Written by Brooke Floyd
Are you doing more harm than good training during bouts of high Stress?
“I’m just so stressed” is a weekly, if not daily, statement I hear all too often from people/clients about how they are feeling. As a coach it forces my hand to then adjust sessions and moderate
volume to not compound the stress of daily life. As you read this many of you maybe be then
thinking, wait? Training is my stress outlet. And yes, it most certainly can be.
Training and daily exercise are used by many people as an outlet for stress, anxiety and
depression. It allows a boost of endorphins, improves sleep quality and improves habitual day to day tasks. But what happens if you are training on top of managing high stress loads? Firstly,
let’s take a look at what stress is.
What is Stress?
There are two types of stress – Acute Stress & Chronic Stress.
Acute Stress is a short term type of stress. It’s a way of managing the fight or flight stress
responses the body uses as a survival mechanism. For example – trying something new and
exciting, deadlines for work, adrenaline based activities, lifting a heavy weight for the first time.
Chronic Stress is more of a long term or longer period type of stress. Usually, this type can go
on for weeks or months if it’s not managed well or at all. Chronic Stress can affect the ability to
regulate cortisol levels. That then affects sleep, blood pressure, fatigue levels, metabolism, sex
Some examples are – Relationship issues, health issues, financial issues, troubles at work or
Each day our cortisol levels will spike or dip depending on our daily stressors and certain
situations or factors. The elevation of cortisol levels can impact strength and strength based
training. As day to day stress is a part of our lives, it can be disadvantageous. Here’s why.
How does Chronic Stress impact Strength Training?
Day to day stress or chronic levels of stress can take its toll physically and will impact your
strength training in a few ways.
Appetite – Decrease of appetite is very common. More than likely, when stressed,you will be
less willing to reach for food or want to get the next meal in. Food is used as fuel and when
calories are not being consumed it can impact intensity and intent of the training, where usually
carbs are used as fuel.
Recovery – Training does tend to put a certain amount of stress on the body in itself, as the
muscle fibres tear and repair to become bigger and stronger. If your body is dealing with chronic stress concurrently, the body’s ability to recover and repair from strength training becomes more
Sleep – Sleep is such an important part of functioning, rest and recovery for Strength based
training. If you are not getting enough sleep your body is less likely to physically recover leaving
your body tired and fatigued.
Lack of sleep can put more stress on the body as well as affect the mentality to perform when
needed, making training feel more exhausting.
Remember: You don't need to push sleep aside to be the hardest worker in the room, the
hardest worker is always one to prioritize sleep!
How can you improve your stress levels to be more effective in Strength Training?
Ask for help!
– Seek out professional help if you are struggling with chronic stress and are unable to
manage the issues causing it by yourself.
Make Sleep a priority
– 7-9hrs of sleep a night for adults
– Create a bedtime routine
– Try get to sleep at the same time each day
– No screen time an hour before bed
– So, put that phone down or laptop away, have a cuppa and read a book.
– Supplements such as Magnesium and ZInc are great to have as well before bed as they
help sleep quality and stress levels.
Breathing Drills, Yoga, Meditation can also help.
– Trying a local Yoga class to learn correct technique.
For more information, guidance or resources on how to get on top of your stress email myself firstname.lastname@example.org