Cortisol and cardio

Cortisol is a hormone of “stress or fear”. It is produced by the adrenal glands at the moment when a person feels threatened or feels the most powerful emotional and physical stress.

This hormone usually converts fats into fatty acids and then into glucose, which is an energy source. The human body needs energy constantly, and in a situation of stress, its amount is required twice as much.

It can have quite a negative effect on the muscles. The higher its level, the more difficult it is for a person to build muscle mass and gain strength.

In fact, cortisol in the elderly is the main factor in the decline of strength.

The production of this hormone is necessary for the normal functioning of a person, but its excess can harm your achievements for the following reasons:

– increases in cortisol increases muscle catabolism.

This is due to the breakdown of tissues with the release of amino acids, which can then be converted into glucose for energy production. This is called gluconeogenesis, and it is one of the main functions of cortisol. This function is necessary to increase energy at the right moments.

– cortisol can suppress the immune system.

In turn, it is the immune system that restores damaged muscles. Because of this, in fact, growth and recovery are slowing down.

– the growth of myostatin always goes next to the growth of cortisol.

Myostatin determines how much muscle mass you can gain. If your goal is to gain weight, then I have bad news.

During cardio trainings, cortisol is produced. But this does not mean that it is necessary to completely abandon cardio in fear of increasing the stress hormone. It is only necessary to highlight the moments when cortisol rises more strongly, and in which cases it is weaker. And use it!

Three facts about cortisol released during exercise.

1. It mobilizes energy. It will release glycogen, fatty acids and break down muscles to provide nourishment for muscle contractions. The more nourishment you need, the more cortisol you will release.

Most often, the goal of cardio is to burn fat. Of course, in this case you need to get the body to mobilize not too much fuel. Too much release will negate the benefits of fat loss.

2. It releases adrenaline. The larger the volume of your cardio workout, the more cortisol is released, which means more adrenaline and a higher level of intensity.

3. It helps to maintain blood sugar levels. Cortisol and glucagon restore sugar when it drops. This is important because if you exercise on an empty stomach (when sugar is low), you will increase cortisol levels to a greater extent.

From all this, we can conclude that the cortisol level gives a feeling of energy. This is not a bad thing in the short term, however, if you do it for too long, or stay in this state for a long time, it will do you harm.

So, the three pillars of increasing cortisol levels:

1. Exercise on an empty stomach.

2. High volume.

3. Maximum intensity.

This leads to the worst types of cardio training for athletes.

1. Interval training on an empty stomach.

An easy 40-minute walk in the morning on an empty stomach is very good. But intensive interval training on an empty stomach is not for us.

In the case of a walk, you also release cortisol, but quite a bit, because the intensity is low.

In the second case, there are problems. Firstly, you are hungry (the first element stimulating cortisol), and you are very tense (the second element stimulating cortisol). Of course, you will have a large calorie consumption, but the risk of increased cortisol is several times higher.

2. Long intervals of high intensity.

Intervals of 20 minutes or more – in this case, you combine high intensity with long duration. And these, as you remember, are two cortisol growth factors.

3. Moderate intensive cardio on an empty stomach.

Let’s go back to morning training again. If you run for 45-90 minutes, you are also putting your muscles at risk. Here you have a large calorie consumption (much higher than when walking), and starvation. These are two factors that increase cortisol.

In this example, I meant jogging, but cycling and other types of cardio will do.

4. Intensive cardio after a workout with weights.

Such work is great for burning fat, reducing the risk of metabolic disorders, and even slows down aging. But there is also a delay in muscle growth.

Do only the exercises that you like, and here’s why

 

Many coaches promote such an approach to training that it is necessary to do those exercises that are difficult, both physically and emotionally. The body resists for a reason, it is in these exercises that we will work out problem areas, it is through pain and “I don’t want” that people succeed, etc.

At one time I believed that it was true. I did the barbell pull in a tilt, although I never liked it. Yes, the exercise is effective, but I have never liked it, and I always tried to do it at the end of the workout.

As a result… There was no result. No, of course, the working weights have increased a little. But no more than that.

I didn’t make much progress on any exercise that I didn’t like to do, but I did it anyway.

As a result, I realized that all this is complete nonsense. It’s probably the same in all spheres of life – if we don’t like something, then we won’t progress in it. Or rather, to progress the way we would like it to.

And it seems that one of the latest studies of this subject only confirms the validity of this truth.

The team of scientists recruited 32 athletes, each of whom could squat at least 1.75 times their weight and press 1.3 times their own weight from the chest.

All of them had to maintain a daily protein allowance of at least 1.5 grams per kilogram of their weight.

The groups were divided into two, and each had to go through a complex training program for 9 weeks. They trained three days a week and performed six different exercises per workout. Rest between sets ranged from 90 to 120 seconds.

