T Nation

High Resting Heart Rate and Sympathetic Nervous System Dominance



My resting heart rate sits between 80 and 90 bpm. Mike Robertson reckons an athletic person's heart rate should sit about 60bpm.

Oh dear.

Apparently it's symptomatic of sympathetic nervous system dominance, and a look at the list of the other symptoms for that particular condition shows they describe me perfectly.

Oh dear. Seems I'll die from a heart attack if I don't get it fixed.

So I'm going to use LISS cardio to try and lower it. I'll report back as to how it goes. For science!

Maybe I Can Be A Competitor After All

Hurry Yogi! We don't have much time!


That should help. I'd also look into supplementing with magnesium. Poliquin has written a bunch about how magnesium relates to the nervous system. (Say what you want about some of his claims, he does still know his stuff, especially in terms of strategic supplementation.) This info may also be useful: https://www.t-nation.com/training/12-tips-to-tune-the-nervous-system

Maybe check out some yoga, seriously. Not sure what the yoga scene is like near you, but "restorative yoga" is basically a guided meditation session with some basic and slightly-not-basic stretches thrown in. To paraphrase Dan John, a 90-minute yoga class is 90 minutes longer than most people relax in a week.

If you die before ever posting a picture, I'mma be pissed, so, yeah, get healthy. I'm figuring you've ruled out this being a short-term side effect from any of your not-off-the-shelf supplements? Sorry, but that'd be the first thing I'd consider, though I'm majorly in the dark and admittedly ignorant in terms of that side of things.


Do you consider yourself "Athletic" ?? Just lifting weights may not be enough to get you there

There is going to be a big difference in the athleticism and health of a person who does Crossfit style training and Power lifting style training (heavy singles/triples, lots of rest) for example.

But yeah, if your resting heart rate is coming up on 90 that might be a sign that things are not optimal and its something to start addressing, good on you for starting to do something about it.


haha, hopefully I'll have a bit longer if I get it down a bit!


cool article, and I'm actually still a big fan of Poliquin despite it being fashionable these days to laugh at him. I wouldn't be surprised if in a few year's time his supplement claims that were dismissed at first turn out to be right.

It's funny you should say that, as I did actually try my first ever yoga class the other day. My girlfriend's been bugging me for months to try it so I gave it a bash on the understanding that if I didn't like it I didn't ever have to go back and she'd stop asking.

Crippled! I was absolutely crippled afterwards. My lumbar spine is stuck in extension and all the hyperextension we had to do in the class really aggravated my SI joint. It was agony, so yeah, I think I'll give it a miss. It was worth a try though, and I learned that the downward dog is a great activation exercise for the muscles round the scapula, so that's something.

Haha, if I get my heart rate down to 60 bpm then I'll take a photo in your choice of women's underwear and heels!

You're right about those - ahem - supplements in that they can cause a rise in blood pressure but mine has always been high anyway, and they've never made it shoot up so that's something at least. I think my lack of conditioning is much more likely to blame.

It'll actually be quite an interesting thing to see whether or not my lowered heart rate I achieve through cardio remains low when I use steroids. If I do manage to get my HR to a nice, low, relaxed pace and it shoots up massively when I use, then I'll probably quit the drugs altogether.


You always make good points Lonnie, and no, I actually wouldn't consider myself to be "athletic" in the least. I always kind of assume I'm in better shape than the majority of people but apart from carrying a bit of muscle, I'm practically sedentary. Lifting weights is the only active pursuit I have.

Think it's time to get running!


This is the equivalent of saying 5x5 doesn't work after one day because the squat left your legs shaky.

Different kinds, different teachers, different philosophies.

Give it an hones try, or don't and stay where you are...


Nope. It's like saying back squats hurt your back so you need to regress the movement to one that you can do without risk of injury.


Did you just read up on some shit and self-diagnose? Go to a doctor numbnuts! :stuck_out_tongue: Information is not a skill.

I find downward dog gets more activation when you're at the back of the class.


I'm glad to see this topic getting more attention lately. When doing LISS in order to lower resting heart rate, make sure to keep your HR between 120 and 150 BPM. Some people suggest a narrower range (e.g. 130-145 BPM), for what it's worth. Improvements in stroke volume appear to top out at around 45 minutes, so theres no need to be doing marathon sessions. 30-45 minutes 2-3x per week can offer substantial benefits.

Assuming your big pillar lifestyle things are in place (adequate sleep, nutrition, and hydration), I'd start looking at meditation and, separately, breathing exercises. Mindfulness meditation could be of particular use to you and can be practiced in a completely secular context for completely secular benefits.

On the breathing side, there are many ways to go. As a starting point, I would suggest the following exercises:

Both have the potential to help neutralize your lumbar curve and ameliorate your SI joint pain, as well as have a positive effect on your resting heart rate via activation of the vagus nerve.

I am confused about why there are so many people here insisting that you continue with a practice that you find painful and unpleasant. Yoga provides no unique benefits outside of what you can achieve with meditation, proper breathing, other forms of light exercise, and general relaxation. If you enjoy it, it can be useful. If you do not, you have many alternatives. No reason to do something that you find painful.


Haha! I can't believe you just called me "numbnuts"

I find downward dog gets more activation when you're at the back of the class.[/quote]

There was a bit of that when I was in the class. Told my girlfriend I wanted to stand at the back so people wouldn't see how bad I was, but there was an ulterior motive...


Ya, this is what I was planning. 120-150 bpm for 45 mins twice or thrice weekly.

Awesome, thanks so much for those videos. Breathing exercises I think will definitely help. It's weird, sometimes I catch myself absent mindedly holding my breath, which I'm sure can't be good.

That was my thinking also. I'm sure there's much better ways to get where I'm going


Let us never forget that Yogi made this promise right here: