Life can be stressful. Whether it is finances, relationships or your occupation, we tend to allow ourselves to succumb to the pressures associated with everyday life.
For many people, those pressures then lead to unmanageable stress.
Some are able to deal with it easily by doing whatever makes them happy and others need professional help at times to get through it. Exercise-induced stress is a completely different type of stress experienced when you work out – it’s a good kind of stress.
However, with the good comes the bad and what I mean when I say that is when you train intensely and for an extended duration of time, the stress you put on your body does not go unnoticed. Your body’s reaction to physical stress is to release a hormone called cortisol to combat what you are doing. Cortisol is the body’s main anti-stress hormone; however, a little cortisol is needed to maintain a certain level of equilibrium. That being said, it is also a bodybuilder’s worst nightmare as too much coritsol can break down hard-earned muscle tissue and turn you into a soft, chubby weakling.
Is there something that we can do to avoid this evil hormone?
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands that is released in response to stress put upon the body. Like I mentioned earlier, cortisol is the body’s main anti-stress hormone and helps to equalize stress levels and keep them from soaring. It is also responsible in metabolizing fats, carbs and proteins, helping blood sugar levels rise through gluconeogenisis.
So far, it doesn’t sound so bad, but to a bodybuilder, it’s something you want to limit as much as possible. Why? Because cortisol is highly catabolic and causes muscle wasting and fat gain. Bodybuilders, or any athlete for that matter, need to be aware of this so they can prevent or at least limit the negative effects of cortisol on their muscle-building goals.
What Factors Contribute to the Rise in Cortisol?
Stress is really the main ingredient for cortisol levels to rise. Also, it has been found that people who carry more body fat tend to produce higher levels of cortisol. You might be wondering if any type of stress can cause an increase in cortisol and the answer is yes. However, for the purposes of this article I’m going to just focus on exercise-induced stress.
Now before I get into it, there is a catch 22 here. In the intro, I mentioned that pressures from everyday life cause stress and people do what makes them happy to ease the stress. That may include working out. If you think about it, you are trying to get away from stress by adding more stress to your body. You wouldn’t think it would work, but it does and it’s because of the release of endorphins your body gets from training that makes you feel better, but that’s a whole other article.
Back to the point, training hard and pushing yourself to the limit causes cortisol levels to rise. Even cardio bumps up cortisol levels. Really, anything you do in the gym is going to elevate cortisol to some degree. The harder and longer you train, the more cortisol you produce. People who finally decide they are overtraining come to that conclusion because of the noticeable build-up of cortisol, resulting in a decline in muscle growth and an increase in fat accumulation.
What Are the Effects of Cortsol?
Other than aiding in metabolism and increasing blood sugar levels when needed, there are really no positives to cortisol when it comes to bodybuilding. The negatives are clear: muscle loss and fat gain – the polar opposite of every bodybuilder’s goal.
What Can you Do to Keep Corisol Levels Low?
- Plain and simple: pay attention!
- Pay attention to your body
- Pay attention to how your workouts are going
- Pay attention to how you are functioning in everyday life chores
- Pay attention to your energy levels
If you answered yes to one or more of the above, chances are your cortisol levels are too high and you are stressed in some capacity and need time to rest. Take an extra off day, take a week off or back off on the intensity. Your body is telling you it’s tired and tired of all the stress you have put it through and it needs a break. So take one! It’s not the end of the world, you won’t lose any muscle. If you keep doing what you are doing, then you will lose muscle and you definitely don’t want that. Also, keep that high protein and moderate carb and healthy fats diet going, as nutrition plays an important role in rest and recuperation.
Managing Cortisol with ALLMAX
Keep using ISOFLEX or ALLWHEY, use your CREMAGNAVOL, keep supplementing with GLUTAMINE. Also, don’t forget your multi-vitamin VITASTACK. You need all the help you can get to recover and rid your body of that nasty cortisol hormone. One product designed specifically to control spikes in cortisol levels is TestoFX LOADED.
TestoFX LOADED contains CORTISTRATE-II™, an anti-cortisol agent. As cortisol increases, testosterone decreases. CORTISTRATE-II™ primes a pro-testosterone environment by reducing cortisol levels by 32% over 24 hours. Patented technology, combined with gold standard research shows remarkable decreases in cortisol, but also dramatic increases in serum DHEA of up to 32%!
In summary, train hard, relieve yourself of your daily stress by hitting the gym often, and take the necessary rest your muscles need to grow and repair. Managing cortisol to increase muscle gains should be in the forefront of your mind. Use your knowledge of rest and recuperation, nutrition and supplementation to further enhance your gains and distance yourself from the negative effects cortisol can have on your muscle-building efforts.
- Budgett R, “Fatigue and underperformance in athletes: the overtraining syndrome”; British Journal of Sports Medicine; 1998; 32; pgs. 107-110.
- Volek, Jeff S, “Influence of Nutrition on responses to resistance training”; Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise; April 2004, volume 36, issue 4-pp.689-696