Impact of Stress on Exercise Gains

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In a prior post we discussed the impact of sleep deprivation on athletic performance.  As our schedules become busier we often cut back on sleep to complete our to do lists each day.   Although helpful in the short term for productivity, cutting back on sleep hurts our recovery and gains from exercise.  Research also highlights the negative impact stress can also place on the benefits of exercise.

Authors in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined the impact of stress on strength gains from resistance training (Bartholomew et al. 2008).  Authors placed individuals on a 2 day per week strength training program for 12 weeks and measured their stress levels, strength, and muscle size before and after this training period.  Despite performing the same exercise routine, the higher stress group gained less strength and muscle size compared to their lower stress peers.  This study highlights the importance of sleep, stress management, and mental and physical recovery during heavy training.