The best way to boost muscle growth is to chill the f*ck out. Yep, beat stress and you’ll enhance performance and aesthetics. Relaxation is your new best supplement bro.
You ever been so stressed that you can feel the anger building up inside you? Your eye’s twitching and your hearts beating faster than Mike Mangini beats the skins for Dream Theater? And that temple vein is gonna burst bro, Jeez.
Now imagine taking that red-faced stress ball of a body of yours and going to the gym. Do you think you’ll rack up a great workout where everything goes to plan? Nah, it’s just not happening bro.
Recent science shows us that there’s a clear link between stress levels and the ability to build muscle mass and strength.
So put down the stress ball, make yourself a protein shake and put your feet up dude. It’s time to relax your way to a greater physique…
The Brodown: Article Preview
- Stress science – what you need to know about stress and tension
- Research – stress blunts your gains
- The fix – getting all ‘woosah’ to boost muscle mass
Stress Science: When Mind Tension Beats Muscle Tension
Everyone gets stressed from time to time. Maybe some dude flipped you the bird on your morning rush hour commute. It could be that fat mother f*cker of a boss Steve who’s lumping the paperwork on your desk faster than you can work through it.
Maybe it’s the fact that finances are an issue and you can’t afford your next tub of protein (RIP bro).
Stress and homeostasis – an evolutionary response
Every single element of your body uses homeostasis to find perfect balance within its internal environment.
Rewind a few million years ago and you were a slimy amphibian, using his basic brain to slip and slide his body towards the nearest meal (or female slimy amphibian). Fast forward a few years and you’ve evolved into a hairy-ass ape – slightly more intelligent but ugly as hell.
And from there you took the long journey to becoming the strong, lean and beautiful bro you are today via Homo erectus (great name) and Cro-Magnon.
Note: You probably know some dipshit who’s still about as intelligent as an ape. He’s probably called Chad too.
During that evolutionary road trip, you learned something. How to deal with stress.
When we talk about a stressor, we’re talking about anything that challenges the way your body likes to act based on it’s environment.
Homeostasis refers to the perfect and stable equilibrium your body likes to live within. For example, you have a set body temperature you prefer, a more suitable blood sugar level, a pH and blood pressure.
And when that balance is challenged, homeostatic effects begin to take charge, in order to correct that change and bring things back to a more constant and ‘normal’ state.
Stress physiology – flight, flight, fight, f*ck
Many aspects of the cellular stress response are not stressor specific because cells monitor stress based on macromolecular damage.
Back when you were a simple caveman you didn’t stress about paying your rent, your girlfriend f*cking your best buddy or the fact that the repo men were at the front door of the cave ready to repossess your favorite rock.
You got stressed for two reasons:
- You got into a fight with a saber-toothed tiger or another cave bro
- There was no food to eat because the local bison were nowhere to be found
Either way, your body needed to respond the same way. It needed to prepare you to fight or run. And that’s where your fight or flight response comes in.
And it all comes down to evolutionary hard-wiring. Here’s what happens to your body when you get stressed;
- Release of epinephrine and cortisol from adrenal glands
- Pupils dilate
- Breathing and heart rate increase
- Blood is diverted to the legs
- Muscles tense up
- Palms are sweaty (unfortunately no mom’s spaghetti)
- Blood flow and nervous stimulation of your bladder and digestive system slows down
These reactions are the standard response to a stressful situation. Stress is part of life and a completely normal way of your body preparing you to knock the sh*t out of someone or something… or running away from it if you’re a beta bitch.
There are two other occasions when your fight or flight system kicks in too. These are when you get scared (think back to watching your first scary movie) and when you want to get amorous and leave your girl panting on the bed in a quivering mess of cum and guilt.
Because ‘fornication’ triggers the same stress result as fighting… maybe that’s why they call it ‘beating up the pussy’.
Did you know bro: When you get scared your nervous system can reflexively ‘switch’ off messages to your bladder and digestive system. That’s why some dudes p*ss or sh*t themselves when they get a fright. Not us though. We’re hardcore.
Modern man – a pussy that worries too much
Unless you’re a feral mountain man or Tom Hanks in Castaway, you don’t need to worry about hunting, fighting for your food or fending off advances from some giant woolly mammoth. All you need to worry about is whether you can get a triple mocha frappe with caramel shot on your way to your full body wax appointment.
Your ancestors would be ashamed bro.
But your stress response is still the same as it was back in the days of loincloths and dudes named Ugg. So when you think about that job interview next week or the presentation to the company owners tomorrow afternoon, the same stress response kicks in.
