Cortisol is a steroid hormone belonging to the glucocorticoid class of hormones. It is released by the adrenal glands in response to stress and low concentration of glucose in the blood. However, when released in excessive amounts it decreases muscle mass and aids in increasing body fat deposits, which is the exact opposite of what bodybuilders are trying to achieve.
In this article, we will go over the top 6 strategies you can implement so that you can protect your hard-earned muscle mass during intense bodybuilding training periods.
This is often easier said than done however you should strive to decrease your stress levels in every aspect of your life. Useful strategies include planning things ahead of time and organizing your time as best as possible. When you plan ahead things tend to run more smoothly and do not frighten you of the potential negative outcomes.
Emotional stress stimulates the adrenal glands to start releasing cortisol which makes your bodybuilding goals much harder to achieve. This means that learning how to control your stress levels is of the utmost importance.
Limit your weight training sessions to one hour
After an hour has passed of intense training with weight your testosterone levels will begin to plummet and your cortisol level will start rising. That’s not a good combo. In order to get your workout done in one hour or less, you should be focused and keep moving from one exercise to another. This is no time for socializing and you can always have a chat with fellow gym friends before or after you’ve finished your workout.
Do not go overboard with cardio
Countless people do hours and hours of cardio and hardly anyone gets any visible results from it. It’s as if anything they eat magically turns into fat. The reason this happens is because doing too much cardio or aerobic exercises increase your cortisol levels and as was previously mentioned, cortisol eats the muscle mass away and increases body fat deposits.
Sleep at least 8 hours every night
Current research has shown that in our for the majority of us to function properly, we need 8 hours and 15 minutes of uninterrupted sleep. However, given our modern fast way of living, this is almost never the case. A good recommendation would be to try to sleep at least 7 hours each night and then make up for the lost sleep either by napping during the day or during the weekend.
Not getting enough sleep will increase cortisol production greatly, which stops your bodybuilding progress dead in its tracks. This is why getting a good night sleep should be your top priority.
Get your vitamin C
Various studies have shown that taking vitamin C has greatly decreased the circulating cortisol found during and after finishing endurance training or while under a stressful situation like public speaking. Other studies, however, did not find that training requires taking more vitamin C. Either way it wouldn’t hurt to get some into your diet.
Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in muscle cells. Research has produced evidence that it can decrease cortisol’s catabolic effects and can preserve the muscle mass that cortisol destroys. It is still not proven for sure how big of an effect glutamine has. Some bodybuilders take glutamine as a supplement to make sure it is available to their muscle cells before, during and after your exercise.
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It is important to note that teenage bodybuilders don’t have to use this supplement but it won’t harm them if they do. Considering the optimal hormonal environment teens have, they should spend their money on some basic nutrition supplements.