I have been doing weight lifting and body weight training for 1.5 years. I had to stop for a whole month (last month) due to overload of work.

Even though exercising feels good when you do it, and releases the good hormones and raises adrenaline, I noticed that during the month when I stopped I became calmer when confronted with external irritation (like a fight or anything that triggers adrenaline).

However, I restarted training a week ago (like 6 days a week) and doing a balanced yet strict diet, and I feel over-energetic to the point where if something triggers my self defense system, I would quickly and more easily irritated than when I had stopped training.

Is it because of the levels of testosterone that increase when training? Do you get more aggressive when you train constantly?

  • Blood sugar and thyroid issues are bandied about as possible causes in this similar Crossfit board thread. Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 18:23
  • @DaveLiepmann i don't have thyroid issues, i did a blood/glands test and it was perfect. My blood sugar on the test was good 0.83g/L (normal is between 0.7 - 1.1). But maybe its low blood sugar post workout, because i am loosing fat in my diet and so the only sugar i get is from fruits (3-4 fruits a day) and the normal sugar found in all food. I don't eat sweets of any kind
    – ccot
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 18:33
  • Are you eating any carbs after your workout, like sweet potatoes or a shake? Are the fruits eaten through the day or after the workout? Losing weight and working out 6 days a week sans carbs would sure make me irritable. Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 18:44
  • @DaveLiepmann yeah of course.Post workout i eat either whole wheat bread /whole wheat pasta/ whole grain oat , i eat a lot of fibre and before i sleep i usually cut 1 banana/1apple/ 1 cup of blue-berry and 1 oz almonds, and have it with milk (for casein to take effect when sleeping)
    – ccot
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 18:49
  • This is getting beyond my expertise, or at least into another question, but I would consider the possibility that your irritability is from undereating and overtraining. Can't say with any confidence. Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 19:52

1 Answer 1


It sounds like your recovery is suffering. I highly recommend reading Practical Programming for Strength Training by Dr. Kilgore and Mark Rippetoe. The information on energy systems, stress and recovery is very useful to help understand what is going on. So first some high points:

  • A calorie deficit alone (diet) is enough to cause many people to be irritable. Combined with a heavy work load, it's a sure fire way to get people not to like you.
  • You can get a lot of mileage out of 3 full body workouts a week with adequate rest in between.
  • With heavy stress and inadequate recovery, cortisone levels rise, which is released from the adrenal glands (fight or flight). This may be a big contributor to what is going on.

I also am a software developer, and with proper planning you can alleviate some of the stress on the job. The trick is to get out of firefighter mode (always putting out fires), and be more proactive. If you aren't the one in charge of the schedule and negotiating with the client, that can be more difficult but not impossible.

Testosterone is an anabolic hormone, which means it is responsible for building up your system. It triggers growth hormone and insulin like growth hormone 1, which both are necessary to construct and rebuild muscle tissue. Cortisone is catabolic, which means it is responsible for tearing down dead tissue and making room for the anabolic processes to do their job.

The problem comes when the catabolic hormones are in higher proportion to the anabolic hormones. This can be due to over-training, inadequate recovery, or just general stress (cortisone is the stress hormone). When your body is in a state of predominant catabolism you can lose strength, become more irritable, and eventually have the symptoms of clinical depression.

Correcting a state of over-training is relatively simple. Essentially, you stop doing the activities that are pushing you over the edge. If you are facing motivation issues getting into the gym, take a break for a bit. If not, do some lower intensity work, and rehab related work. Focus on more recovery and less stress.

  • Going too strict on a diet with a high work load is counter-productive. Find the right balance to help you lose weight, but still give you enough energy. Perhaps time your meals so you have the energy when you need it.
  • Reduce the work load. I highly recommend at least looking at Wendler's 5-3-1 program for ideas. That's a 4 day a week program (but flexible enough to make it a 2-day or 3-day a week program) where you focus on a primary lift and add some assistance work, conditioning, and mobility. You can customize it to emphasize hypertrophy, strength, conditioning, or mobility--but all four components are still there.
  • Try to keep your training sessions under 1.5 hours, with the ideal threshold less than 1 hour. When you use compound lifts like the overhead press, deadlift, bench press, and squat, you have the biggest testosterone response and helps the body remain more anabolic than catabolic.
  • Thx for your reply. There is some stress at work, but i think mostly over-training is the problem,catabolic hormones are higher. Though my diet is very balanced (by strict i meant calorie and quality wise) . I think the problem is a high calorie deficit, since i reached the last phase of my fat burn (which is the hardest due to plateau) so i am eating around 1800 calories and am a tall strongly built person (192cm and muscled, though have some fat remaining). What do you do when you reach the last fat burn phase? when increasing training or lowering calorie both become issues?
    – ccot
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 15:27
  • Look into LeanGains or something similar. You don't have to do the intermittent fasting part, although that does accelerate things a bit. However, carb and calorie cycling (both parts of the protocol) are proven workers. If you are within 15% body fat (flat stomach, no definition), then you can use the "Recomp" protocol. +20% on training days, -20% on rest days--training 3 days a week. Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 16:16

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.