Coach your Athletes to Harness Stress

Harness Stress at your Box

Soloman Madrin, the owner and head Coach of West Metro CrossFit in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, defines stress as anything that puts added pressure on the body. And he recognizes this can be emotional, mental or physical stress.

Regardless of the type of pressure, however, Madrin says an athlete must maintain a balance of stress to recovery, meaning however stressed an athlete is, they need an equal amount of recovery, to experience progress.

Regardless of the type of pressure, Madrin also realizes it can cause various injuries in the Box. “The ways that we see stress affect negatively — in that scale being out of balance, is we see a lot of fatigue. We see deterioration in lifting form, especially in an athlete that doesn’t typically have poor form,” Mardin said. “We’ll see overtraining, things like little minor injuries starting to happen and maybe even up to things that become more chronic.”

Chronic injuries being insomnia, workout anorexia and, in extreme cases, rhabdo.

While he agrees with Madrin about the negative affects of stress, Alexis Alvarez, Level 1 CrossFit Coach at CrossFit 915 in El Paso, Texas, said anyone, not even just athletes, needs some level of stress as a form of stimulation, or motivation.

Alvarez said it’s how a person responds to that stress that determines whether or not it’s harmful to an individual and harmful to a workout. And there’s no “one size fits all” remedy to dealing with stress.

Seeing his athletes almost everyday, and not being a certified therapist, Alvarez said he tries to coach his athletes in controlling that stress into his or her workout. “If you harness stress in a positive way, if you visualize whatever in your life is in your way or becoming an obstacle to you or is just frustrating, in your head you’re visualizing that obstacle coming down, it helps,” said Alvarez. “It’s kind of like a mental trick in your mind.”

If a client is suffering from an emotional stress, Madrin said he has seen people do really well from working it out. “I think, depending on the person, bringing your mental stress to the gym could be very soothing and very relieving,” Madrin said. “It just depends on what works best for you to relieve that mental stress. But, it’s the exact same balance. How much stress am I undergoing? And how much recovery do I need from it? So the basic stress adaption cycle applies across the board.”

Madrin begins the conversation about stress with his clients in the foundations course, specifically on Day 4 when he’s coaching gymnastics. “You’ll hear me quoted in the gym a lot, that my goal isn’t to prove to you in a month how fit I can get you. My goal is to prove to you that our program, if you stick to for the long-term, will make you more fit than you have ever imagined you can be in your life.” Madrin said.

And balance is not a one-time conversation at West Metro CrossFit. Madrin said it’s something that he and his staff bring up regularly at the end of classes or one-on-one educational conversations with clients if he sees an athlete working out too hard.

“We wouldn’t want you to throw on headphones, go lift too much weight and just try to work out it because you’re so frustrated or mad and get yourself hurt. But that’s where the Coach comes in. That’s our job: to moderate athletes,” Madrin said.

Hayli Goode is the former digital editor for Peake Media.