A lot of strength athletes are obsessed with finding the perfect workout plan. However, they often forget about stress and relaxation. You could have the best workout plan in the world, but if you’re experiencing a lot of stress, you will find that progression comes very slowly.

“Stress is the killer of gains.” ~Greg Nuckols


How Does Stress Influence Recovery?

After a heavy workout, the body needs time to recover. Too much stress can undermine this process, causing the growth of muscle mass and strength to slow down. This has to do with a couple of reasons.

First of all, stress causes the body to create cortisol. Too much cortisol has a negative impact on protein synthesis, the conversion of muscular proteins to muscle tissue. Therefore, cortisol is detrimental to muscle growth [1].

Furthermore, stress can indirectly have a negative impact on growing muscle mass. Too much stress will cause a decrease in β-endorphin. β-endorphin is commonly known as the feelgood hormone, causing you to feel fulfilled and happy after performing certain tasks.

If stress causes less happiness after working out, it will become less fun to do. This will result in working out becoming more difficult to maintain, therefore killing your progress.

Secondly, stress weakens your immune system, increasing chances of catching a cold of a fever. Not only that, but stress can also cause insomnia. Not getting enough sleep will affect your muscle growth and recovery [2].

Personal Story

My muscle strength, as well as mass, used to grow a lot during vacations. I had near to no factors that caused stress, I slept very well and I ate more than enough.

However, I have also known several periods that caused me to experience lots and lots of stress, causing me to sleep horrible and diminishing my appetite to the point that I was barely able to eat. This of course showed itself through my performance in the gym.

In other words, it is very important to find yourself a proper balance between relaxing and stress. Make sure that you rest enough and allow yourself to relax.


When is my Life Unbalanced?

It is not always as easy to determine whether you are experiencing too much stress. However, there are a couple of signs that may serve as a warning.

  • Ask yourself the following questions.
  • Are you experiencing tiredness more often than usual?
  • Has your sleep quality decreased?
  • Do you wake up well rested?
  • Are you more irritable than usual?
  • Do you have limited energy to perform certain tasks that otherwise would be no problem?
  • Are you having lots of negative thoughts?
  • Has your motivation (at work or in your private life decreased?
  • Are your workouts not progressing?
  • Are you rarely well rested before working out?


Take on the Stress

If you are a victim of stress, it is important to do something about it. Not only will stress cause your muscles to not grow and recover as fast as they could, but it’s also quite unhealthy.

Having too much stress for too long can cause overtraining, depression, burnouts, and several other health issues. Prevent yourself from caving in. The road from a breaking point towards recovery can take a long time.

Try to find out what causes stress to you. Are you experiencing lots of stress, a good talk might help you to take some pressure off. Contact people that you really trust, as they can probably help you find a solution.

Also, don’t be afraid of getting professional help. A solid coach might be able to help you find balance between stress and relaxation in your life.


In Conclusion

Stress is a true killer of muscle growth and recovery. Cortisol breaks down muscle proteins, causing muscle growth to slow down. Furthermore, stress will indirectly cause recovery to slow down, as it may influence your entire behavior.

In addition, stress can cause a lot of other health issues.

Therefore, it is very important to keep stress levels as low as possible. Make sure that you allow yourself to relax every once in a while. Live a little!

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