Hard work doesn't always pay off.
I hate to be the one to inform you with this news, but it had to be said.
Because a determined mindset is just part of the equation. Athletic success also isn’t just about how many hours you spend in the gym.
The other denominator for the formula of athletic superiority is hormone management.
More specifically, managing hormones like cortisol and testosterone are unequivocally essential to becoming a great athlete. To shoot straight with you, if your hormones are in a continual state of imbalance, the pursuit of athletic dominance will remain out of reach.
The following paragraphs lay out why hormone regulation is a requisite for athletes. If you find yourself stressed out by my opening claim, keep reading. It should stabilize your hormones back into a harmonious state.
Cortisol plays an instrumental position in the body’s delicate orchestra of hormones.
Known for initiating the feeling of stress and anxiety, we can literally feel the increase of cortisol when we are facing a challenging situation that launches us into fight or flight mode.
However, we cannot always detect elevated cortisol like we do when we are in a threatening situation.
Oftentimes, especially in athletes, cortisol elevates and plateaus at a higher than optimal level that we cannot distinguish based on feelings of stress. Truthfully, higher than optimal is putting it gently.
The effects of raised cortisol for extended periods has devastating effects on health and fitness.
To understand the significance of cortisol in sports performance, we must first grasp the importance of other hormones like testosterone, IGF-1, and growth hormone.
We have all heard that these hormones help contribute to athletic performance, but the significance of these hormones is underemphasized.
These hormones do not just “help” potentiate an athlete’s strength. Testosterone and its companions such as IGF-1 and growth hormone are the principal regulators in directing strength development.
If these hormones are somehow inhibited from doing their part of instituting muscle growth and repair, athletes will not feel nor see the growth they have been working for. These hormones are the backbone regenerative fuel for building a dominant athlete.
After you’ve completed a challenging workout, cortisol rises for a short period due to the fact that you placed significant stress on your body. This endocrine response is actually necessary for coordinating hormone homeostasis.
After cortisol lowers, testosterone and growth hormone manifest to simultaneously repair damaged muscle and build new muscle through protein synthesis.
However, cortisol becomes a mischief-maker when it does not lower back into its resting state, given that testosterone and growth hormone secretion is prevented when cortisol is elevated.
If cortisol is continually raised, testosterone and growth hormone cannot do their jobs, which will inevitably turn off the fitness gain-train.
Recovery and growth with heightened cortisol is like walking into a Louis Vuitton store with a sole twenty dollar bill expecting to buy a new outfit. It’s an unrealistic expectation.
The cortisol factor in athlete development is paramount. The damaging effects of raised cortisol are best managed through training with intelligence. This means knowing when to go hard and when to press the brakes on your ambition.
It also means prioritizing quality sleep because cortisol has a circadian rhythm and naturally lowers at night, allowing testosterone to run its course while you’re sleeping.
Nutrition’s role is also essential for allowing testosterone production to soar.
Eating minimally processed, whole foods rich in micronutrients and omitting vegetable oils are crucial if you want to feel and look like a Spartacus.
Certain nutritional supplements have also been shown to compose cortisol while enhancing testosterone.
By all means, hard work should not be discouraged.
To the contrary, it should be the forefront phrase when training. Just remember that hard work is only as effective as your hormones are balanced.