When you consider all of the things that are involved in living a fitness lifestyle — the training, the diet, etc. — there are many, many facets that are involved.
Everything from the way you work out, to the timing of the foods you eat, to how many hours of sleep you get, and so much more can all affect the kinds of gains you make. However, something that falls short on a lot of individuals are the very hormones that are involved in your body, and the way they can help (or hinder) your progress.
You may already be familiar with testosterone, and how it can help increase protein synthesis, which can lead to further development of lean muscle mass.
Conversely, the hormone cortisol is catabolic, in that it essentially breaks down tissue. It literally reduces protein synthesis and the growth of tissue.
The control of your cortisol levels really can play a large role in your development of muscle. While there isn’t a lot you can do in the way of completely shutting out this hormone (nor would you want to), you can take measures into your hands by adhering to a few basic ideas.
- Keep your workouts under an hour or so! For weight training, around 45-60 minutes, and 10–15 minutes for abs. Cortisol is a stress-released hormone, and after about 60 minutes of exercise, it is released. This brings us to the next point:
- Avoid stressful situations! When we say cortisol is a stress-released hormone, that means physically and mentally. Learn how to relax and not get wound up over the little things like misplacing your water bottle. It’ll save you a lot of anxiety, and bring you more gains!
- Nail your nutrition! As you know, what you eat determines how you look. And like we mentioned earlier, even the timing of when you eat can make a difference. You are in a catabolic state when you wake up (which is why eating breakfast is so important), and post-workout. Getting these meals in immediately will keep cortisol at bay.
- Get a little help from both vitamin C and glutamine. Both have been shown to reduce cortisol levels!
- Sleep sound! As you should know, you only grow while at rest — stage 4 sleep is where your growth hormone is spiked, and cortisol is low. (Remember our first article ever?)
Have any of these points been lagging from your daily routine? All of them are very important to ensuring continual success in your fitness journey. What’s the hardest one for you to stick to? Comment down below and let us know!
As always, don’t forget to visit marcfitt.com for all your health, fitness and lifestyle needs!