What’s the mechanism behind stress impacting fitness and gains?

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Only a medical student and not specializing in physiological sciences or anything. Stress of any kind such as physical stress or emotional stress causes your body to release steroids in response. Steroids are useful because they help your body have immediate source of glucose to fight against whatever is causing the stress like running from a bear. During this time of emergency, steroids (aka stress hormones) instruct the body that metabolic processes such as recovery from a workout or healing a skin wound are not prioritized – if you don’t put all your efforts into running away from the bear then nothing else matters. That’s why being in a continuous state of stress tend to raise your blood sugar levels, delay healing, and impair recovery from a workout. For this same reason, steroids divert priority away from maintaining your immune system and that’s why those who are constantly stressed tend to get sick more often or to a worse degree. Steroids are actually useful as a treatment because of their suppression of the immune system. People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or lupus or crohn’s disease etc. are given steroid injections to suppress their own immune cells from attacking their body.


Sounds hokay, but try mindfulness meditation. There’s a Reddit for it, a couple books on the subject and a bunch of andriod/iPhone apps to help. 10 or 20 minutes a day may help a lot.


if you don’t relax you’re not really recovering, even if you’re not doing anything


If you’re too stressed you may not be able to sleep. If you can’t sleep, you won’t have gains.


How are you managing your caffeine intake? Sometimes if you have a coffee “energy peak” early in the day you’re going to naturally be down later in the day. Caffeine can also make some stress feel a bit worse if you’re in conflict all day. My upper body strength surged way up when I got off daily coffee and only drank it on workout days- 1 hour before the sessions. without having the morning peak I had more energy in reserve and felt less stressed because I wasn’t throwing that gasoline on the fire of daily work stress. And in addition to that, because I wasn’t addicted to it anymore, it had even more energizing effect on me and I walked into the gym ready to bend steel bars.