Slowed or stopped muscle growth can be caused by many reasons. A man reason why your muscle may end up in a catabolic versus an anabolic state is a hormone called cortisol.  Cortisol is a stress hormone that is produced when you are under stress or under stressful situations.


Mental stress, emotional stress, and physical stress can cause an increase in the production of cortisol.  Those wishing to build a lean muscular body must learn how to control this hormone and that can be stressful in itself.



Weightlifting and exercise place a lot of stress on the body.  This stress can cause cortisol in your body to rise which can destroy muscle tissue.  It can also affect your bone density and causes weight gain, especially in the abdominal area.

Does it ever seem like your abdominal fat just won’t go away?

Unfortunately, this hormone doesn’t like muscle tissue and would rather have you gain more fat.  But it does have some positive functions.

Your adrenal cortex in responsible for producing cortisol, which is commonly known as the stress hormone and rises quickly when you are under stress.  But this hormone also plays an important role in the function of your metabolism.  It actually facilitates cardio function the metabolism of carbohydrates, and inflammation control.  Funny enough it is also considered a steroid.

The more cortisol that is produced the more your muscle tissue breaks down.  This causes an increase to your amino acids pool which is converted into glucose to be used as energy.  Cortisol also interferes with protein synthesis which prevents new muscle from being produced.


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Try doing this to lower your cortisol levels:


  • Sleep more– The more sleep you get the more your body will recover from the stress of the day. It allows your body to rebuild from the wears and tears of the day. Not getting enough sleep puts more stress on your body which will increase your cortisol levels.


  • Try to avoid stress – There are several ways to reduce your stress levels throughout your day. Performing Yoga, reading a book, or taking a break from what you’re doing can do wonders. Another great trick is to learn meditation and breathing techniques which have been known to reduce stress. Sometimes taking a break from your training for a week or so can help bring you out of over training which will help lower your cortisol.  As you learn to relax your cortisol levels will eventually come down and stay down.


  • Over training will kill your gains – One of the most common reasons for someone’s increase in cortisol levels is that they work out too intensely without taking rest days. This very common among young athletes and bodybuilders. Truth is each and every workout you are damaging your muscles when pushing heavy weight or performing intense exercises.  Without taking a recovery day you are allowing the cortisol levels to remain high which is robbing your muscles of the much needed proteins they need to grow.

Clearing your mind and body of stress is key to having healthy cortisol levels.  Once they are in check you will see your muscles growing faster than you’ve ever noticed before.  This doesn’t mean that you can do other counterproductive things to derail your progress.

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