CUMULATIVE STRESS THEORY AND THE BUCKET ANALOGY: OPTIMISING YOUR PERFORMANCE
Imagine your health, energy and performance is a bucket. Optimising this is largely dictated by two factors — stress and recovery. Even though recovery adds to your bucket and stress takes away from your bucket; stress through working hard in the gym, and stress from school work and family responsibilities is valuable as it challenges your body to progress.
Finding the right balance between these two variables is key to optimising your body’s function. Keeping your body/bucket at its optimum level required a back and forth between the outgoing stress and incoming recovery.
Too much stress without enough recovery will cause the level of your bucket to go down; decreasing its performance, increasing chance of burnout and increasing risk of injury. On the opposite side of the scale: not enough stress (in the form of training, challenges, life tasks) will prevent you from adapting and progressing.
For example, you might be functioning optimally right now with 9 hours sleep per night, and 3 gym sessions per week. Over the next month, your school work may increase, which will result in you getting 8 hours of sleep per night. This may be enough to cause less input, resulting in your bucket emptying. Following this result, you may decide to go from training 2 times per week to 5 times per week, without the extra input from recovery. It’s safe to say that you won’t be able to improve your fitness in that time to be able to handle training 5 times per week. You will, instead, need to be more thoughtful towards your recovery, and focus on progressively increasing stress as opposed to immediately increasing it tenfold. It’s better to gradually increase stress to avoid burnout and injury, while also avoiding a massive decrease in performance and ability.
Sources and recommended reading
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Harry Weatherstone is the founder of the Youth Athletic Development Academy and the head Strength and Conditioning Coach at St. Andrew’s Anglican College. He is an ASCA accredited Strength and Conditioning Coach and has a Bachelors Degree in Sport and Exercise Science and Sport Management. Harry has been a sports coach for the last nine years, surrounding himself in high performance sport, athletic development and performance throughout New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and now Queensland. He has dedicated the last six years of his life to creating this movement in youth athletic development; investing countless hours into his own professional development to create the best programs possible for his students, athletes and clients.