Train for Meta: Lifting & State Control


“Adrenaline is an important part of your body’s ability to survive, but sometimes the body will release the hormone when it is under stress, but not facing real danger. This can create feelings of dizziness, light-headedness and vision changes. Also, adrenaline causes a release of glucose, which a fight-or-flight response would use. When no danger is present, that extra energy has no use, and this can leave the person feeling restless and irritable. Excessively high levels of the hormone due to stress without real danger can cause heart damage, insomnia and a jittery, nervous feeling.”


What separates the great from the merely good in championship contests? What gives elite adventure athletes the ability to ride 30 foot waves, or scale the side of skyscrapers barehanded? ‘State Control.’ Every amazing performance in sport or the arts is achieved by a performer who has tight control over his/her inner state.

Amazing performances aren’t that common for many reasons, but one reason is immediately identifiable: untimely adrenaline release/over-sensitivity to it. Adrenaline is the hormone in the body which breaks most people’s state the most often.

Adrenaline is our bodies fight-or-flight chemical. When we are placed in a life-or-death situation, our medulla in the adrenal glands releases adrenaline. Adrenaline causes air passages to dilate to provide the muscles with more oxygen, including the heart and lungs, and also the muscles working to fight or fly. Adrenaline also causes a release of glucose into the blood stream, which our muscles would use in an intense situation. Adrenaline also seems to affect cognitive function, leading to a heightened level of situational awareness. All of this is very useful if our, or a loved one’s life is on-the-line.

But what if adrenaline is released when a life is not on-the-line? Well, that is when state is broken. You see, even in a huge pressurized sporting event, like the Superbowl, the World Cup, or the Olympics, no one’s life is really on the line. Here a release of adrenaline simply causes jitteryness, diziness, and lack of clear focus, all of which cause athletes to freeze up in the big moments.

Even for none competitive people, adrenaline can be released at in opportune times causing anxiety. For instance when a man is going to ask out a woman, that inopportune shot of adrenaline in the not-actually-dangerous moment can completely tie up his tongue.

It is known that high intensity work like heavy lifting is accompanied with expressed adrenaline. Beginner trainees’ bodies initially react to heavy barbell lifting by raising the body’s sensitivity to adrenaline, which leads to extreme mobilization of energy resources during workouts.

For rank beginners this is necessary to power the intense work which they have yet to adapt to. However, over time as the trainee begins to adapt to the heavy loads, the sensitivity to adrenaline decreases, which then produces a more economic distribution of the energy resources of the body. This is one of the mechanisms of the body which ensures function economy during intense efforts.

This is why advanced lifters and athletes always have that cool-as-the-other-side-of-the-pillow demeanor to themselves (at least the natural ones), even off the platform/ring/cage/field. Their heavy training has increased their ability to maintain inner-state control, at all times. They basically never get nervous, unless someone’s life is on-the-line. This is how clutch performances are achieved in the big events.

It is also how non-competitive trainees can live a more stress free and successful life.

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