This is what a work out looks from a hormone’s point of view. The above chart (that I so eloquently put together with the help of my friends, the stick people) shows the two main hormones that are released during physical activity: Cortisol (a stress hormone) and Testosterone (a steroid hormone). In a time of stress (because that’s what exercise essentially is), the body releases Cortisol to handle the new energy demands, and at the same time (since the body is so efficient), it releases Testosterone so the physical activity can become easier (through time, and from strength and repetition).
Let’s take a closer look at the time of the physical activity and the hormone levels. Riiight around the 30-45 minute mark Testosterone hits a wall and drops dramatically while Cortisol keeps making its way to the sky if the workout continues. The key is to maximize that Testosterone boost by minimizing your time under stress.
Keep physical activity to a maximum of 45 minutes. If you can get it done in a much shorter time, then please, please, please do that. When it comes to exercise, LESS IS MORE. Reap the benefits of the hormone boost by keeping your work outs short, to the point, and then sit your butt down, eat some good clean food, and sleep like a baby. It is so very easy to overtrain the body, especially for all of you runners out there long-distancing your way to stress heaven. But, even the Meatheads can take weights to a new level by going from one station to the next to the next because they have the “extra energy.”
Always leave the gym (or an exercise) with energy. Leave some in the tank so your body can actually function like a normal human body and not one that resembles a 90 year old man walking down a flight of stairs.
Keep in mind your other stress levels when exercising. Life is full of stress and the last thing you need is more stress, i.e. a hard, grueling work out. There’s work stress, school stress, family stress, relationship stress, financial stress, diet stress, water stress, sleep stress, toxin stress, and need I say more? There’s a time and a place for exercise, and there is also the right prescription of exercise to fit your needs (not wants!).
Eat enough calories. Your body uses 85% of your daily caloric intake just to keep the lights on! If you’re cutting calories, then you’ll be storing fat and burning muscle because that’s how the body survives in a calorie-deficient-SOS-survival mode. You may be losing weight, but remember that muscle weights more than fat.
Rest harder than you exercised. Sleeping is extremely crucial for an exercise program (*cough* stress program *cough*) to “work.” It is the only time your body can rest, recover, and rebuild using the day’s food supply. Take enough rest days and get enough sleep. Not enough Z’s will make any daily activity effort a waste of T.