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Understanding the stress response


Understanding the stress response


Fight or Flight

We are all equipped with a built in self preservation system. This “safety” system is called  the fight or flight response (also known as the acute stress response). It is a physiological reaction that occurs in the presence of something that is terrifying, either mentally or physically. Some of the physical signs that may indicate that the fight-or-flight response has kicked in include:

  • Increased Blood flow and Heart rate
  • Increased breathing
  • Tunnel vision
  • Increased perspiration
  • trembling or shaking


At some point we are all going to trigger this response when our life depends on it. But what about when it is triggered on the way to a goal? For example when you hit a training plateau are you going to fight through or are you going to take off to do something else? Or when you reach a sticking point in your weight loss are you going to stay the course or are you going to give up?

As a Coach the most common thing I hear is “How can I do (XYZ) better?” or  “I’ve done this and this and it’s gotten me to a certain point, but now these things are not helping me anymore.” Whether its weight loss, mobility, lifting or gymnastics they all have different answers but generally the information given is typically attached to a “fight”. I say fight because this is usually when you know how important this goal is to you.

On average I usually prescribe a new, technique to focus on in a particular movement; new or different mobility drill; a stricter nutrition program; or my personal favorite, a new perspective for mental preparation prior to working out. When an athlete receives there new prescription, it’s something that is going to be outside their comfort zone, and typically they don’t like it. The problem is that for things to change you have to change and it is going to be a fight.

Like I’ve said before there are no magical cures or quick fixes (or healthy ones) to get you to where you want to go.  If you really want it, then it is up to you to obtain it. Our job as coaches is to help you achieve your goals by shorting your learning curve. We have done it the long way so that you can avoid the mistakes we made. However, we have not found a way to do the work for you. You are the only thing standing in your way. You have to fight for what you want and fight the urge to take flight.

Coach J-