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Barbeau Training - Optimizing Human Performance




Think bright lights, loud music, ammonia smelling salts, and your training partner smacking you on the back before you squat. Feel the nerves, slight tunnel vision, and a surge of energy. That is your sympathetic nervous system preparing you to perform. The sympathetic nervous system, one of the two branches of the autonomic nervous system, produces the fight or flight response. In order to perform well during a workout, especially one reaching higher intensities, the body will significantly increase sympathetic activity.

The other branch of the autonomic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, commonly known as rest and digest, is the body’s energy preservation system. It results in slowed heart rate, relaxation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and a reduction of muscle tone.

Getting into a sympathetic state is what we are good at in our training and society; however, having the ability to move into a parasympathetic state following exercise is more difficult and potentially even more important for performance. Doing the little things to rest, digest, and recover are what ensures the body is able to adapt to the stressed imposed by the training session.

The obvious question becomes, “how do I get in the state of recovery after training?” I am going to give you three strategies which can be easily adopted, used independently or mixed together.
1.) Program breathing into your training

Adding breath work into your training, especially programming it as a final block, is a great strategy to get a head start on the recovery process. Initially, I recommend starting with a simple exercise, such as Gray Cook’s 
Crocodile Breathing, in order to work on deep diaphragmatic breaths and 360-degree inhalation. Perform between 2 and 3 sets of 5-10 big breaths, in the nose and out of the mouth. Next, I would progress to more PRI (Postural Restoration Institute) based exercises, for example 90-90 balloon breathing (see photo), or bear breathing. Lastly, I would make adjustments based on assessments of an individual’s infrasternal angle, pelvic positioning, and compensatory patterning.

2.) Go for a short walk post workout

Taking a 3-5 minute walk outside, immediately following training, is a great way to bring yourself down from a tough session and down regulate. Walking outside is especially advantageous if you lift in the morning due to the numerous benefits of early morning sunlight, including vitamin D and regulation of your circadian rhythm. When walking, focus on breathing, allowing your heart rate to drop back to a comfortable range.

3.) Stretch

Stretching post workout is probably the most common cooldown in the gym. Unfortunately, I believe some of the stretches, and the technique used, have some negative effects. It is important to focus on overactive muscles, such as the hip flexors, and unquestionably the lats. Using movement flows to open tight lines of tissue is a great option for a post workout cooldown as well. I have a specific Shinbox movement series, posted on my Instagram, targeting the hips, glutes, and superficial front line that I am a huge fan of post exercise. I also am a big proponent of using ELDOA (see photo), performed for 5-8 breaths, to decompress the spine. I find ELDOA produces a huge parasympathetic effect when performed with intent, and paired with diaphragmatic breathing

Look for more articles from Tom in the weeks to come.
Barbeau Training uses the Burdenko method, as well as other training modalities, to work with athletes of varying ages and skill levels, aiding them in their athletic performance and rehabilitation. 
By working with Tom, athletes will improve their balance, coordination, endurance, flexibility, speed, and strength. Barbeau Training is a comprehensive program that not only focuses on strength and conditioning in the gym, but also aims to maximize performance by working with athletes to meet their nutritional needs.

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