Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Getting Jacked - Part 2 - Stress Management

In installment 1 we talked about the foundation layer for getting jacked and lifting bigger weights.  Testosterone.

Now I want to talk about the piece of shit known as cortisol and the whore of a mother that gives birth to him.  


Maybe I shouldn't call stress a whore.  After all, it's the stress of training that provides the stimulus we need to get larger and stronger, namely micro trauma at the cellular level.


But the whore I'm talking about is life stresses.  It's the shit that drives down your test levels, makes you feel like a bitch, kills training momentum, and halts progress.  

Stop giving a shit about every detail -

Everyone knows a worrier.  I mean one of those people who can't make a decision, worries about everything from the drive home to what they will eat that night to whether or not they have clean socks.  What do these people generally look like?  They are either frail or have that super dumpy look with muffin tops and sausage rolls.  Nasty.  

Muffin tops = NASTY!
These people are always worriers.  And their body shows the results of it.  What I often find is, these people generally have fewer problems than the average person.  It's just that they sweat every detail of their life so hard that everything is completely overblown to a degree that makes Tweak from South Park look like a fucking stoner.  

The second thing I notice about these types is that they generally eat the shit out of some carbs and sweets.  I know, I've trained these types.  And it's damn near impossible to get them to eat moderate carb or lower carb diets.  Which is what they need to get their insulin back in check.  And women are the worst because they are emotional eaters and will chew through a carrot cake or some cinnabuns like Sherman went through Atlanta.

Doesn't have shit to do with this article but is really cool.  I guess cool shit does reduce stress...

Obviously we're talking about getting jacked here and we'll touch on diet down the road, but keep this shit in mind.

These people swim in cortisol, and no amount of cardio, training, and diet will get them to the level they desire until they learn how to control the stress in their life.  

If you are one of these people, at some point you're going to have to ask yourself how important getting to get your stress under control if you want mo' betta training progress.

99 problems....

In Pumping Iron, Arnold talked about the fact that if he found out his car was stolen all he'd do is call his insurance agent and let him take care of it.  That he didn't care because he was too focused on the task at hand.  

You think Arnold was stressed out much?
Fact is, the MAJORITY of problems we worry about never come to fruition.  Think about that for a minute before you read on, and let it sink in.  

Most of the shit you sit around stressing over never becomes a problem.  Most of the shit you worry about that keeps you awake until 3 in the morning never becomes a major issue in your life.  How many times have you looked back after something happened and said "why was I so worried about that?"  More than you can count probably.  So why did you pour so much energy into worrying about it?  I could reference my worry chart from the first installment but you should have that down pat by now.  But real quickly, here it is again...

Do you have a problem? - yes - can you do something about it? - yes -> then don't worry

Do you have a problem? - yes - can you do something about it? - no -> then don't worry

Do you have a problem - no -> then don't worry

That's it.  Adopt that mentality and watch your problems not only seem to disappear, but your quality of life improve by leaps and bounds.  

Your woman, job, family, and finances are generally the primary root causes of stress.  My advice to you is to cut whatever it is out that you feasibly can, and march forward.  I had to cut some family out of my life many years ago because it was just too fucking much drama and bullshit.  People that keep family members in their life when they do nothing but suck their life away amaze me.  Just because someone is blood doesn't mean you should give them your blood.  Just like with friendships, or any relationships you have, if you are constantly working at it or its constantly causing you stress, find a way to cut it out.  You get one go around, don't spend it trying to fix someones mess that doesn't give a shit if it gets fixed or not.  At some point be smart enough to say "I gave it a fair shake" and walk away.  If you can't, go ahead and look forward to an early grave.  Sometimes cutting shit out IS taking the high road and doing the right thing.  People have to be able to help themselves sometimes, and want to change.  You can't actually change someone, and you can't kick ass in a grave.  

These stresses will zap your quality of life and training progress.  Managing stress in your daily life is paramount if you want to see sustained and steady progress in your training program.  

Being crazy in Paradise is easy...

Some of the things you can do to improve relaxation....

  • Don't listen to metal all day - There's a time to crush, kill, destroy and a time to enjoy the spoils of war.  You need to find some shit that helps you mellow a bit and calm the fuck down.  I personally like Buckethead for this.  If you listen to country at all, stop.  
This mode is cool, but you can't be in it 24/7
  • ZMA - Take it at night on an empty stomach.  It really does help with relaxing.  
  • Get a massage.  Just make sure it's a chic.  Some dude that looks like Eric Roberts from MASK rubbing on your back and ass will only add to stress in your life.  Unless you're into that kind of thing (not that there's anything wrong with that).
  • Have light days in the gym.  Training balls heavy out every session is a sure way to take a dive bomb into the training toilet.  You can still make a training day difficult by trying to beat rep PR's with certain weights.  It's a completely different kind of stress and will give a bit of mental alleviation from pounding low reps on the bar all the time.  
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.  I can't emphasize this enough.  If you aren't sleeping you aren't recovering or resting.  Low levels of sleep = high levels of cortisol whether you can get by on limited sleep or not.  When my conditioning gets in top form, I wake up really early but do everything I can to get back to sleep because 5-6 hours will not cut it for top shelf training progress.  
  • Get a pet.  Esp a dog.  Yes at first it will suck if you house train, but once you get past that stage there are tons of benefits.
Freeing up life stress creates room for training stress.  Too much life stress combined with training stress is not going to lead to a more jacked you.  I'm not saying to disown your family or divorce your wife so you can get jacked either.  Unless they completely suck.  Which reminds me of a joke.

Why are ex-wives and tornadoes alike?

In the beginning there's a lot of sucking and blowing and then they take the house.

I'm saying you need to make decisions that limit the amount of stress in your life.  You can only load so much into the wagon before shit starts falling out.  Once your cortisol levels start overflowing from stress you can kiss any type of meaningful progress goodbye.

Manage your daily stress, and try to keep it at a minimum.  When it comes training time put your game face on and rage the fuck out.  Then once it's over, realize how important relaxing and recovering is.  


  1. "Why are ex-wives and tornadoes alike?

    In the beginning there's a lot of sucking and blowing and then they take the house.

    Man i fell out of my chair with that one lol.

    Awesome post! I spent a few years with some parasites, it's amazing how much life and training improves when you're not worrying about pointless shit.

  2. Hell yes. Sometimes you don't even realize it until they are on you like leeches sucking the lifeblood out of you. I've had to clean house lately but it feel awesome now.


    ...I know, I was disappointed too.

  4. speaking of stress levels, this might be a good place to bust out Wendler's "North of Vag" rant. Yknow, for those who live under a rock and haven't seen it.

  5. Jim usually has some good quips about this sort of thing.

  6. Thanks for the post Paul. Made an effort this past year to cut out people and things that stress me out. Funny how much avoiding coworkers I don't like has improved my job. Also refusing to be negative has helped.

  7. You never know how shitty things are until you take time to step out of the cesspool.

  8. "Fact is, the MAJORITY of problems we worry about never come to fruition."

    Damn. I'm so glad you said that. I read that about 36 hours ago, and I've already started seeing it in my life. An eye-opening quote, you might say. Thanks.

  9. I remember the first time I heard it, then sat thinking about it and realized how fucking true it was. Made a big difference in my life right on the spot.