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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

David Behrmann

Recent Posts by David Behrmann:

The Role of Hormones in Resistance Training

GettyImages-625739874Hormones have an especially important role in dealing with resistance training. The endocrine system is a collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, sleep, and mood. Some of these hormones are anabolic, which promote tissue building, and others are catabolic, which are used to degrade/break down cell protein. Ideally for muscle building, it is important to produce anabolic hormones while limiting the production of catabolic ones.

Anabolic and Catabolic Hormones

Scientists have identified examples of anabolic hormones in the human body. These examples include insulin, IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor), testosterone, and growth hormone. On the other hand, the catabolic hormones are cortisol, catecholamines, and progesterone. For our purposes, we can focus on two of these hormones: testosterone and cortisol.

Testosterone

Testosterone is the primary androgen hormone. The way to promote testosterone is short rest periods, 30 to 60 seconds, heavy resistance—85 to 95 percent 1RM (large motor units), and chronic resistance training (2+ years). Further, testosterone has a known effect on the nervous system: it increases neurotransmitters, and it acts on every tissue in the body. Men have 15 to 20 times more testosterone than women, and acute, or sudden, increases following workouts are small.

Cortisol

Cortisol, on the other hand, converts amino acids into carbs and breaks down proteins and inhibits the synthesis of proteins, which is bad if you are trying to build muscle because proteins are the building blocks for muscle. Cortisol increases during exercise with high volume/short muscle rest, causing large serum cortisol. This does more damage to the muscle and is not good for muscle recovery. Chronically high cortisol levels have adverse catabolic effects.

Knowing that your body produces both testosterone and cortisol, the difficulty lies in the ability to produce more testosterone than cortisol to see muscle growth.

Ways to Promote Lower Cortisol Levels

Here are four ways to lower your cortisol levels so that you can build muscle:

  • Utilize proper rest times during high-intensity resistance workouts.
  • Eat enough protein and carbohydrates to help you through the resistance workout.
  • Perform resistance workouts when your body’s cortisol levels are lower, typically later in the day.
  • Make sure you are getting enough sleep.

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Make sure you are paying attention to your hormones during resistance exercise. If you are not careful, hormones might be affecting your gains in a negative way instead of a positive way. As you can see from this information, these are just a few areas you can target to start producing testosterone and therefore, affect the tissues within your body. Hopefully, this information gives you a better understanding of the main two types of hormones, anabolic and catabolic, how they work in your body, and ways to achieve those gains you are looking for in your resistance training.

Source: Haff, G., & Triplett, T. (2016). Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (4th ed.). Human Kinetics.

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This blog was written by David Behrmann, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor.To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here

Topics: muscle building hormones resistance training

Improving Cardio-respiratory Endurance for Athletes

GettyImages-636342222Improving maximal aerobic capacity, aka VO2Max, as well as lactic threshold can have a huge impact on overall performance. You can improve VO2 max through long slow distance (LSD) training, pace and tempo training, interval training, high-intensity interval training, and fartlek training.

Training by Experience Level

Training to improve your aerobic capacity varies according to your experience level:

  • If you are just starting to train to be an endurance athlete, I suggest that you stick with a long slow distance training until you build your aerobic base, which would be more for mileage/time rather than overloading your lactic threshold and VO2 max.
  • If you are an intermediate endurance athlete, you should add one hard workout day (pace or tempo interval, high-intensity interval, or a fartlek) and a higher-mileage day than your usual LSD mileage.
  • If you are an advanced endurance athlete, train one or two days with the pace and tempo interval training, high-intensity interval training, or fartlek training. You should also have a high-mileage day that is higher than your LSD days.

Training by Goals

Keep in mind, all this training is also dependent on your training goal. For instance, if you are training for cycling, a full marathon, a cross-country or track event, or are a casual aerobic athlete, long-distance rower or swimmer, and so on, you will want to make sure to have a plan with your goals in mind. Be sure to implement these training methods into your program so that you can hit your goals.

Aerobic capacity and lactic threshold training modules can be tailored to your individual goals and training program. Here are some examples and how they can apply to your training.

  • Long slow distance (LSD): Should be race distance or longer and 70 percent of VO2 max, give or take.
  • Pace and tempo: Should be done in durations of 20 to 30 minutes at lactate threshold or slightly above.
  • Interval training: Should be done 3 to 5 minutes with a work-to-rest ratio of 1:1, and it should be close to VO2 max.
  • High-intensity interval training: Should be 30 to 90 seconds with a work-to-rest ratio of 1:5 and greater than VO2 max.
  • Fartlek: Has a duration of 20 to 60 minutes and varies between LSD and pace and tempo training intensities.

Keep in mind, some of these norms and training intensities are meant for aerobic distance athletes and are specific to how the training should be done.

Overall, I highly encourage you to play around with these training philosophies and develop it into an aerobic endurance program that is best suited for you. It’s easy to just go out and do the aerobic activity day in and day out, but if you have a more organized, structured program, you will not feel overwhelmed and you will see the gains in your aerobic performance that you have been looking for all along.

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This blog was written by David Behrmann, NIFS Health Fitness Instructor. To learn more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: endurance aerobic HIIT vo2 max workout programs fartlek training goals