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10 Tips For Managing Stress And Fatigue

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Here are some helpful tips for managing the stress and fatigue associated with CrossFitters and there training lifestyles.

1) Training Stress And Not Recovering

Training hard without enough time for adequate recovery due either to, enough rest days/active rest days or to much training volume is a problem in the CrossFit community. Here are some templates you could use with any program to help reduce training stress without having to stop training:

  • 3 Days ON/1 Day OFF (CrossFit recommended)
  • 3 Days ON/1 Day OFF/2 Days ON/1Day OFF (What I use and program at the box)
  • 5 Days ON, 2 Days OFF (Weekend off)
  • 2 Days ON/1 Day OFF/2 Days ON/2Days OFF (3 Days of rest)
  • Take an extra rest day if needed and make sure you are having at least 2 rest days a week. This is highly recommended for the older population.
  • Try alternating workout intensity over the week with a high intensity day followed by a medium/low intensity day.
  • Try alternating workout intensity for the whole week with a high intensity week followed by a medium/low intensity week.
  • Have every 4th week set at a lower intensity, de-load or recovery week (3 on/1 off).
  • Try a 4 week template of Week 1- High, Week 2 – Medium, Week 3 – Low, Week 4 – Medium.
  • Try a 4 week template of Week 1- High, Week 2 – Medium, Week 3 – High, Week 4 – Low.

An example of the varied intensity would depend on the athlete but could be as follows:

  • High = RX+ or RX
  • Medium = RX or Scaled
  • Low = Scaled (40-50%), reduced rounds (4 to 3 RFT) or time of work (AMRAP 15 to AMRAP 10)

2) Sleep

This is one of the most important tools you can use for stress reduction and maintaining optimal health. CrossFit can be very demanding on your body and it needs sleep so it can recharge and heal both physically and mentally to perform at its best. The problem is these days due to our fast paced, highly stressful lifestyle’s a large majority of athletes experience disruption to their sleep/wake cycles resulting in sleep deprivation.
Sleep deprivation effects your health in many ways such as causing hormonal imbalances, accelerated ageing, high blood pressure, obesity, memory dysfunction, headaches, body aches, low energy levels, poor recovery and decreased concentration.

Being sleep deprived adds unnecessary stress to your body so to reduce stress in this area you will need to get 7-9 hours sleep per night so your body can function optimally to handle the high levels of stress you are placing on it. Just as you workout hard to get fitter and stronger, work equally as hard at getting the right amount of quality sleep needed for optimal performance and recovery.

3) Fuel Your Body Properly Post Workout

A generally problem I find when consulting with CrossFit athletes about muscle soreness and post workout recovery is that they are either not replacing glycogen stores fast enough or they are not having enough protein in their shakes/meals to aid the body in the repair process following a workout.

Glycogen – This is important because glycogen is stored in the muscles and is a major fuel source during high intensity exercise. If glycogen stores are depleted then an athlete will feel fatigued, have low energy levels and their general physical and mental performance will be effected.

Protein – Protein is an important nutrient needed by athletes on a daily basis for building and repairing muscles and bones, repairing cells, providing a source of energy and helping with metabolism.
Athletes that regularly exercising need higher protein requirements in their diet than those that don’t. To help reduce the stress caused through exercise it is extremely important that you fuel your body correctly within the first hour post workout to help speed up recovery. We have found the following to work very effectively with our athletes:

Your post workout shake/meal should include:

  • 0.8g of fast acting Carbohydrate per kg of bodyweight (we recommend Maltodextrin)
  • 0.4g of easily digestible Protein per kg of bodyweight

We have found that by putting this into a post workout shake/meal and consuming it straight after a workout (10mins is best but within the hour) that you will quickly restore the energy lost during the workout and it will start repairing the body immediately. This dramatically helps with energy levels and it greatly reduces muscle soreness and mental fatigue. Fuelling the body properly following a workout can reduce the stress on the body considerably and can be an important factor in improving fatigue. Please speak to one of our coaches if you would like more information on this.

4) Poor Food Choices (high carb, sugary or junk foods)

It is scientifically proven that a diet too high in refined or processed carbohydrate can cause major health problems and is linked to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and psychological dysfunction.You want to avoid placing undue stress on your body and eliminate foods that are going to raise your blood sugar levels too rapidly. Avoid consuming rice, bread, candy, sweets, sodas, and most processed carbohydrates and base your diet on garden vegetables, especially greens, lean meats, nuts and seeds, little starch, and no sugar. This will aid in recovery from your CrossFit workouts and it will help you both mentally and physically in your daily activities.

