Stress Cookies? No Thanks…

This post is a bit closer to the fringe of the fitness and nutrition discussion. The focus here is on stress.

So. Are you? Stressed, that is. If so, do you know if it’s a healthy or unhealthy stress? Do you understand that distinction?

Enough with the questions, Aj!

Right. Sorry. The reason I ask is that I deal with all kinds of stress each and every day, and so do you if you are a cognizant human being. I’ll spare you the long talk on stress. Here’s the abridged version.

Stressors: Cookie Cutters Need Not Apply…

You’ve certainly heard before that people experience stress from many different situations and in many different ways. The kind of stress we experience, for most of us, depends largely upon the type and intensity of the stressor(s) acting upon us. All stressors, believe it or not, influence your physical fitness level to some degree. And not all of those influences are the kind your mother warned you of (i.e. “we are judged by the company we keep”). Some can be quite beneficial.

Stress and Lifting…

According to a January 2012 Men’s Health News article, “stress can activate a part of the brain that’s also triggered during muscle contractions…”, which some researchers contend causes one to lose focus in the gym (imagine working out solutions to differential equations while counting “1 up, 2 down”).

Unfortunately, the MH article falls flat in explaining exactly what kind of stress is at fault there. They do make a connection to a few generic stressors (e.g. work, relationship, or financial issues), but nothing quite specific enough.

Where’s the discussion on positive stress? And what about linkages between the physical (neural) stress placed upon the body during a workout and the mental (psychological) stress we endure at work and at home? What’s more, they make no mention of the connection between stress and weight management.

Let’s add one more goal to the list.

I’ve asked some questions but so far offered up no answers. I want to, and I will. My goal for next Monday is to get more fidelity on the subject. There is a lot of research out there on it, and I’ll dig up as much as possible.

I fully understand that MH relies on perhaps more than a few half-baked articles in order to create a platform for advertisements. Nonetheless, readers should expect (read: demand) more thoughtful answers to such questions. If you read fitness and health periodicals, you’re obviously looking for helpful information; not an advertisement for the latest pre-workout supplement (and don’t get me started on those other ads in the back of some h&f magazines).

Why is this such a biggie, Aj? We’re all stressed…

Right you are. We’re all stressed, and I want to know how it’s affecting my workout.

Say I had a boss with crazy expectations no regular human could live up to. Thankfully, my boss is supportive, understanding and realistic. But we’ve all had that boss at one time or another. The solution MH gives is to get plenty of exercise to help cope with that kind of stress.

Brilliant, MH! Only…I’m already doing that, and I’m interested in excelling in the gym; not just hitting it to blow off steam.

Come Monday, It’ll Be Alright…

So on Monday, we’ll hit this topic in greater detail. In the meantime, keep working on those mid-term fitness and nutrition goals (and on getting cheesy song lyrics out of your head).

I’ll sign out with an excerpt from today’s gym log. What a motivating session! Until Friday…

Warmest Regards,

The Workout — BACK and TRAPS


Exercise Sets Reps
Barbell Rows – Power 2-4 3 to 5
(115×5) 1min (125×5) 1min (125×5) 1min (125×5)
* Last week, I used the Smith machine. Today, I used the bar. 125 w/bar is harder than 135 on Smith. These sets were awesome! Much better than last week.

Exercise Sets Reps
Dumbbell Rows – Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
(60×8)* 1min (60×8) 1min (60×8)
* Note: Went up 5lbs from last week. harder but still good form; right stronger than left. Work on that with more isolation movements.

Exercise Sets Reps
Lat Pull Down – Muscle 2-3 6 to 12
(60×9) 1min (60×8) 1min (60×7.5)
* Machine is plated & marked about 60 lbs heavier than standard pulldown machines — fooled me last week when I tried to start at 120…not this time. Great sets!

Exercise Sets Reps
Seated Cable Row – Burn 1 40
(85x24x3x3x3x3x3x3) = (85×42)
* This is up by 15lbs from last week. Super tough sets!


About Aj

My name is Aj, and I am a fitness and healthy living enthusiast. Please check out my log at for more information. View all posts by Aj

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