A little over a month ago I met Adam Lecker. If you don't know who he is, our good friends over at Google can pull up a thing or two on this brilliant man. With over 24 years of coaching, Adam is a certified personal trainer with a background in human biomechanics and muscle physiology - focusing on postural correction and mobility (something I need help with, badly). Although Adam’s extensive range of certifications is applaudable, it is his passion to bring his physiology knowledge to his training that gets those goosebumps going. There is nothing I love more than working with a trainer that brings back science into programs and trains our body based on your systems.
I’m not going to pretend I’m even remotely as knowledgable as Adam when it comes to this topic, the autonomic nervous system, so I’ve asked him to bless us with his words of wisdom and bring you a special blog post directly from his brain.
Part 1 - Training: Your Autonomic Nervous System
Are your workouts making you feel drained or invigorated? Is motivating yourself to exercise always a struggle? Not getting the results you feel you should? Maybe consider adjusting your training according to your autonomic nervous system. This may solve all these issues.
The human body has two responses to stress. Either adaptation or fight/flight. When our brain is stressed, it releases the hormone called cortisol. If we are stressed to the right levels, our body will adapt. When stressed to the wrong level, the body has a fight/flight response and the desired adaptation doesn’t occur. The autonomic nervous system has two main divisions. The sympathetic and parasympathetic. Basically, the sympathetic is responsible for dealing with that stress and the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for recovering from the stress. If exercise and training only involve the sympathetic nervous system, the body would reach a point of flight/flight and the desired adaption would not occur - fat loss will cease, muscle will not develop, and strength will not increase.
If you are under a large amount of stress in other aspects of your life, daily exercise that has high sympathetic demand like; a heavy lifting program, crossfit, HIIT training with body loading, and high intensity cardio, you may be left feeling drained, unmotivated, and in different levels of pain. If that’s you, you may want to consider the following:
Reduce the amount that you are loading your body, take the intensity down for 30-50% of your training days.
Spend more time increasing mobility, increasing anatomical function with functional training.
Focus on nasal breathing. Breathing in through the nose only is the most effective way to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system - encourage the body get to stress recovery mode.
Split your exercise into high days and low days. Try only having two high days a week where there is a noticeable difference in intensity from your low days. As a gauge on your high days, you should not be able to exercise for more than an hour. If after an hour you still feel you have something left in the tank, than it really wasn’t a high day.
Prioritize mobility above all else. This will improve everything else you do in your life.
As Adam always says, “keep moving my friends”. Which, is the perfect segue into the next topic Adam and I love talking about…steel mace training.
If you’ve been following UME on Instagram, you know I’ve been incorporating steel mace training into my life for the past month. While I’ve always thought I was quite fit, I can honestly tell you this style of training is VERY humbling. I found my weakness, areas to improve on, and discovered my range of motion is absolute rubbish. However, that being said, it’s opened by eyes to a world of possibilities and the excitement of improving my training and fixing my terrible posture! So, yet again, before I attempt to explain what steel mace training is about, I’ll leave it to Adam to share his knowledge.
Part 2 - Steel Mace Training: Making Mobility Moves
Although you may think of the steel mace as a loaded implement like any other, it is not. The true beauty of the steel mace lies in the tension that you can create from it and the myofascial connection that it can perpetuate.
Science tells us that muscle hypertrophy occurs through time under tension that being the tissue is loaded for a period of time. That tension is created from the steel mace through pulling ,compressing and bending. Because we can manipulate the steel mace using different intensities of tension this allows us to access all energy systems and therefore creating multiple tissue adaptations. Pulling on the mace at 100% will create an ATP dominant response, 20%-80% multiple levels of glycolysis, and under 20% more fat oxidation. It has proven to be a very valuable strength training tool at surprising levels.
The second beauty of the Steel Mace is that it acts also as a long lever slinger. The human body is designed for the strong powerful lower body to sling the upper body through rotation. This is controlled by our spiral fascial tissue that represent somewhat of an X that run across the Anterior and posterior of the body. If we only train in the sagittal plane and resist rotation, and isolate the upper body from the lower body, we must reestablish the connection through rotational training. If we do not we loose coordination and the ability to rotate efficiently highly increasing the chance of injury. When we swing the steel Mace correctly we reestablish the ability for the lower body to sling the upper body to achieve optimal efficient movement and performance. The steel mace also can help us condition our nervous system to more efficiently control our spine as we move through space.
All these factors make the steel mace the most efficient and effective training tool I have come across in over 20 years as a fitness professional. I guess the ancient Persians knew something about anatomy. We need to prioritize training that improves our anatomy not just our aesthetic. The steel mace helps us do both.
...I know, mind blown. Adam is brilliant! If you want to learn more, want some steel mace in your life, etc. contact Adam at:
Phone: (416) 616-7895
Note: we would have never connected had our friend Scotty not introduced us. Scotty is a good friend of mine that believes in the power of steel mace and has been helping grow the #SteelMaceCulture in Toronto. The power of people helping people is a beautiful thing - something this world needs more of!