5) Dehydration

As a CrossFitter staying well hydrated is extremely important and can be an easy tool to incorporate to help with stress reduction. All of your bodies organs need water to function properly and if you’re dehydrated then your body will not function optimally and this can result in added stress to the system. Make sure to have a bottle of water beside you all day and make an effort to constantly sip on it over the day. If your a heavy sweater during your CrossFit workouts then replacing electrolytes is a must. If your electrolyte balance is out then you will be adding extra stress to the system.

Electrolytes conduct electrical impulses in the body and are important in muscle contraction, energy generation and controlling the fluid balance of the body. When we sweat we lose electrolytes so these need to be replaced to maintain a good electrolyte balance. If we don’t keep electrolytes balanced then symptoms of fatigue are increased and added stress is placed on the body. Coconut water is a great way to replenish electrolytes.

To estimate how much water you should consume daily use this formula:

(Your Bodyweight in kg’s) X 0.033 = Litres of water

That is only a guideline as to how many litres of water you should consume per day. Consume more in warmer climates or on the days you are exercising and this will help to reduce stress levels on the body.

6) Eliminate Caffeine and Pre-Workout’s

When you consume stimulants such as coffee and pre-workout supplements your adrenal glands release adrenalin into the blood stream. This can be a great buzz in the short term but prolonged use of these stimulants can take a toll on the adrenal glands. This is because they are forced to produce large quantities of adrenaline and then can’t reproduce it fast enough resulting in the adrenals failing to produce enough adrenaline for the athlete to function properly. If you want rebuild and restore function to the adrenal glands then you will need reduce or eliminate the amount of stimulants you are consuming on a daily basis.

7) Work Stress

Ask yourself if your job is damaging your health. We can get so caught up in work that we lose sight of whats really important in life, remember we work to live, not live to work. If your job is highly stressful then addressing this and learning to manage the stress associated with it should be a high priority. Work is a big part of your day so identify the stressors that are causing you the most problems and work at lowering them before they turn into major health or relationship problems. Depending on the situation this can be a hard one to manage and it may require some professional help.

8) Negative Relationships

Negativity breeds negativity! Take the negative people out of your life that you find draining and stressful. Eliminate those that rob you of energy and only allow people in that are a positive, supportive and fill you with energy.
If you are in a relationship that has been causing you emotional stress for some time, whether it be a personal, work or a family related relationship, then it is time to do something about it because its going to have a big impact on your overall health if you don’t and can be a contributing factor to adrenal fatigue. If you know this to be a problem and don’t feel you can change it by yourself then seeking professional help can be the best avenue.

9) Learn to Diaphragmatically Breath

Along side sleep I believe diaphragmatic breathing is one of the most important tools you can use for reducing stress. It can be a great tool for relaxing and calming the body but when used properly in sport can be a great tool for instant strength, flexibility and improved recovery.

Most people breathe with their chest rather than their belly. Breathing like this isn’t effective because you are limiting the amount of air you can bring into the body. It will also effect the mobility and flexibility of your upper body because the muscles surrounding the ribcage, upper back, shoulders and neck get overworked during inspiratory and expiratory resulting in the tightening of these muscles.

Please click on the links below and watch the videos on diaphragmatic breathing. This will help you to understand the importance of it and will give you some exercises to do so you can work at improving your breathing and reduce the stress placed on your body from inefficient breathing patterns.

1) 101

2) Jill Miller Fixes your T-spine and breathing | Feat. Kelly Starrett | MobilityWOD

3) WODdoc P365 Episode 402: Better Breathing Better Performance

10) Give Back To Your Body

Respect your body and don’t just take from it all the time. Whether it be mobility, stretching, massage, yoga, pilates, meditation it doesn’t matter just give back to it. Find something that is calming, relaxing or stress relieving and give back to it at least once a week. This can have a dramatic effect on reducing the effects of stress on the body.

This should help to identify some stressors placed on your body and give you some tips on how to manage it. Focus on dealing with one stressor at a time. Understand what sacrifices have to be made to reduce the stressor then implement a plan for targeted stress reduction. For some this will be easy and for others it will be hard and depending on your level of adrenal fatigue this can be resolved as quickly as 2 weeks or it could take as long as 6 months plus. If stress is effecting you to the point of adrenal fatigue then it’s time to take action. If you believe this is a serious problem please seek professional help by seeing a qualified health care professional to assist you in getting back on track.


1) Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome: by James Wilson (Author), Jonathan V Wright (Foreword)





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