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Stress causing muscle loss

Q. Hi,

I am Aniruddha, and I am becoming very thin. Earlier I had a good physique. But after some mental stress, irregular diet timing, and too much of work pressure I have lost weight. I am 25 yrs old software developer. My weight is 58kg. Besides the muscle size, my energy levels are also going down. Please give me tips and exercise and diet plan to recover my health.


A. Hi Aniruddha,

The first thing you need to do is remove stress from your life, as much as you can. I know it is much easier said than done, especially if it personal or work related stress, but it is important, not just for muscle building purposes, but also for overall health and longetivity. So for the next 4-8 weeks your goal must be to remove excess stress and build healthy habits that keep stress under control. You need to do this even before you think of gaining muscle.

For starters make sure that you get 7 hours of deep sleep every night. If need be then do some deep breathing and meditation just before going to sleep to improve the quality. Also make sure that you get up at a time when you do not have to rush out of bed, and then rush to work. You should have enough time to do 5-15 minutes of some joint mobility work or some Surya Namaskars, to get your body ready for the day ahead, and also have a good breakfast. A good breakfast would consist of some protein and fat sources like whole eggs, nuts, and some carbs like oatmeal, whole wheat bread, some fruit like banana or an apple. 

I am assuming that you are a pretty busy person throughout the day, and thus eating every 2-3 hours will definitely not be possible for you on a daily basis. Thus I would suggest that you stick to the good old fashioned 3 meals a day pattern. So for lunch and dinner, again mix some good carbs, healthy fats and lean protein sources, and stay away from junk and empty calories. You can choose from the list of foods in this article-

Now coming to the workout, at this stage the last thing you should do is to train intensely too often every week. In a stressed state your body is already in a catabolic mode (thus the muscle loss) and training too often will only lead to further muscle and strength loss rather than improvement. So do weight training on no more than 3 days a week for now, and stick to whole body low volume training for best results. Here is a sample workout that you can do:


Bench press- 3 sets of 5-7 reps
1 arm dumbbell rows- 3 sets of 8 reps
Barbell lunges- 3 sets of 8 reps
Finish with 1-2 sets of high repetition bodyweight pull ups


Squats- 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Military press- 3 sets of 5-7 reps
Barbell rows- 3 sets of 8 reps
Finish with 1-2 sets of high repetition dips


Deadlifts- 3 sets of 3-5 reps
Incline dumbbell press- 3 sets of 6-8 reps
Weighted pull ups- 3 sets of 6-10 reps

Once you start finding your strength and are relatively stress free, you can do some more higher volume training. But for now moderation is much better!

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