When you miss a few days at the gym do you try to ‘make up for it’ with a few marathon sessions? While the intentions are good – the results – are actually bad.
My workouts never last longer than one hour. Over one hour workouts increase cortisol production & ultimately slow protein synthesis, aka. muscle mass production.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol, sometimes called the “stress hormone” is essential to body maintenance, however it can negatively impact your life by reducing protein synthesis – the production of lean muscle mass.
Three functions of cortisol are:
- Halting tissue growth & bone formation in preparation of the use of current muscle mass:
When stressed, all your body knows is fight or flight.
It’s purely a matter of survival. All growth & repair will be slowed as every emphasis is placed on survival in that stressful moment.
If you’re under prolonged bouts of stress, which stimulates production of cortisol, (everyone you know is currently in this state most of the time) then health & vitality no longer are the focal point of your bodily systems – survival is.
Get enough energy (glucose – think sugary foods & quick energy sources like chocolate, bagels & energy drinks) so that you’re ready to respond to the danger at hand.
Everything else is second to survival. Even though you are not actually under physical attack or in immediate danger of losing your life your body is under the impression that you are!
- Metabolise protein, fat & carbohydrate as sources of energy:
Cortisol will blunt the production & function of Insulin so that all energy that enters your system is instantly available to your muscles so that you can punch & kick or run your way out of danger rather than being able to store that energy.
This might sound like a good thing? It is – for a short period of time, but it is most definitely a bad thing if your system predominantly functions in this way.
Triglycerides (fat) will be mobilised & over time visceral fat will build up around your abdomen – think fat flabby belly.
Protein will be burnt for energy if stress levels warrant it. Don’t have enough glucose (sugar) floating around your bloodstream? Burn whatever you do have to keep the limbs moving & the heart pumping fast.
If you’re not alive then there is no point having stored energy or a rippling six-pack!
- Inhibits Immune Response:
This happens to prevent your body from creating inflammation.
In the most part inflammation is a protective response. Swell an area to inhibit movement & flush that area with blood & immune cells.
It’s natural & supports healing.
However in the stressed moment – think most of the time these days what with constant artificial light, unhealthy processed food & a lacking exercise habit – all your body is trying to do is survive.
Inflammation would slow you down & increase your chances of getting caught or not being able to fight your way out of this dangerous moment.
However, when you slow down for a moment you start to realise the moment may not be quite as dangerous as your body is interpreting it right now.
Cortisol is considered to be catabolic as it produces the opposite effects of testosterone – it breaks down tissue instead of building it up.
Cortisol/Testosterone balance is an important factor if you’re aiming for optimal health & performance. More about this in another article.
Why no more than an hour?
Just think of the old adage: ‘too much of a good thing’. There is a point when working out goes from making improvements to your body to stressing & straining it.
Working out longer than an hour can result in some or all of the following:
- Muscle loss
- Lower Testosterone levels
- Weakened Immunity
- Greater chance of injury
- Little to no muscle gain or fat loss
- Overall poor health
The Bottom Line…
Keep your workouts between forty-five & sixty minutes long
Concise & effective workouts save you time & harbor greater results
While you may be ambitious, remember that consistency is key & results will come when you have a clear smart plan & stick to it.
The more Testosterone you have the easier you will find it to increase muscle tone. Cortisol can suppress Testosterone.
In another article I’ll talk more about Cortisol/Testosterone balance… stay tuned. Until then…
To Your Best Health
ShapeTrainer Daniel Grant
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