A series of new studies indicates that although exercise can destress us, our recovery and results from our workouts are compromised during periods of high stress. Authors of a study conducted at the Yale Stress Center and published in Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise concluded that stress has a negative relationship with recovery; subjects experiencing chronic stress took longer to recover from their strength training workouts. Interestingly, the source of the stress didn’t matter.
In a study conducted at the University of Texas, researchers found that trainees with low stress increased both their upper body and lower body strength significantly more than trainees who reported high stress. The high stress group still improved strength, but to a lesser extent
We don’t adapt to the stimulus of a workout as well when we are experiencing life stress. Thus, if we want to reap optimal benefit from our workouts, we should consider (1) proactively taking action to reduce or mitigate chronic stress (easier said than done) and (2) during periods of increased life stress, increase your diligence around recovery. A great place to start is increasing sleep (quality and duration) and adding an additional day or two of recovery in between each strength workout. And if we don’t complete as many reps as we did in our last workout, our life stress may be the underlying reason why