Your body literally can’t tell the difference between stress from a bear attack and stress from not catching the 9 am bus to work. That’s some next level f*cked up sh*t right there bro.
The same stress response happens when you get into a fight, watch a fight or even think about getting in a fight.
Stress and Strength – it’s One or the other Bro
Excess stress is bad for you. It leads to:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Increased belly fat
- High cortisol levels that’ll ruin your testosterone
- Depression and anxiety
- Soft penis syndrome (erectile dysfunction). And the last thing any alpha dude needs is to apologize to your girl as you thumb your member into her meat tunnel.
On other words, stress leads you down a dark and lonely path. One that only ends with a bright light once it kills you dead from some heart-related issue or other serious illness.
Research shows carrying mental baggage negatively affects strength and muscle mass.
High life stress may lessen a person’s ability to adapt to weight training
“But what about the gains bro?” we hear you cry as you attempt some relaxing new age Naam Yoga hand pose.
In a 2008 study, researchers recruited 135 college students. They put them through a 12-week strength program that consisted of twice-weekly weightlifting workouts for 90 minutes each time.
The students had their bench press and squat 1-rep max measured at the beginning of the program and also at the end. The group of eager young adults also completed questionnaires to rate their stress from things like exams and other life stressors.
So what happened? There was a clear relationship between those that had higher levels of stress and strength gains, with chilled out dudes making huge gains and stress out bros lagging behind.
In another study, researchers showed a clear link between high levels of life stress and decreased strength (as well as anabolic effect in muscle). Okay, it was in older men… but we all want those gains no matter how old we are.
Chronic stress ramps up cortisol levels
As a masculine alpha male, your blood is jam-packed full of the anabolic hormone testosterone. Produced naturally by your testes, ‘T’ is responsible for a number of characteristics:
- Muscle mass and strength
- Stamina and endurance
- Energy and mood
- Libido and sex drive
- Protective against metabolic and vascular disease
When you’re a healthy dude that eats well and lifts, testosterone levels spike. But if you don’t look after your body your testosterone takes a nosedive.
Around 5 million men worldwide suffer from low testosterone because they eat sh*t, don’t exercise and constantly stress out. Either that or they have an underlying health condition.
Either way, low testosterone can be fixed with the right nutrition and training plan as well as the best testosterone boosting supplements.
Why does stress lower testosterone?
One reason worry and tension might blunt your natural anabolic levels is that stress increases levels of a hormone called cortisol. And cortisol blocks the effects of testosterone faster than a cockblocking overbearing parent.
Catabolic hormones such as cortisol are important for breaking down energy when you need it. But excessive amounts have a negative effect on health, hormones and every facet of maleness.
We know that testosterone is the main hormone responsible for strength and muscle mass. It’s what makes you an imposing specimen of alpha granite and not some apologetic beta-chode of a man.
When stress goes up, testosterone goes down. And your gains start to suffer big time.
Key Point: tress reduces your potential to build strength and muscle, simply because cortisol roadblocks the very hormones responsible for making it happen bro.
The Fix: Deal With Stress and Build More Muscle
It’s all good and well saying you need to relax and smash stress in the face with an angry one-two. But how exactly do you deal with stress?
Here’s our SpotMeBro checklist to going all woossahhh and managing that cortisol:
- Go for a walk – enjoy some nature, listen to the birds, look at some green stuff and get some sun on your face. Walking won’t ruin your gains bro… but it will help you de-stress.
- Practice breathing techniques – your heart rate and breathing rate are interlinked. A built-in internal facility called respiratory sinus arrhythmia means that when you breathe out your heart rate decreases (and when you breathe in it goes up). So practice taking long breaths out to lower heart rate and block cortisol.
- Meditation – yes bro, buy some white linen trousers, stick some whale mating music through your phone and mantra your way to lower stress levels. Sounds stupid, but it works.
- Have sex – forget the Patrick Bateman-style aggressive slamming-from-behind kind of sex. Intimate, romantic love-making not only puts you in the good books with your girl – it helps release dopamine, oxytocin and other relaxation hormones that’ll have you skipping and whistling your way to work the following morning.
Summary – Beat Stress for Better Strength & Muscle Growth
The bottom line is that stress is bad for you. Not only does it decrease your mental well-being and elevate your risk of illness; it also steals your gains.
Get angry in the gym. teach the bar who’s boss and go full HAM when you need to. But away from the weights room, you need to learn when to relax to make the best gains possible.
You know what else makes you super chill? Getting those mental reps in bro. Here are some more sets of knowledge: