In a very stereotype way, when most people think of hormones, they think of women and emotions.
And sometimes, these two concepts are linked. But both men and women have hormones that course through their bodies, and what most people don’t realise is that these hormones can often affect your workout. How? Read on!
Quite simply, hormones are a combination of chemicals released by the body that cause specific responses.
These reactions can be varied to include building more muscle (anabolic hormones), breaking down muscle (catabolic hormones), and even helping the body to uptake blood sugar after a meal.
In men, testosterone is the most well-known hormone and is responsible for helping lifters put on more muscle, and recover faster. Other hormones in men, like growth hormone, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), and hCG, play a big role in recovery and seeing large jumps in size and strength. On the other opposite end of the spectrum, too much stress in everyday activities can cause a large release of catabolic hormones (like cortisol) which breakdown muscle and make it tough to build the physique you want.
Women tend to have more hormones at play in their body, including oestrogen and progesterone. While most women tend to feel like a workout is the last thing they feel like doing during their period, the hormones released during this time can actually boost pain tolerance and muscle recovery. At the beginning of a woman’s cycle, oestrogen and progesterone levels peak, and although this may mean a woman is more likely to be emotional and weepy, it also means women are more sluggish and tired. Women are also less tolerant of heat, because elevated progesterone delays your sweat response, causing your body to take longer to expel excess warmth.
As oestrogen and progesterone levels dip towards a woman’s period, she’s more likely to feel more powerful and help with recovery during training. Additionally, exercise helps to regulate your oestrogen levels by increasing lean muscle mass, which increases metabolism, which then helps to burn more fat and reduce fat mass.
Hormones may seem like an odd thing to consider when exercise, but it can in fact help or hinder your workout so it can be a good thing to keep in mind.