How To Be Superhuman

How To Maximize the health of your Central Nervous System so you can move towards your fitness goals in a faster and safer way.

If you want to tap into new levels of physical performance, you’ll need to pay attention to your nervous system. The nervous system is often the most overlooked aspect of fitness. We all have various goals but rarely do we pay attention to the health of our nervous system. To maximize your performance in any fitness activity, your nervous system will have to be functioning well. In terms of physical performance, every elite athlete has a highly efficient nervous system. In general, your nervous system is responsible for things like your digestion, quality of sleep, and ability to process information as a few examples.

Spinal Hygiene

If you want a strong and healthy nervous system, your spinal health will have to be a priority. Your body functions based on the information your brain sends to your spinal column. If you’re spine is out of whack, you won’t be able to function or perform at your best in any activity. One of the biggest culprits of spinal deterioration is sitting. When you sit, you’re decompressing the spine.

The solution to this is doing spinal hygeine exercises. I recently learned about them through listening to a podcast by Chiropractor Dr. Tommy John. I’ve been using these exercises for months now and have reaped the benefits. Two things I notice from doing these exercises is that my spine feels a lot better and I can think more clearly as a result. I usually do each of the spinal hygiene movements repeatedly for 3-5 minutes. You can spread them out how you want or do each of them consecutively as part of a spinal hygiene workout. Below are some of the spinal hygiene exercises I do. I also shared a video at the bottom of the page of a spinal hygiene routine.

  • Head Nods- move your head up and down as far as possible.
  • Head Shakes- Turn your head side to side the way you’d do when shaking your head. Turn your head far enough that you’re looking over your shoulder.
  • Cross-Crawl Superman

Cross-Crawl Movement

Cross-Crawl movements can help your nervous system tremendously. This is due to the fact that they cause both of your brain hemispheres to work together simultaneously. My favorite cross-crawl movement is the leopard crawl. However, there’s many other movements to choose from. Below are the top 3 cross-crawl movements for nervous system health.

  • Leopard Crawl
  • Cross-Crawl Superman: Anything that fits in multiple categories is a must do!
  • Baby Crawl

Hands and Feet

If you want to maximize your nervous system health, you’ll have to address hand and foot health. There are so many nerves in your hands and feet that any disfunction in those areas of your body will have an impact on the rest of your body. Why do you think people often lift weights barefoot or use flat shoes? Or why squeezing a bar tightly boosts your lifting performance?

  • Dead Hang Stretch for time
  • Barefoot walking
  • Standing Straight Leg Raise- 5 minutes each leg

High Stress Exercises

The hardest way to optimize the health of your nervous system is through high stress exercises. High stress exercises force your nervous system to upgrade in order to be able to do them again. The key to doing high stress exercises is to give your nervous system time to recover from them. The other keys to a healthy nervous system will help speed up that recovery. Below are the top high stress exercises to boost your nervous system health.

  • Sprints
  • Heavy Farmer Walks
  • Heavy compound lifts
  • Extreme Isometric Lunges- 5 minutes on each leg

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are your nervous system’s best friend. Too much stress can inhibit your nervous system’s capabilities. One way to balance out the stress you face in training and in life is through breathing exercises. Breathing exercises will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the rest and digest function of your body.

  • Meditation
  • Alternative Nostril breathing
  • Wim Hof Breathing

Beliefs

Your beliefs will dictate your actions and your outcome. If your beliefs are not in line with your goals, you’re going to have a difficult time. The key to getting your beliefs to align with your goals is to work with your subconscious mind through repetitive positive thought. This can be done in a number of ways.

Complex Movement

Anytime you perform a complex movement, you’re developing new neuropathways in your brain. This means you’re using your brain in a way it’s never been used before and further develops it. When I talk about complex movements, I’m talking about the circus tricks you see people perform in the gym to get social media likes. I’m talking about movements that require high levels of coordination and brain usage. Below are some examples.

  • Dancing
  • Gymnastics
  • Using opposite limb, something as simple as brushing your teeth with your opposite hand.
  • Cross-Crawl movements as previously mentioned
  • Any movement you’ve never tried before

Building a powerful nervous system will not only help you set new weight lifting records and excel at your sport, it’ll also make you better at every area of your life. It’ll also improve your overall health tremendously, since every function of your body is a result of the nervous system.

Photo by Evelyn Chong from Pexels

Video of Dr. Tommy John Spinal Hygeine routine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iryqejKOUXU&t=101s

Leopard Crawl Exercise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY-PDU_LhUI

Straight Leg Raise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJvrDA6f2U0

Strong Feet Equals a Strong Body

The importance of strong feet and ankles for your physical performance

A tree without roots can’t stand. If you’re physically active, you need to take care of your feet. Your feet have so many muscles in them and are connected to the rest of your body. If you’ve ever tried reflexology, you’d understand how much your feet affect the rest of your body.

From my experience, when my feet and ankles are healthy I perform my best. There are many benefits to having strong feet and ankles.

Benefits of Strong Feet and Ankles

Better Balance: This one is pretty obvious. When your feet and ankles are strong, your balance will be better. This is important in every fitness activity that involves standing. When your balance is off, your other muscles will have to work even harder. This will make the activity you’re doing more difficult than necessary.

