T Nation

Overcoming Paralysis By Analysis

Hey CT,

I know from reading around on here that something you struggled with for a long time was the concept of paralysis by analysis.

I often suffer from the same thing, and it often leads to anxiety and turns training into a chore. I know the lifts and movements I love to train and the ones that benefit my sport, but then I get stuck thinking, “Well, this article tells me I need this exercise as well, and this study says I should train with this method.” It usually leads me to trying to cram too much into a training block, or switching blocks so fast that I make little to no progress.

How did you eventually overcome paralysis by analysis? What are some tips you could give to someone attempting to do the same? I’m tired of feeling like my training is an uphill battle.

1st I don’t recall having paralysis by overanalysis. I had many issues in my training life but that wasn’treally one of them. Maybe one time in the past, butI honestly don’t remember having it.

BTW you got it backwards… paralysis by overanalysis doesn’t cause anxiety… anxiety leads to paralysis by overnalysis.

Let me explain.

First you need to understand what anxiety is.

Anxiety, at its root, is nothing more than your neurons firing too fast which leads to your losing control of your thoughts or feelings.

Overanalysis is actually a symptom of anxiety. Anxiety is magnified by uncertainty. People who are naturally more anxious will adopt subconscious mechanisms to reduce their anxiety:

  • Overthinking/overanalysis… this comes from the need to account for every little detail, to avoid unplanned events to cause an issue.

  • Overplanning … planning something in the smallest detail, trying to account for every possible problem to avoid uncertainty. Knowing that nothing can go wrong if you follow the plan reduces anxiety.

  • Being more introverted… you stick to people you know and you avoid sharing personal feelings or thoughts so that you stay in your “safe zone”.

  • Being very detail oriented… for example you must know every technica detail regarding a lift, once again this is to feel more in control of the lift, reducing anxiety (anxiety is when you feel like you are losing control of your brain).

Basically anxiety is when you feel like you are losing control of your brain so the defense mechanism is to try to control everything else.

Now, the fact that “anxiety”,the anxious feeling, appears AFTER your paralysis by overanalysis doesn’t mean that the overanalysis caused it. It just means that anxiety ramped up the point where you started to feel physical symptoms… prior to that anxiety was present but was limited to thinking too much and maybe some muscle tension.

People who are more prone to anxiety/overthinking are those who have too little inhibitory neurotransmitters in relation to their excitory neurotransmitters’ efficacy.

Serotonin and GABA are the inhibitory neuroT. Their job is to “calm the brain down” when it’s overactive. If you don’t have enough,when your brain start to ramp up you will become “anxious”.

So my guess would be that either your serotonin or GABA are super low. How do you know which one? Well if it’s serotonin you will be super organized, very routine-based, borderline OCD, have cold hands and feet. If it’s GABA you will be disorganized, will take everything personal, have frequent mood swings.

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Thanks Christian, this stuff is gold! Will there in the future perhaps be an article or video on the biochemical background of each neurotype? I’m really curious how for each neurotype the neurotransmitter balances are different. Love reading/watching all the content you’re putting out there!!!

Apologies, didn’t mean to put words in your mouth. I must’ve been reading too fast at one time and put two things together that weren’t necessarily related.

It’s strange, I used to be the former almost to a T, but never really felt the physical effects of anxiety. I always just assumed I was a level-headed person. The last few months, I definitely relate to the latter (and I can pinpoint why upon reflection).

Thanks for setting some things straight. I’ll go do some research on combating the issue.

Here’s the thing… “anxiety” doesn’t mean that your anxious. It means that your brain is constantly firing too fast. You likely didn’t feel anxious because your coping mechanisms were enough to prevent getting too deep into overactivation of the brain. i.e. you likely had enough GABA to keep your brain under control despite the low serotonin.

My recommendation would be to look for increasing GABA.

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Well, here’s the thing. My main source of income (besides coaching) is education. Mostly seminars and online courses. If I give away all the neurotyping material, nobody will need to come to my seminars or buy my online course. I know that it sounds like I’m a capitalist pig, but I have several employees that need to get paid so that they can eat.

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In the mean time, because I still want to be able to train, how should I shift my training? If I remember correctly (could be misremembering again) low GABA corresponds to a 2B style of training?

Absolutely not! You’re running a business and I understand that. I am very grateful that you are so kind to share what you already do. Thanks! :slight_smile:

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Correct, heavy will just leave you trained, edgy, moody and unmotivated the next day

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Just to touch on this quickly; despite having numerous traits related to type 2A/2B/3, I absolutely despise traditional bodybuilding or “pump” work. I get super bored and demotivated by it if it constitutes more than 1/3 of my sessions, and need some explosive or low-rep strength work to feel strong and powerful (it’s also necessary for my sport). Do you have any pointers on still getting that strength “fix” while not overstimulating my brain in its current state? Maybe doing “pump” work (rest-pause, drop sets, etc) with lower rep schemes?

I sincerely appreciate your advice so far! You’ve been a tremendous help.

5/3/1 might be a good fit. Most of the work is submaximal, but many templates include 1 PR set with heavy weight each workout. You can get your “fix” that way. Then get your pump on with the assistance lifts.