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August 23, 2023

The Positives And Negatives Of Living In Warrior Mode (Sympathetic System) – Stress, Binges, And AWESOME Workouts!

This post is a continuation from Switching Between Warrior & Buddha Mode For Highly Productive Days (Sympathetic And Parasympathetic Systems)

Warrior mode sounds badass right!

Warrior mode is what we want to aim for just before and during our workouts.

We want to spend 10% of our day in Warrior Mode. It’s the system our body uses when it’s in danger.

There are varying degrees of scale to it.

From full-blown panic attacks running from a bear to driving through the centre of New York city which becomes a little stressful as we constantly need to be alert for people and cars.

How warrior mode can positively affect transforming our body and mind

Warrior mode can save our life, get us through a marathon, help us lift a heavy object and allow us to workout with energetic confidence.

I workout first thing on a morning.

When I wake up and get out of bed, I start getting a little anxious about everything I’d like to get done that day, some are must-dos some are wish lists.

Thoughts start running through my head that I engage with and thus react to with the emotional response of anxiety.

This means I am beginning to enter a little bit of Warrior Mode.

Which makes sense right?

When we were cavemen, we’d wake up and immediately go into high alert for an attack or because we needed to go and hunt for food after fasting via sleep.

Being in Warrior Mode within these two scenarios is super useful.

All-be-it our daily scenarios are a lot less life-threatening, the body can still enter into a high level of warrior mode even if it is not always justified.

Because the different systems (modes) rides off our emotional response. Sometimes our emotions can get the better of us.

Don’t fight it

So, I workout in the morning about 30 min after waking up. As I start to get a little anxious about the day ahead, entering into a warrior mode state.

Rather than try to calm myself, I allow it to continue and I tell myself:

“I am excited! I’m excited to get into this workout and the day ahead, bring it on!”

It takes a lot less willpower to try and calm yourself down than it does to embrace it and channel it as a form of motivational excitement energy.

As I begin the workout I’m energised by this thought and I channel the energy into motivation for the workout.

Before a workout is a time we want to embrace Warrior Mode and become the Warrior.

Nutrition also plays a role in impacting Warrior Mode, which we’ll come onto below.

And the same excited thought switch can be applied to any stressor (kids, life, emails, “I’ve got so much to do today” etc etc)…

..rather than trying to calm yourself and go against the body. Embrace it and tell yourself you’re excited and funnel that exciting motivation into energy.

In Warrior Mode we also become more alert, our senses become more attuned, pupils more dilated and our brain more focused for some expected strenuous activity.

Again, we can flow with this for our workouts.

Carbs are used as an energy pathway in Warrior Mode

Our body has two energy pathways:

  1. Using glucose for energy: Fuelled by carbohydrate
  2. Using fatty acids as energy: Fuelled by fat

Each energy pathway is also correlated with each system (mode):

Warrior Mode = body looks to use glucose energy pathways, carbs

Buddha Mode = body looks to use fatty acids energy pathways, fat.

Our body will switch to carb (glucose) burning pathways in Warrior Mode, which makes sense…

If we’re looking to get away from danger, the body needs easy access to energy, this comes from the carbs which have been converted into glucose and stored within our body for easy access.

This is great for a workout. We want our body to be powerful and explosive within a workout, to feel energised so we can perform the required exercises effectively.

However, because warrior mode uses glucose and glucose comes from carbs, it also makes us crave carbs and wants us to consume carbs.

This is fine after a workout but not ideal outside of a workout. You may have experienced this yourself…

Ever been stressed at workout or just from general life? To then find yourself craving and reaching for comfort food: biscuits, cake, toast… mainly always carb sources.

Whilst there is a level of ownership and restraint required to eat healthily. You’re also fighting your body’s natural instinct.

Your body is naturally entering into Warrior Mode due to the stress. It thinks danger is coming, so long as we’re in Warrior Mode.

So, it wants us to eat easy access energy. Hence the term…

Stressful binging

As we’ve discussed, the constant spikes of insulin from food, especially carbs (whether they are from binges or not) can make transforming our bodies much harder due to the effect the spikes have on our insulin sensitivity.

Giving into carb binges also creates lethargy and brain fog.

We don’t want lethargy and brain fog as it makes doing deep work and focusing on tasks harder.

This is why we don’t want to spend our whole day in Warrior Mode (a stress mode)…

It will encourage us to binge.

Outside of workouts, we want to always aim to be in Buddha mode.

However, a binge at the right time is great!

Eating carbs straight after a workout is the right time.

This is essentially the body doing the same thing, wanting us to binge on carbs because we’ve been in a state of stress / Warrior Mode from the workout.

However, at this point, the body is going to utilise the carbs well because lots of blood is flowing to the muscles we’ve worked.

So the carbs will be transported to where we want them to go – to the muscle to help it replenish and repair stronger.

