
After you reach 8 or more reps in set number 4, you can proceed to Workout 2. If you still haven’t achieved that, you repeat Workout 1, until you reach 5,6,7, 8+ repetitions.
Set 1- 6 reps
Set 2- 7 reps
Set 3- 8 reps
Set 4- Until failure
You repeat this until you reach 6,7,8,9+ repetitions, 7,8,9,10+ repetitions.
When your 4 working sets with the given weight, reach the total sum of 32 repetitions, the weights are increased with 4-5% and start applying the same scheme, starting from Workout 1.
For the lower body, the repetitions are 50-70% higher.
That type of methodology is based on the following facts:
- It grants a progressive overload, while also granting the successful completion of the first three sets, due to the fact this load has been overcame in the previous workout.
- The intensity is high enough, and doesn’t exceed the optimal intensity of 70-85%
- If you stay consistent with this, the scheme grants you morph o-functional development.
- Positive stress is realized (Sets until failure).
- The consecutive, step-by-step increase in intensity gives a De-adapting effect.
- It’s easily noticeable that in a mentally-training aspect, this scheme is constructed so that it would grant the completion of the first 3 sets. Those first sets are hypertrophy focused. This fashion of training, will also grant you a maximum amount of positive stress, through the last set until failure.
As a whole, we can say that the correctly planned pyramid, is the typical example for an effective, emotionally fulfilling workout. We also put the ideas of progressive, well planned overload in our cardio for beginner’s article.
So, what is the leading factor in our training cycle? Does the good mood increase our working capacity and efficiency, or does the good workout lead to a good mood and positive emotions?
The real answer to the given questions, is that the physical activity and positive emotions are in an indistinguishable, two-way, interrelated connection.
We can certainly confirm one thing however. And that is the fact that the optimally planned and successfully completed workout, transforms the negative thoughts caused by the modern-day society and/or our personal lives, into positive, constructively used energy.
And that, my dear readers, makes us feel fulfilled and relaxed, which, in the end of the day is our final goal, besides the goals we have with our physical development.