Their training was divided into three mesocycles:

1. 4 approaches to the exercise.

2. 5 approaches to the exercise.

3. 6 approaches to a complex exercise and

5 approaches for additional.

The training system itself was undulating. The first training day was easy, the second – average, and the third, as usual, heavy.

Each training session was supervised by certified strength and physical training specialists.

In one group everyone was told to perform a set of six fixed exercises.

The second group could decide which exercises from the list to perform. They were given such a list, and they decided for themselves how to train each muscle group.

What results did they come to?

Athletes who did the exercises forcibly, strictly from the list given to them, gained 0.98 kg of extra weight. In turn, athletes who chose their own exercises gained 1.6 kg of extra weight.

That is, it turns out that athletes who chose their favorite exercises themselves scored 60% more than athletes with programmed workouts.

In addition, athletes with freedom of choice have made more progress in the strength of the bench press. The other group’s strength in this exercise remained at the same level.

It is difficult to say whether there were physiological or psychological differences between the groups. Naturally, from a psychological point of view, you will perform the exercises that you like with great joy and zeal.

On the other hand, the physiological side can also play a role. If you are an experienced athlete, you know exactly which exercises will have a better effect on your height and strength, and you will choose them.

Regardless of the reason, this study may make you think twice when you decide to integrate an unloved exercise into your workouts.

Leg press: useful, useless or harmful?

 

Leg press can be performed correctly and incorrectly. This is not just dropping and pushing back the weight, but something more complex. Here are a few rules that will help you perform this exercise correctly, and therefore avoid injury and increase leg strength.

1. Choose an active range of movements.

The active range is the one in which you make the movement.

The active range in the leg press is selected according to the following criteria:

– glutes do not come off the seat;

– the lumbar spine is not rounded.

These criteria are very important under heavy loads. Your spine does not approve of such rounding: it is simply not designed for it. Your vertebrae receive a huge amount of tension with torque. In the end, this will lead to a hernia at best.

2. Choose the weight that suits you.

Stop flattering your ego by loading the platform with a ton of weights. A short range will not give you anything, and a sharp push of the platform with the whole body is likely to cause injury.

In fact, your mini-amplitude bench press will create a very small internal load. A full-fledged bench press with an average weight will bring many times more benefits.

3. Do not bend your knees completely.

The knee joints are designed to lock while being straightened. But this does not mean that they should be blocked with a load of 500 kg.

When you fully extend your legs, your quadriceps are in a slightly relaxed state. And it is here that the entire load of 500 kg falls on the joints and connective tissue. After all, all this tension and weight distribution has to go somewhere!

You need a slightly bent knee. Leave some margin – let your muscles, not joints, take the load!

So, we have analyzed the active range of movements in which your spine does not suffer, the quadriceps get a serious load, and at each end point of the repetition you do not bend your knees to the end.

So why you need to do leg press?

Here are the points where this exercise can really help:

1. The initial start of the deadlift.

If you have a weak breakdown of the barbell from the floor, then the leg press can really help. The main thing is to make sure that you use the same leg position as when pulling. Just don’t forget to take a little pause when you bend your knees!

2. Development of hamstrings and buttocks.

This exercise is a favorite for these muscles. Place your feet as high and wide as possible on the platform. Also take a small pause, bending your knees – so your buttocks and biceps of the thigh will get the maximum load in an elongated position.

3. Isolate the quadriceps.

If you put your feet on the platform very low and very close to each other, then your quadriceps will get very good insulation, because this position allows you to bend your knees much more.

That’s a useful exercise if you do it wisely. Be honest with yourself, use a healthy range of movements, and you will constantly receive results from the leg press.

Belly fat. Causes and how to get rid of it

Belly fat can be caused by various factors such as hereditary predisposition, eating disorders and a low-activity lifestyle, the presence of bad habits, hormonal disorders, diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, oncology.

Before joining the fight to get rid of the belly fat, you should undergo a full medical examination to exclude the presence of dangerous diseases, the symptom of which may be a large belly.

Here is a list of causes of the belly fat. 

Of course, the main reason is the problem of excess weight and, as a consequence, the appearance of fat deposits in the waist and abdomen. Thus, in order to get rid of it, it is necessary to lose weight.

However, a large belly may not always be the cause of excess weight. Experts distinguish the following types of bellies that do not appear due to overeating:

1. “Stress belly” is characteristic of people who are in a state of chronic stress, sleep little, eat irregularly and incorrectly, drink a lot of coffee, abuse energy drinks, love chips, soda, crackers. This type of belly differs in that it is not loose and dense, and fat is concentrated around the navel.

