Sleep, Stress and Training

Sleep, Stress and Training

The Athlete’s Secret Weapon

By Coach Matt Russ

Athletes are always looking for an edge. This may come in the form of a new supplement, gadget, piece of equipment, or training methodology. Many of these are of negligible or no value to performance enhancement. But the most effective ergogenic aid is actually readily available and free; it is sleep.

First and foremost remember this; you are weaker after a work out. Your body has been broken down and it will take some time to repair itself. You will only benefit from the work out if this process is not upset or delayed. Your body releases a slew of hormones as you sleep, and one of the most important for recovery is Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This wonder hormone produced by the pituitary gland repairs muscles and connective tissue, making them stronger and able to handle an even greater training stress load. It helps rejuvenate organs and bones as well. After a good nights sleep you wake up refreshed physically and mentally; ready to resume the training process. Name a supplement that can safely accomplish that!

Adapt and Overcome

We are creatures of routine and we like to follow plans and programs, but this can work against us. One of the first things I tell my athletes is that their plan will need to be adapted throughout the season. Adapting an athlete’s plan is as important as designing a great training plan. The pros can train, eat, sleep, and repeat. For the rest of us training is not our job; it is in addition to our job. It is easy to upset the training process and we have to realize family and work responsibilities come first. There may be certain key work outs throughout your training week. If you need to increase rest and recovery, you can minimize lost training time by performing these work outs over other less critical ones. Don’t feel you must follow the letter of your plan no matter what. A good coach will understand this as well. Don’t stack missed work outs on the week end either. This type of overreaching leaves you exhausted and burned out going into your next training week.

Read more about training volume, sleep, and stress in the full article.

About the author:

Matt Russ has coached and trained elite athletes from around the country and internationally for over ten years. He currently holds expert licenses from USA Triathlon, USA Cycling (Elite), and is a licensed USA Track and Field Coach. Matt is head coach and owner of The Sport Factory, and works with athletes of all levels full time. He is a free lance author and his articles are regularly featured in a variety of magazines such as Inside Triathlon, and Triathlete. for more information or email him

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