Injury Prevention: Playing any sport with weak feet and ankles is a recipe for disaster. In most sports you’re constantly changing directions and putting your ankles in awkward positions. When your feet and ankles are strong, these awkward positions won’t be an issue to you. I already mentioned how other parts of your body have to work even harder when your feet and ankles are weak. This can lead to overcompensation of those muscles. Overcompensation of muscles often lead to injuries. If you’ve ever tried to squat with a bad ankle you’d understand. It sucks!

Stronger Nervous System: There are several nerves in your feet that connect with the rest of your body, including your brain. When my feet have been strong and healthy, other parts of my body were too.

 

Feet and Ankle Strengthening Exercises

Tennis ball, wall throws: This is one of my favorite feet and ankle strengthening exercises. To do this exercise, stand on one leg and use your opposite hand to throw a tennis ball off a wall. Once the ball bounces off the wall, you’ll catch it with the same hand. Do this for 50 reps and then switch feet and hands.This will also make your nervous system more efficient because your brain is working hard to keep both sides of your body in sync while doing the exercise. You should do this barefoot.

Barefoot Walking: One of the easiest ways to strengthen your ankles and feet is by walking barefoot. Go to an open grassy field, take your shoes off, and start walking. You may get some funny looks but the benefits are worth it. Barefoot walking has helped me recover from a previous ankle injury. Not only will you feet and ankles get stronger and healthier but you’ll also feel better because all the nerves in your feet will be stimulated. I’ll go more in-depth on barefoot walking benefits in a future post.

Standing Yoga Poses: I’m a big fan of yoga for physical health. It’s something I do several times a week. Standing yoga poses like the Warrior 3 and the Tree Pose will definitely help with ankle and foot strength. If you want to make them even more challenging, try these poses with your eyes close. This actually makes your feet and ankles work harder to stabilize.

If you haven’t been taking care of your feet and ankles then you’re missing out on several performance benefits. Stronger feet and ankles could be the missing link to your training program that moves you significantly closer to your goals. Give some of these exercises a try and reap the benefits.

Photo by Gabriela Mendes from Pexels

Achieving Peak Performance

Have you ever had a workout in which everything was going smoothly or played basketball and you were making every shot? You didn’t have to think about your next movement. You didn’t feel any struggle. That’s how it’s like when you’re achieving peak performance or you’re in a flow state.

I’ve experienced this a number of times in life, and especially when doing some type of physical activity. It’s one of the best feelings. Once you get in that zone once, you’re always pursuing it. Based on my experience, the best way to get in this zone is not to pursue it. It just hits you like a wave and you can’t help but move with it.

You may not be an Olympic athlete but you can still achieve peak performance in your chosen activity. I don’t recommend chasing this zone but there are things you can do to increase your chances of getting there. I’m basing this on my personal experience and ideas shared by experts.

How To Get in The Zone

1. Challenge Yourself. Why would your mind and body push you to greatness if you’re doing something easy. You need to stretch yourself with an activity that challenges you. That activity also has to be something you’re familiar with. If you’ve never played the piano or even thought about playing, you probably won’t achieve peak performance the first time you try playing. This brings me to my next point.

2. Repetition is Key. If you want to throw a no-hitter, you’ll need to practice your pitches. If you want to deadlift 500 pounds, you’ll need to deadlift often. Your nervous system needs to be familiar with a skill or movement so you can perform your best at it. This might be one of the reasons Pavel Tsatsouline recommends greasing the groove .

In addition to physical practice, mental practice will help you achieve peak performance. I’ve experienced this first hand with my personal fitness goals. I like to see myself performing a movement even when I’m not at the gym. I try to picture the environment, the feel of the weight, the feel of my muscles, etc. Since I started doing this, my workouts and movements have been smoother. Mentally rehearsing my performance almost led to an accidental weight lifting PR.

3. Be Present. To perform at your absolute best, you have to be present in the moment. You have to let go of outcome. You have to forget anything that happened in the past. Your only focus is doing the activity. You just surrender to the moment and let go of all internal and external distractions. One thing that helps at the gym for example, is to take a few deep breaths in between my lifting sets.

I remember when my friends came to watch me play in a youth basketball league. In the first half of that game, I was making everything I threw up. I wasn’t thinking about them or any of the shots I was making. I was on fire! Once it was halftime, I stopped by to see my friends for a minute. They told me how great I was performing and even how many points I had. I made the mistake of letting that get to my head and thinking about my stats during halftime.

The 2nd half of the game didn’t go as smoothly. Everything felt forced and I was thinking a lot. Every missed shot got to me. It sucked but it was a valuable learning experience. When I reflect on all the times I performed my best in different areas of my life, one thing they all have in common is that I was being present. Meditation can help with this .

I hope this post aids you in your fitness journey. One of the greatest feelings in any physical activity you’re doing is to get in that flow state where you’re performing at your absolute best. Everyone who’s passionately pursuing a fitness goal should get to experience this wonderful feeling. You can also use these concepts in other areas of your life to perform your best.

Photo on <a href=”https://bestrunningshoes.com/”>Best Running</a>