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Is stress secretly sabotaging your workout?

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Sweating out a bad day can be an amazing stress reliever.  A workout is always an effective way to forget all the bad vibes and also boosts endorphin levels…bonus! But what happens when you‘re too stressed to even think about hitting the gym? We know that a certain level of stress can end up sabotaging your workout before you‘ve even laced up your sneakers. Read more to find out exactly what stress does in the body and how it can have a negative and positive effect on your training.

It throws you off your workout game

When you‘re coping with a big life event, or you‘re “so behind” on that project at work, it becomes the only thing you can focus on. What suffers most? That evening run you had planned is sacrificed for more time at the office or winding down on the couch. Stress has the annoying ability to distract your mind and overwhelm your body, not to mention making you a lot less likely to stick to your training regime. Apart from skewing your motivation, you‘ll have a hard time reaching your fitness goals when your mind is elsewhere. When stress makes your training become another thing on your To-Do list, the quality of your workout will plummet as you‘ll sacrifice technique in favour of getting it done and dusted as soon as possible.

How to beat it:

Remember: stress is all in the mind. And it’s only as big as you allow it to become. While it may be difficult to push your worries to the side, thinking about it won‘t make it go away, and it certainly won‘t make it any better. We recommend doing workouts in combination with other stress management techniques, such as meditation. This will calm you down and keep you focused and motivated.

It hinders your recovery

It‘s normal to feel a bit sore after a workout, but when you‘re stressed, the effects are multiplied, as your muscles are stressed too. The mental demands of stress steal valuable resources from your body and leave you feeling more run down and groggy than usual. When this is combined with a tough workout, it‘ll leave you with nothing left in the tank.

How to beat it:

Unless you want to risk injuring yourself, it‘s important to give your muscles (and your mind) time to recover following a strenuous workout. Not sure if you‘ve allotted enough recovery time? If the thought of your upcoming training session has you feeling like you‘d be dragging it out just to get through, we suggest giving it another day or two of rest to maximize the effectiveness of your training.

It messes with your cortisol levels

Chronic stress hurts your ability to regulate the hormone cortisol, which influences your metabolism, immunity, sleep rhythms and blood pressure. Un-regulated cortisol levels will leave you feeling run-down, tired, and more subject to gaining weight, as well as making you crave more sugary and fatty food.

How to beat it:

Lack of sleep, coupled with stress is a total killer when it comes to reaching your fitness goals. And even worse when your goal is to lose weight. Sleep is essential in helping you restore your muscles after training and feeling refreshed and energized the next day. You can regulate your cortisol levels by turning in early at night and getting a proper sleep. Not sure how to set an early snooze time? Read more on our recommendations on how to fall asleep faster.

But…it does give you that extra push

Okay, so we may have spent this whole time talking about how bad stress is for your training, but here‘s the plus side: stress can also motivate you. Call us contradicting but we can’t deny that a slight increase in cortisol from moderate stress has proven to have a positive impact on performance. The one upside to knowing how to weather tough times is that you have experience performing under pressure. This results in more confidence that can help you run a faster 10K or complete that Kentauros workout with a new PB. Pretty cool right? Rather than seeing stress as a barrier to your success, try viewing it as an obstacle you‘ve overcome in the past, and that you‘ll no doubt succeed at again. It‘s all about your state of mind, and if you use stress to fire up your workout, you‘ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

Stress can be harnessed to boost your success on – and off – the training ground. By avoiding a state of mind that can kill your workouts and instead focusing on how to crush them, you’ll feel more in tune with your body and be able to achieve long-lasting results.