It’s workout Wednesday, and today’s post is all about training post trauma. I am using the term “Trauma” here not to talk about post-rehabilitative work on a physical condition, but rather surviving a truly horrible and distressing life event. There are a number of things to take into consideration when coming out of a very stressful circumstance in your life, and if you are ready to get yourself back into some exercise to help manage the last remnants of stress in a healthy way, read up on this post today.
“Trauma: a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.”
Repeated exposure to psychological stress does a number of things to the body, and none of them are particularly healthy (that’s putting it mildly). While stress if life is a given in terms of experiencing work related stress, rearing a family, and dealing with the nuances of other adult responsibilities (paying bills, PTA meetings, long work hours, the list goes on and on), bouncing back from a ton of stress all at once poses a particularly different issue with respect to strength training. That is NOT to say that you can’t train, but HOW you train is incredibly important.
Consider this article from Mark Sisson. We’re talking about the fight or flight response, and a heightened state of survival that can trigger a SHIT TON of cortisol in your body. Cortisol is your number one stress hormone, and while it may save you from immediate danger should you need to protect yourself, repeatedly triggering your stress response leads to a SHIT TON of hormonal deregulation, and this can dramatically effect your ability to lift. For the purpose of today’s post, I’m going to keep things simple and give you a go-to way to check in on just how stressed you are by tracking three separate numbers: blood pressure, resting heart rate, and your oxygen levels.
Heart Rate, Blood Pressure, and O2 Levels: How Heavy is Your Chest?
The following photos are my morning stats that I take daily to check in with my sports cardiologist. I am still tracking these numbers religiously after a blood pressure spike back in August landed me in the hospital. You can read more about that here.
morning oxygen levels! PERFECT!
First a word on your heart rate. Normal resting heart rates average between 60-90 beats per minute. I clock in now around the low to mid 70’s upon waking up. Seasoned athletes (or where I was in my prime) can have resting heart rates lower than 60 and be perfectly fine. The problem is when you start to see your resting heart rate climb into the 90’s and above. This is a tell tell sign of there being too much stress in your life, and for more on that discussion please click this link.
Your blood pressure is another sign. Here’s a chart to track your numbers.
Again, blood pressure readings that start to creep high on this chart are indicative of an overall stress on the body, and that can be psychosocial stress as well as the stress of drinking too much, smoking too much, not getting enough sleep, using drugs, and a poor diet (pretty sure I covered everything there). Since we are talking about overcoming a stressful life vent, check out this link for the link between repeated stressful events, anxiety and how that effects your body.
Last up! Are you getting enough air? A tell tell sign that you may be under too much life stress is a high resting heart rate and a low reading on your O2 meter. Normally, oxygen levels can fluctuate between 95-100 percent, but below that is a cause for concern. Here’s a comprehensive list for what may affect your oxygen levels.
So. . what’s this got to do with my strength training? Training Post Trauma
Programming your lifting routine after a stressful event poses a few issues, and that has to do with the overall volume of your lifting routine. To refer back to the discussion above, I recommend that you actually track your resting heart rate, O2 levels and blood pressure for a solid two weeks before jumping back into a lifting routine or starting up in general if you have recently gone through a lot of psychological stress. Track your numbers and be sure that you are at a normal level across the charts. If not, I recommend getting a physical to rule out other problems by a local heath practitioner or your PCP.
If your’e set and ready to go on all fronts, GREAT! But be mindful, and SLOW IT THE HELL DOWN when it comes to jumping into a fitness routine. I am a minimalist at heart, and having gone through a more recent event myself, I have had to scale back my own training and keep things simple. This week is my first week back on training, and I have shaved off my usual 5 day routines to 3 days at no more than 30 minutes a day. Here’s a solid article as to WHY I have chose to do this, and I hope it helps you too! I have also backed off some additional sprints and barbell work and focussed on my basic kettlebell movements such as presses, squats and swings. Keep your movement simple, and keep the weight you are bearing light-medium with respect to your own personal strength. Ladies, I recommend grabbing a 10-16kg to restore your strength level, and dudes, start around 16-24kgs to get back into the kettlebell swing of things.
As for how I am currently stacking my workouts, here’s an easy recommended kettlebell training session to combat stress and get your strength back.
Part 1: Goblet Squats and Presses
5 reps x 3 sets of Goblet Squats
5 Presses Right and Left Sides x 3 sets
Part Two: Two Handed Kettlebell Swings
10 swings every minute on the minute for 10 minutes.
This routine should take you no longer than 20 minutes to complete from start to finish. Allow yourself a 10 minute cool down at the end!
Ready for more?
THE BLOG IS CHANGING! WE ARE BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN RECOVERY AND STRENGTH!
If you have further questions regarding kettlebell training or whole food nutrition, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to catch my facebook live casts at 8:00 pm EST Monday through Thursday and stay tuned! I am working on my online platforms as we speak, so if you’re familiar with our VIP program, get ready for a whole new level of training programs that will be coming to you live in June! I am compiling ALL of my experiences with strength training, nutrition, and recovery topics to help YOU become the strongest, most EMPOWERED version of yourself! Keep following the blog!
That’s it for todays post! Much love and respect to you all!
Let NOTHING stand in your way!