How Does Work/Personal Stress Affect Your Performance in the Gym?

Hey, guys, I am new to the forums so forgive me if I did not post this in the correct category.

So, as the title suggests I have a question about how stress affects your performance. For the past 2 weeks I have been studying and really stressed for my exam finals, and so I’ve been getting really bad sleep for the past week or so. Added to this I’ve also had some issues in my personal life (relations etc). To try and cope with this I’ve taken a whole week of this last week, and the week before that I was deloading. (I know may seem excessive but my schedule was crazy).

Anyway, this weekend I finally had time to lift. Now, I have always come back with the same strength (sometimes stronger) after my deloads. I did a relatively heavy upper-body session, but did really badly. On bench, I got 3 reps at an RPE of 9, for a weight I could usually get for 5 reps 8 RPE. I was supposed to do 5 sets of those, but totally failed on the 5th. Following that Shoulder press also felt heavy. I usually get 3x12 of 120lbs but I went 10 10 9 that workout. Triceps seemed fine though. Monday was deadlifts, and that felt heavier than normal as well. Obviously I didn’t try my 1RM but started =of with some 5x5 (usually do them after deloads). They felt heavier than ever and acutally had to drop the weight by like 50 lb just to get my 5x5. I went to do some biceps after that, but like triceps those were okay.

So, my question is, could my longer than normal deload, and all the added stress with work/life and poor sleep for the past week have thrown me off so badly? And is my body gonna get back to where it was before all this happened after a few workouts or did I actually lose some strength? The night before both workouts I slept great, and ate great the night before and on the day, so sleep/rest/nutrition isn’t the issue, and my weight is pretty much the same.

For reference I’m a fairly expereinced lifter of 5 years, focused primarily on strength and I am 18. Thanks in advance guys and please ask me if I missed out any info, and I’de really like to hear any of your experiences with similar situations.

In my experience, personal stress affects gym performance negatively if that affects your sleep. I feel like I am reasonably good at blocking out the outside world once I show up to lift . But if I’m sleep deprived it will take its toll.


Stress, lack of sleep, and being worn out from a heavy work load all have a big effect on my training. It’ll hit your strength and power through poor recovery, and the fatigue will affect your CNS drive to complete a lift. At times of high stress or workload I’d be much weaker in the gym.

Same for me. I find as long as I sleep and eat well I will perform just as well. Unfortunately, when stressed I often sleep less and lose my appetite.

Does your strength return once the stress levels, workload etc, decrease?

Ya, it’s temporary for me. Once I get recovered again I’m back to normal. I always stress out about it at the time though!

It depends on the kind of stress. If I’m angry about something, I can lift more than usual. If I’m worried about something, weight lifting can distract me from it, but if I’m too worried about something, I can lose focus and even forget how many reps I was doing during the set. I can lose one night of sleep and it won’t effect my workout, but if I have two bad nights my workout will suffer.

Lack of sleep affects my lifting if it’s more then a day in a row. Most of my DL and bench prs are done on 4-5 hours sleep. If I don’t get enough sleep I suck it up and train and don’t deload, then sleep ok the night after.

As for the stress, I put it into lifting. 10x calmer after lifting.

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Yea anger definitely helps me out. However, it’s the kind of stress that’s associated with worry, so I guess that is my strength is down.

I’m sorry to be the one to tell you this… You will never get those gains back. Having 2 weeks in a row of little to no lifting is detrimental to strength gainz. Prioritise your gainz over any/everything in your life otherwise you will never succeed.

Good luck trying though!