In this case, in order to regain a beautiful belly shape, it is necessary to normalize your psycho-emotional state, change your diet, change your work and rest regime. Exclude from the diet junk foods, caffeine and energy, intense physical activity, which contribute to the production of the hormone cortisol, which promotes abdominal growth.

The place of cardio training should focus on low-intensity training, yoga, Pilates, callanetics. Include foods containing high levels of magnesium in your diet, such as dark green vegetables, nuts, dark chocolate, fish, dried fruits, etc. Meditation techniques, relaxing baths before going to bed using various supplements, breathing exercises are effective in combating stress.

2. “Lifeline”, this type of belly is characterized by the fact that fat deposits are collected on the sides in the form of a roller, it is characteristic of “couch” people, who also like to skip another glass.

To get rid of such a belly, it is worth giving up alcohol, sweet and flour. Preference should be given to lean meat, oily fish, nuts, avocados, eggs. It is worth doing sports, in this case, long-term aerobic training of low intensity (at least 1 hour), such as running, cycling, swimming, will be effective. It is best to do sports in the fresh air.

3. “Low belly”, characteristic of people who have a bulging lower abdomen. This may be a consequence of curvature of the spine, incorrectly selected physical exercises, or improper exercise techniques, poor nutritional diet.

You need to drink more fluids, expand your diet, include more fiber-containing foods in it, change the training system, give preference to circular physical exercises. Consult a specialist for posture correction.

4. “Pregnant belly”, characteristic of both women and men with poorly developed pelvic muscles. Nuts, olives, fish oil should be added to the diet. To reduce the abdomen, the exercise “stomach vacuum” will be effective, as well as performing Kegel exercises.

5. “Swollen belly” in the morning, flat in the afternoon, and swollen in the evening. This type of stomach is typical for people with digestive problems, intestinal microflora disorders, food intolerance to certain foods. To correct this type of belly, it is worth reviewing your diet, determining which foods are not suitable for you and exclude them, enrich your menu with fish, fresh vegetables. Exclude flour, alcohol, processed dairy products, grapes, products containing a large number of carcinogens. It is recommended to have a hearty breakfast and give preference to a light dinner.

6. “Hormonal belly”, most often it is characteristic of those over 40. It develops due to the fact that after this age, people begin to change the hormonal background, metabolism slows down. In order to get rid of such a belly, you need to reconsider your diet, it should have such a ratio of nutrients: 20% protein, 30% fat, 50% healthy carbohydrates, you need to drink enough water, try to be less nervous, sleep well and lead an active lifestyle. In order to get rid of the belly, it is necessary to activate the hormones responsible for fat burning. To do this, you need to eat foods with a high magnesium content and perform interval training of increased intensity.

If you are struggling to get rid of the belly fat. You have tried many things and almost despaired.
Join my training and nutrition program, which I will make specifically for your body type and lifestyle.

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Leg muscles training. Where to start?

Leg muscles training on a separate day is one of the main rules of a training program.

The legs are the largest group of muscles in the body, including not only the calves, gluteal muscles and thighs, but also many small muscles.

Building a sports physique is impossible without a full and purposeful leg muscles training. Exercises with a barbell and dumbbells develop both muscle strength and improve a sense of balance – which has positive affect on your posture.

 

Start your leg muscles training with the basic rules.

    1. Correctly choose exercises. The priority of training the leg muscles will be basic exercises. They will help to build muscle mass. All basic exercises, due to their complexity, not only involve more muscles at once, but also produce somatropin, the so-called growth hormone. It has an anabolic effect on our body, reducing the breakdown of protein and enhances its synthesis.
    2. The progression of loads. In order to avoid stagnation in muscle growth, we will need to constantly add working weight. Let it be 1 kg, but the progression should be constant.
    3. Warm-up at the beginning of the workout. This is a very important component in the training process. A warm-up will help prepare muscles for hard work.
    4. Stretching at the end of the workout. Remember – stretching is done only at the end of the workout! But why? Because during stretching, the muscle relaxes, which contributes to its speedy recovery and minimizes muscle pain the next day after training. And also, it stretches the muscle fibers that remain in a bound state after hard work on the legs in the gym. If we stretch at the beginning, we will relax the muscles and they are unlikely to be able to work out to the maximum.
    5. Periodization of loads. That is, alternating workouts, for fast and slow muscle fibers. What is the difference between them? Fast muscle fibers are white and designed for hard work, but they get tired quickly. Therefore, they are trained with large weights and a small number of repetitions from 1 to 5.Slow muscle fibers are red. On the contrary, they are designed for long work, but with much less weight. We will train them for a large number of repetitions with a light weight for 15-20 repetitions.

       

 

Hope, that this information will help you start training your leg muscles and avoid injures.