We’ll learn more about mastering insulin spikes and how to utilise them at the right time to effectively gain lean, healthy muscle, and burn fat, quicker, in the Nutrition blog posts.

How Warrior Mode can hinder our transformation

In Warrior Mode the body does not prioritise repairing or re-building. It just wants to survive.

It just wants easy access to carbs so it can use them for energy, even storing them as fat if they aren’t getting used.

The body is prioritising for a strenuous, stressful event.

Repairing and rebuilding the body can’t happen effectively in Warrior Mode, it happens VERY effectively in Buddha Mode.

Have you heard of people falling ill from stress, or people believing stress to be the cause of their illness?

Stress means they are in a constant state of Warrior Mode.

So, the body isn’t repairing itself or dealing with inflammation from life (covered below).

For the sake of our argument, that means, the muscles we have trained when we workout aren’t being repaired and re-built stronger.

They are being pushed to the back of the queue. The longer we stay in Warrior Mode, the longer that queue gets.

This is what can lead to burnout and overtraining. The nervous system cannot keep up with the repairs that need to be done.

This is why you hear of rest days being so important. However…

The term REST DAY is greatly thrown around but not understood…

If the rest day, meaning day of no exercise or strenuous activity, is still a stressful day in itself from life.

And we spend most of it in Warrior Mode. It’s not a rest day.

The body is not repairing.

That’s why we try to enter into our ‘rest day’ state (Buddha Mode) immediately after a workout.

A full 24hr rest day means we aim to stay in Buddha Mode for a full 24 hours. Giving the body longer to repair.

If we did a workout within that 24 hours, it would switch us into Warrior Mode for a few hours and hinder the full Buddha Mode rest day.

Perhaps you’ve had rest days that weren’t actually ‘rest days’ in the past and still felt really sore and tired after one?

We always want to try and get into Buddha mode as fast as possible after a workout to give our body the best chance of recovering quicker and better.

Things that can switch us into warrior mode

I edge more along the line towards the buddha mode end as a human. It takes quite a lot to stress me out and I prefer to focus on one task at a time and deeply, rather than trying to multi-task.

Sometimes, I need to utilise tools to switch me into warrior mode for my workouts. The mindful ‘excited’ switch is one of those tools.

Perhaps you can relate to me?

Or perhaps you don’t need to use any tools at all, as you lean more towards a Warrior Mode state as a human:


This switches us into Warrior mode. Any stimulant does for that matter.

I don’t drink caffeine regularly as I’m very sensitive to it. It sends me way too much into Warrior Mode and I get scatty, I can’t focus deeply in workouts with it.

However, my better half Frida loves a coffee first thing in the morning before her workout. She leans more towards Buddha Mode than me by a long way as a human.

Coffee has what we call a hangover response. It can still be in your system 6-8 hours after drinking it.

As with other stimulants, it can suddenly re-stimulate you further, riding off the back of other triggers.

Don’t drink coffee after 2 pm so it doesn’t affect your sleep.

Natural mushrooms

I take Cordyceps mushroom extract as a natural stimulant before a workout

Root extract

I also take Ashwagandha root extract before a workout as a natural stimulant

The HUGE BS supplement fitness stimulant market

Trust me on this, ignore them completely.

It goes back to our nutrition 101: The further away from the suns energy it is, the more harmful it is to your body.

Any manufactured stimulant supplement is not good for you.

Blue Light

Blue light comes from laptops and phones and puts us into a state of Warrior Mode.

Looking at your phone or a screen before bedtime is not a good idea. You are priming the body for Warrior Mode.

Many studies have been done that prove the negative impact blue light has on our sleep.

It doesn’t allow us to get into a deep sleep and can make the act of getting to sleep harder.

I have a strict digital sunset – no screen time of any sort after 7:30 pm. I would like to improve on this and get it down to 6 pm eventually.

Try and set yourself a digital sunset so you can gently ease into Buddha Mode before bed, making sleep come easier, deeper and more beneficial to transforming your body and mind.

I keep my laptop and phone on night mode 24/7. You’ll notice on this mode it emits a yellow tone of light instead of blue.

Try it, I guarantee once you’ve used this mode for a while. Going back to the normal bright blue light mode feels like your eyes are burning out.


Whilst, not a stimulant, it still has the effect of edging us more towards Warrior Mode than Buddha Mode.

You may think that large glass of wine on an evening is relaxing.

But, it’s more of a mask. It also hinders the bodies ability to uptake nutrients into cells.

Not great before sleep when we have the chance to be at our most anabolic (growing) for restoration and lean muscle growth to transform our body. More on this below.

Try and limit your alcohol intake to social events.


This may just be a British thing. But, always make sure to get a decaffeinated tea for drinking tea before bed.

Tea contains caffeine and it has the same effect as caffeine from coffee. Good before a workout.

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The Positives And Negatives Of Living In Warrior Mode (Sympathetic System) - Stress, Binges, And AWESOME Workouts!

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