Training hard can look like doing the hard thing: doing something different but that doesn’t have to look like getting completely horizontal. I work with humans that like to get after it. They like to train hard and life hard. To be honest, it’s epic. They show up, they contribute to the world and they’re go-getters. But meeting them where they’re at in the gym so they’re honoring their lives outside of the gym helps them to continue living hard. Managing stress doesn’t have to be bubble baths and meditation, stopping completely. Slowing down can bring on feelings of shame and guilt and sometimes it seems completely impossible when there are small humans relying on you, commitments, expectations. (Expectations are certainly something that needs to be unpacked, which is why mindset is the foundation for creating change … a topic for another day.) But we need to treat life like running intervals: we go hard, then we rest hard so we can go just as hard the next time. I get that you’re probably aware of this, right? You know the effects of stress, we need to calm down, meditate, chill the eff out. But why is it so friggin hard? Well, it’s hard because you legit have shit to do! BUT it’s imperative that you find a way in your day to stress less. I don’t want to spout off all the stuff you already know, but for your mental and physical health—and the bottom line to this is—you deserve it. You DESERVE IT!
Exercise is a stress relief—completely normal. But we have to remember that it is another form of stress.
Stress is a response to challenges in your life, mental or physical. It is a nervous system response that is sympathetic (stressed vs parasympathetic, rest). With that stress response comes an overload of cortisol (stress hormone) in ze body, increased heart rate and high adrenaline and noradrenaline in ze blood.
When you have loads of stress outside of the gym, often the default is to go into the gym and go ham with high intensity fitnazzzz (increased adrenaline, high heart rate, cortisol … see the similarities?).
It’s same same.
So, to deal with a high-stress life (people pushing and pulling you in all directions, expectations, commitments) you can actually help yourself by what you do in the gym.
It doesn’t have to be ‘rest, babe; slow down, take a walk and a bubble bath.’
That doesn’t help you because you like to workout!
BUT what we can do is use movement, use training to modulate that stress.
Firstly, if you have a stressful life outside the gym this does deserve to be balanced out with more parasympathetic activity.
Committ to at least 30 minutes each day to engage in down regulating things:
Meditation (stop it! Stop the eye roll. Make it mean whatever you what it to mean, this could be lying on the grass outside for ten minutes)
Going for a walk
How to manage life in the gym to keep stress at bay could look like:
3 days of strength training
1-2 days of short high intensity work
2-3 days of low intensity activity
As opposed to:
Doing metcons or high intensity training every day
Skipping rest or recovery days
Making your recovery days too intense
Not incorporating deloads
Not bringing enough intensity to programmed high output sessions
Working with maximal strength loads each session
There’s no stress-relieving workout. But there can be a stress-relieving program that still gives you the room to feel like an athlete in the gym, make progress but look after yourself in the process. It’s just smart, intentional, purpose-driven training. And you’re a smart, intentional, purpose-driven human so why not look after yourself in this way, too? If you want to know how you can honour your life in and out of the gym through exercise try out the workouts in the Your Body Baseline Guide. It’s free.99 and you can grab it here.