T Nation

Best Program for High Stress Times?

Out of all of Coach’s programs, would be the best, body composition oriented, for an insanely stressed female whose cortisol levels are through the roof amidst this global pandemic?

Strength training: 2-3 whole body workouts per week on monday-wednesday-friday with emphasis on low volume (2-3 worksets per exercise, 4-6 exercises, last 2 exercises should be more isolation oriented otherwise just do 4 compound exercises). Focus on methods that stimulate muscle fiber fatigue or lactic acid/growth factor production --> slower eccentrics with bodyweight, iso holds, higher reps with longer time under tension. Do keep the rest intervals fairly long though (60-120 seconds). Last thing you want to do is take short rests when you’re stressed. This will only increase cortisol output and make recovery and body comp harder to achieve. Keep workouts between 45-60 minutes total. You can do 10 min steady state cardio as warmup and cool down that’s fine. If you like, you can do steady state 20-30 minutes 2x/week on non training days as well to unwind. It really helps with stress. Walking 10 minutes 3-4x per day or one long walk (1-2 hours) works very good as well. If you have a physical or active job you can totally skip cardio because your NEAT will already be high enough. I would still recommend morning, noon or evening walks to help you relax and walk the stress off.

Diet: Don’t starve yourself or do intermittent fasting. This is not a good approach if you’re under a lot of stress. Use a caloric deficit of max 500 kcals below maintenance, have frequent carb feedings (small portions with every meal, especially around the workout), you can use intra-workout carbs like highly branched cyclic dextrins. Keep protein intake moderate but adequate around 1.6 g/kg of bodyweight and have some healthy fats for proper hormone production and other important physiological functions. Definitely consume carbs before bed to support proper sleep (which is very important for body comp and recovery) and go to bed before 11 pm.

Supplements: you might find it useful to use glycine (3-5 grams post-workout) and magnesiumbisglycinate (250 mg post-workout) or magnesiumtaurate (250 mg PW) to bring cortisol and adrenaline back down. I would even recommend taking magnesium (120-250 mg) 3 to 4 times spread over the day. This will really help you deal with stress better. Glycine is dead cheap btw and really effective.

I’m not familiar with CT’s programs but perhaps someone can point you to the right one based on these recommendations?

Best of luck!