Many bodybuilders don’t realize that weight-training sessions do not build their bodies. When you train with weights, you’re actually destroying your body. Intensive exercise induces microtrauma: Muscles heat up, small capillaries burst, and waste products like cortisol accumulate. Weight training is actually catabolic. For our muscles to grow, recuperation is necessary in the form of sleep and deep-relaxation stress-management techniques based on the principle of entrainment.
Entrainment occurs when two or more oscillating systems lock frequencies, which enables them to operate with increased efficiency. Entrainment also occurs in the human body. The most powerful generator of rhythmic energy is the heart. A baby’s heartbeat patterns can eventually entrain to those of its mother when she holds the child closely. Focusing on your heartbeat can help you relax and entrain biological oscillators in the autonomic nervous, digestive and respiratory systems.
According to the Institute of HeartMath in Boulder Creek, California, scientists have identified three stages of increasing order in your nervous system that result from the use of effective stress-management techniques. The first stage is neutral. Whenever people are frustrated or stressed, their heart rhythms are irregular and disordered. Bringing your energies to the heart and holding them there takes you to neutral, which clears distortion from the mind and the emotions. That helps the nervous system come back into balance.
The second stage is entrainment. As you go from neutral to a positive feeling, such as care or appreciation, the heart rhythms become increasingly ordered. Entrainment happens when there is frequency locking between heart-rate rhythms’HRV, or heart-rate variability’respiration, pulse transit time (a measure of blood pressure) and brain waves (EEG). That means your heart, brain and nervous systems are in sync, giving you access to deeper perception and intuitive insight. The feeling of entrainment is similar to those rare days when everything seems to flow harmoniously, in perfect order.
The third stage is coherence. Internal coherence is a state of harmony that occurs when you’re able to intentionally shift from entrainment to amplified peace. Scientists observe that stage as electrical equilibrium where the nervous system outflow from the brain to the heart is reduced so that the HRV waveform becomes nearly zero’the highest stage of peak performance. The so-called runner’s high is similar to the state of internal coherence. Inner dialogue is reduced to a minimum. When you have a passionate love for whatever you’re doing and are functioning at peak performance, you bypass the need for sensory or mental signals. HeartMath employs a type of visualization technique called freeze frame, which is explained in a great little book by the same name. Check it out at heartmath.com.
In my study of deep-relaxation techniques I practiced different forms of meditation and found that the restorative benefits were more profound than sleep. Getting enough deep sleep is essential, and meditation is not a substitute for it, but as I continued to meditate, I began sleeping more deeply. Meditation cleared my mind, relaxed my body and aided in recuperation from workouts. Over time, however, it became more challenging to maintain because it was quite boring. I persisted anyway but began a search for equivalent methods to evoke the relaxation response that I experienced in deep meditation. I used flotation tanks, cranial electrical stimulation, biocircuits and sound tables. They were all very good, but for one reason or another I didn’t keep them up. One technique I’ve used consistently for the past 15 years is light sound machines. Originally these were called ‘mind machines’ or ‘brain wave synchronizers.’ You put on a pair of sunglasses that have LED lights installed on the inside, close your eyes, put on headphones and adjust the volume of your CD player or Walkman. The sound from the stereo audio source drives a kaleidoscopic light show that you see through your closed eyelids. The rhythmic wave patterns entrain the body’s resonant systems, leading to a state of internal coherence. I was able to have a simple inexpensive device manufactured called the Mind Muscle Machine, and I use it several times a day. Over the years I’ve recorded audiotapes and CDs that I use with the Mind Muscle Machine to get psyched up before my workout, relax after a stress-filled day, improve my mood, restore energy, learn faster, enhance visualization and fall asleep. I keep one on the table next to my bed and use it right before sleep, to put me back to sleep when I wake up in the middle of the night and to get charged up before I get out of bed in the morning. It’s small and portable, so I use it when I’m on planes. It works with all music, as the beat causes the lights to pulse at different frequencies. Basically, faster frequencies energize; slower frequencies relax. The device has enhanced my meditation and helped make my visualization more effective. I also find I’m able to relax and recuperate better from hard workouts. To learn more, check it out at www.FrankZane.com or call 800-323-7537. IM