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Stress and Recovery

For over 11 years, we at Discover Strength have gone against the conventional wisdom that “more is better” when it comes to strength training.  For years, we’ve taught the foundational tenet: You don’t get stronger and reap the benefits of strength training WHILE we strength train; instead, we reap the benefits while we are RECOVERING from strength training.  Research now supports the notion that two workouts per week can optimize the myriad of benefits from strength training.

However, until recently, very little research existed examining how the various stressors in our lives impact our finite recovery ability.

Authors of a brand new research study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research provides a breakthrough in our understanding of how chronic mental stress impacts the recovery of our muscles.  The researchers concluded that “life event stress” significantly impacted one’s ability to recovery from strength training.  The authors state, “In all analyses, higher stress was associated with worse recovery.”  “Stress, whether assessed as life event stress or perceived stress, moderated the recovery trajectories of muscular function and somatic sensations in a 96-hour period after strenuous resistance exercise.”

The take-home messages:

  • Our recovery and therefore our progress will be impacted by a variety of factors including our life stress.
  • To optimize recovery and results, allow 2-3 days of recovery between strength training workouts; particularly during periods of high stress.
  • To improve our results, seek to minimize life stress.
  • We don’t walk into each and every workout in the same physiological (or psychological state) and this will impact our workout to workout progress

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