We often talk about stress levels and how they affect your body, health and overall fitness gains or fat loss. Although stress can be useful to the body in short duration and small amounts, and is a key factor in your body’s metabolism of fats; stress can be a serious roadblock to most physical gains. When your body is under stress for long periods of time, it tends to react neurologically in ways that can affect your overall fat loss or muscle gains, strength gains as well as mood and energy levels.
Usually people talk about the release of cortisol during stressful situations. Cortisol in small amounts is positive as it increases fat metabolism. However, in large amounts it acts as a negative feedback to switch on the body’s fat storage system, causing the body to hold on to more fat. If fat loss is your goal, then your job, relationships or even your foods could be hindering your progress. High intensity training from Bootcamps and improper Metabolic Conditioning protocols (with inadequate recovery) could also work contradictory to your fat loss goals, leaving you scratching your head.
A recent article states that researchers at the University of Texas concluded that larger strength gains in the bench press and squat were achieved by people with lower stress levels than people with high stress levels. In other words, heart disease and diabetes aren’t the only thing that stress levels contribute to. This study concluded that the ability to adapt to a new weight training program could be directly related to feelings of strain and stress. This is interesting as through my experience, many of my personal training clients are dealing with an awful lot of daily work related stress. Sometimes the gains are slower than normal with these clients and there seems to be a direct correlation.
My personal training philosophy deals with holistic lifestyle change, we address all issues surrounding a person’s health and fitness, from food to sleep and fitness training. The body must have ample recovery time and sufficient intake of vital nutrients and vitamins in order to function properly. Finding ways to reduce stress has shown to be an enormous step in the right direction with clients and many people report feeling better overall.
So take some time out and take a step back and ask yourself…is stress holding me back?