What limits your fitness? Is it the ability of your muscles to repeatedly contract? Is it the ability of your heart and lungs to supply you with oxygen? This is a hot topic in sports science research circles, and here’s an interesting concept to ponder.
Some exercise physiologists and brain researchers think that ultimately, it’s not your muscular endurance or your cardiovascular ability, it’s your brain. It’s referred to as the central governor theory and it states that, during heavy exertion, your brain sends you messages you perceive as fatigue causing you to lower the intensity or stop exercising altogether. The brain acts over all the other systems of the body, telling you it’s time to slow things down if it perceives a threat to the system.
Whether or not this bears out in science, I love the idea it suggests. It flips the belief most of us carry–that our body isn’t capable of feats and we have to train it. But think of the adrenaline burst in lift-the-car-off-the-victim scenarios. I love the power in the idea –that our bodies are capable of much greater feats than our day-to-day demands ask of them, and our brains don’t generally like to consider otherwise. I also love how this concept re-frames training. It becomes the process of your body gradually showing your brain what its capable of.
Take that belief into your next workout and see what it does for you.