What Is The Link Between Testosterone And Cortisol?
If you are trying to build your muscles to the maximum, you need to make sure that your body is firing on all cylinders, and that includes your hormone production.
The release of hormones at the right times and at optimum levels is a key factor in certain physiological adaptations that can include increase in testosterone levels and the development and growth of our muscles.
One hormone that has a massive effect on our testosterone production is Cortisol.
This article looks at Cortisol, I explain what it is, how it effects testosterone, and how to reduce its effects.
Table Of Contents
- 1 What Is The Link Between Testosterone And Cortisol?
- 1.1 What Is Cortisol
- 1.2 Anabolic hormones include:
- 1.3 Catabolic Hormones Include
- 1.4 The Cortisol And Testosterone Link
- 1.5 The Effects Of Stress On Testosterone
- 1.6 5 Ways To Reduce Cortisol
- 1.7 To Sum Up
- 1.8 Increasing Testosterone Levels Even Further
What Is Cortisol
The human body is controlled and regulated by tries of hormonal systems.. act one working ion synergy with the pier to maintain a a state of balance – this process is known as homeostatis.
When a particular hormone wants to pull in a certain direction, another must ease off to allow it.
With muscle mass, our hormones can be split into two groups, those that are Catabolic (they break down muscle) and Anabolic – those who help the muscles to increase in size.
For the sake of muscle building, we need to maximise the effect of the Anabolic hormones.
Anabolic hormones include:
- Growth Hormone
The greater the levels of anabolic hormones, the greater the levels of protein synthesis and the better our body is at building muscle.
Catabolic Hormones Include
When these hormones are present in large amounts, our body goes into a catabolic states and muscle protein synthesis decreases, reducing muscle mass.
The key is to keep Anabolic hormones at optimum levels and reduce catabolic hormones as much as possible.
One key study concluded that Testosterone is largely responsible for the maintaining of anabolism by boosting protein synthesis, as a direct opposite cortisol has a catabolic function caused by the bodies response to stress.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone released by the adrenal gland. It is part of a group of hormones that are formed by cholesterol, known as glucocorticoids.
“Cortisol is your bodies stress hormone, its released during periods of tension, stress or anxiety. As its production increases, the body naturally reduces testosterone levels to maintain homeostasis ( hormonal balance)”
The Cortisol And Testosterone Link
Testosterone and Cortisol are very much the opposite of each other – When taking about muscle building, think about Testosterone being the accelerator and Cortisol the brake. They most definitely have a antagonistic relationship without any doubt.
Testosterone helps us to build muscle, reduce body fat and maintain our sex drive. Too much cortisol does the opposite, it reduces muscle mass, (known as gluconeogenesis) encourages the development of body fat and lowers our sexual responses and libido.
The majority of all our bodily processes follow a circadian rhythm. Cortisol and testosterone both increases and decrease over a 24 hour period. Testosterone is highest throughout the night and reduces through the day, Cortisol is generally at its lowest at night, it peaks when we are and then gradually decreases through the day.
“High levels of Cortisol can reduce muscle mass, increases body fat, reduce immunes system and lower sex drive”
The Effects Of Stress On Testosterone
Our body cannot really differentiate between different stresses – certainly from a hormonal point of view, it doesn’t matter if we are caught up in a bank robbery or simply sitting on an exercise bike in the gym worrying about the bills that you cannot pay. From the hormonal point of view the effects of stress is the same.
The ‘fight or flight’ response kicks in, we get increased heart rate, the blood flow to our legs in particular increases so we can run away or fight.
Part of the process also includes our body breaking down stored energy in readiness for the fighting or running. When this happens, we generally either run away, fight the cause of the stress or sadly die trying.
Whatever happens, in most cases of stress, after a short period of time the bodies reaction to the stress reduces and ultimately switches off and we then become relaxed again.
If our worries persist, out stress responses never actually die down fully – constantly breaking down stored energy is bad for us. With prolonged stress, our cortisol levels just increase and stay elevated which is exceptionally bad for our testosterone production.
5 Ways To Reduce Cortisol
The more you are in a stressful state, the worse the effect on your muscle building goals. To help you manage your cortisol and other catabolic hormones, here are 5 tips that you can use.
(1) Get Some Rest
If you are hard at it in the gym every day, you are probably overtraining, this can bring on stress and increase cortisol release. Training is pretty stressful for your body, it needs time to recuperate and regenerate. If you repeatedly overtrain, your body will have greater levels of cortisol and reduced anabolic levels.
(2) Sleep More
The body is controlled by the circadian rhythm… the sleep-wake cycles ensures that cortisol is kept to a minimum. studies show us that if you are deprived of sleep or fatigued in anyway, your cortisol levels will increase.
Another aspect of being deprived of sleep (getting 4 hrs of sleep or less) is the additional release of leptin – a hormone that stimulates appetite which can mean over eating and ultimately weight gain.
(3) Lift Heavier Weights
Strength training is none for its ability to boost testosterone release and keep cortisol low. Use compound lifts like deadlifts, squats and presses for best results.
(4) Hit The Gym In The Morning
Working out in the morning, not only frees you up for the rest of the day. it also helps boost testosterone levels at a time when cortisol is naturally at its peak. performing high intensity exercise is proven to be on of the most effective way of boosting testosterone – a fact demonstrated in clinical trials.
(5) Cut Out The Cardio
Long periods of slow steady cardio is not really the way to go… Turn to High intensity (HIIT) sessions instead, it boosts metabolic rate, boosting testosterone and reduces fat levels.
To Sum Up
The link between testosterone and Cortisol is not a good one to have. One promotes muscle building and fat loss, the other does the complete opposite.
By reducing the effects of Cortisol, as example, by following these tips we can help increase our testosterone levels overtake cortisol and help reduce its detrimental effects.
Increasing Testosterone Levels Even Further
Following a good exercise regime, getting enough rest and eating well will go a long way to stabilising and increasing testosterone levels. You can take things even further by using a good natural T-Booster.
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