Ex­pert ad­vice to achieve the body break­through you’ve been sweat­ing for.

Shape (Singapore) - - Summary -

What makes your mus­cles cry un­cle when you’re try­ing to hold a plank, go the dis­tance on a long run, or do speed drills? New re­search says they may not ac­tu­ally be tapped out but in­stead are get­ting mixed mes­sages from your brain.

In other words, when you’re putting in the work­out time, it’s your mind you need to con­di­tion to get past that mo­ment when you want to quit.

Here’s why: With ev­ery step or rep, your mus­cles are send­ing sig­nals to the brain, telling it what they need in or­der to keep go­ing – namely, oxy­gen and other fuel – and re­port­ing their level of fa­tigue. The brain then re­sponds, ad­just­ing mus­cle con­trac­tion de­mands ac­cord­ingly, says Markus Amann, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­nal medicine at the Univer­sity of Utah. “If we can train our brain to re­spond to mus­cle sig­nals in a cer­tain way, we can ac­tu­ally push harder and for longer,” he says.

The first step is to un­der­stand your fa­tigue trig­gers. The sig­nal to throw in the towel dur­ing a work­out can come from one of two places: your cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem or your mus­cles. What ex­perts call “cen­tral fa­tigue” orig­i­nates from the for­mer re­gion, while “pe­riph­eral fa­tigue” orig­i­nates from the lat­ter.

You’ve likely ex­pe­ri­enced heavy legs in the last kilo­me­tres of a race or trem­bling arms as you lower your­self for a fi­nal set of push-ups in boot­camp. That’s pe­riph­eral fa­tigue, a de­crease in your mus­cles’ abil­ity to gen­er­ate power. Un­til re­cently, it was as­sumed that pe­riph­eral fa­tigue dic­tates a cer­tain thresh­old at which your mus­cles give up.

But new re­search in the jour­nal Medicine & Science in Sports & Ex­er­cise found that the brain can ac­tu­ally un­der­es­ti­mate how much gas you have left in the tank, and in re­sponse, ask your mus­cles for less ef­fort.

In the study, cy­clists com­pleted three rides at vary­ing in­ten­si­ties un­til they reached ex­haus­tion: At sprint speed, they lasted an av­er­age of three min­utes; at race pace, they lasted 11 min­utes; and at a chal­leng­ing en­durance pace, they lasted 42 min­utes.

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