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Last week, I posted a story on Instagram about suffering from post-training anxiety, and I was overwhelmed with the number of responses from lifters who experience the same or similar feelings. Hopefully you don’t feel unsettled after training, but regardless, you might find the advice in this article helpful, so read on!
First, let me be clear: anxiety is a serious mental condition, and if anxiety causes problems in your daily life, I strongly suggest that you see the correct medical health professional. But the type of post-training anxiety I’m talking about is, I think, a little different: it’s not a perpetual state of mind, but rather a pretty predictable sensation that follows the comedown from the endorphin high from lifting heavy sh*t.
It’s obviously not a comfortable sensation. Personally, I feel overstimulated — my mind races, and my body wants to move, but I’m so physically exhausted (from lifting heavy sh*t) that all I can do is sit there and feel miserable. It’s a little like being stuck in traffic after taking a double dose of pre-workout! Of course, everyone experiences anxiety differently.
The question, of course, is what to do about it.
Crowd Sourcing Post-Training Anxiety Solutions
Author’s Note: Before diving in, I want to reiterate my suggestion that if you suffer from anxiety that interferes with your daily life, then you should see the correct medical health professional. While these tips might help the occasional post-training anxiety — and I hope they do! — they’re not intended as any sort of medical advice.
With the disclaimers out of the way, let’s go to the list!
1. Cut Back On the Stimulants
This one should be obvious, but a big dose of stimulants — like what’s found in most popular pre-workouts nowadays — is a great recipe for feeling miserable once the energy starts to fade. I’ve written quite a bit before about how pre-workouts can be a double-edged sword, especially for powerlifting, but there are probably times when your training will benefit so much from stimulants that you decide it’s worth the risk.
In those times, I highly recommend that you avoid any unfamiliar ingredients, in case you react especially poorly to them. Stick with good old caffeine, and you’ll be just fine.
2. Eat Something!
There’s a good chance that after a heavy training session, some of your uncomfortable mental feelings are caused by physical discomfort — like hunger. Now, for most lifters, this isn’t a problem, because the time following your workout is ideal for fueling your muscles by rehydrating and replenishing glycogen with a low-fat, high-carb meal. The insulin spike triggered by those carbs might make you sleepy, which can also help to take the edge off.
If you’re dieting, it’s a different story, of course. In that case, be sure to check out my tips about staying strong while leaning out and do your best to time your caloric intake around your training to minimize any hunger while your body is already exhausted.
3. Calming Supplements Could Be Useful
Now, I can’t contribute a whole lot of information on this one. I can, however, refer you to some excellent references already available here on BarBend:
- Is Kratom a Performance-Enhancing Drug?
- Marijuana and Lifting Weights: What the Science Suggests
- CBD Oil Removed from WADA’s Prohibited List (includes potential benefits of CBD)
4. Try Doing Some Light Cardio
I’ve already explained how low-intensity cardio can be beneficial for powerlifters, but I didn’t mention its potential as a tool in the fight against anxiety. Even just going for a gentle stroll after training can give your body and mind the opportunity to cool down, calm down, and return to “normal.”
The one big cardio caveat here: don’t overdo it. Your body is already depleted after lifting, and going too hard on the cardio can potentially undermine your progress or even worsen your anxiety.
5. Get Creative
The important thing to remember (as always) is that everyone is different, and you need to find what works for you. If none of these suggestions do the trick, you might need to get creative with it! In fact, I received a ton of creative suggestions, so let me share a few that caught my eye:
- Sit in the car for 5-10 minutes after training and listen to music.
- Spend some time in the shower or sauna.
- Get lost in a good book, TV show, or video game.
- Go to sleep!
In general, it’s probably going to come down to one of two things: either finding a way to resolve the feeling through relaxation (physical and mental), or finding a way to distract yourself until the feeling fades by itself.
Do you get post-training anxiety? How do you cope? Share your suggestions in the comments below.
Feature image from @phdeadlift Instagram page, photo by @kyle_wurzel.