Adapting to Stress

Adapting to stress isn’t something lifters often do intentionally. For example, if we’re faced with a stressful day at work, we either skip training or try to overcome the negative effects by smothering them with tons of preworkout. But is that the best strategy?

I recently checked out a fascinating (to me at least) episode of Iron Culture podcast, which featured a roundtable of experts on autoregulation. I learned a lot but one thing stood out to me in particular: Consciously adapting to stress should be part of your training plan.

Questions to Ask When Adapting to Stress

Scenario 1: You had a stressful day at work

  • What sort of workout is planned for today?
  • Would I better off moving the session to the next day or going ahead with it and using the added stress to help make me mentally resilient for competition day?
  • If I’m going ahead with the session how should I prepare? (Taking an extra five to ten minutes to get focused, go for a walk, change the environment i.e. instead of training in the garage, maybe take the weights outdoors and deadlift in the sunshine)

Scenario 2: Family Stress is interfering with your training

Moms especially have it tough with this one. Men are barbarians and we can (as a general rule) compartmentalize that stuff and let the gym be an escape. Mom guilt though is real, and a lot of women feel bad for taking time to do something for themselves when someone they know is sick or in trouble. So here are strategies for that courtesy of our friend and contributor, Anna Woods (cause I’m not a mom. At all.):

  • I ask myself how much time I’ve spent for just myself that day/week/month?
  • I think about what is really being lost if I skip my workout out of guilt. It’s not usually anything my husband or kids notice but in my head I’ve made myself believe they will suffer without my presence.
  • If it’s really bad, I figure out how to include them. One will become a videographer, one runs music stations, one gets equipment or works out with me.

The Takeaway

Stress isn’t going any where. It surrounds us every day so you might as well stop creating perfect training plans that ignore the fact that life WILL happen. Even if you’re one of those people who manages to still follow through on the training plan despite everything that happened that day, in the interests of long term health, you need to realize that the stress you put on the backburner to train is waiting for you as soon as the last rep is completed so you’d better come up with some strategies for dealing with that stress, so it doesn’t impact training and/or recovery.

About the author

John Greaves III is a writer based in North Georgia with nearly two decades of experience in training at home. A former amateur kickboxing champion, John now competes recreationally in powerlifting. He takes a physical culture approach to training; believing that strength and health need not be mutually exclusive. In addition to his nonfiction work, John has written two fiction books, A Different Kind of Giant and A Little Lesson in Manners that are available on



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.