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How to Gain Muscle

Adjusting Your Hormones Naturally

Itís well known that to gain muscle you need to follow a proper training and nutrition program. Without these two pieces of the puzzle you will never get the results you want. But if two people follow the exact same training and nutrition plan, there will be some differences in the results they achieve. This can be attributed to a variety of factors, but the factor we are going to look at today is hormone levels.

Two hormones of primary interest to those wondering how to gain muscle are cortisol and testosterone. These two hormones have opposing functions in the body. Testosterone is known as an anabolic hormone. This means that it builds up the body. Cortisol, on the other hand, is known as a catabolic hormone. This means that it breaks down the body.

One of the best measures of someoneís ability to gain muscle is the testosterone to cortisol ratio. This gives a good picture of how much tissue is being broken down and how much is being built up. In general, high testosterone levels and low cortisol levels are good for muscle building.

It should be noted that muscle breakdown is the key stimulus for muscle growth, so cortisol should actually be high at some times of the day. Furthermore, cortisol helps us to feel more energetic, so we definitely need some cortisol to have productive training sessions. The point here is that we want optimal levels of cortisol, we donít want to eliminate it altogether.

I wonít get any further into the scientific background of hormones, but suffice it to say that they are very important to gain muscle at the fastest rate possible. So letís look at some simple tips that you can begin applying today to optimize your hormone levels.

1. Cholesterol
Cholesterol has been given a bad rap in the media as the enemy of health. But if you look at the chemical structures of testosterone and cholesterol there is really very little difference between the two. So it should come as no surprise that testosterone is made in the body from cholesterol. The bottom line is that if you donít give your body the raw materials (cholesterol) it needs to make testosterone then you wonít have optimal levels for muscle building.

2. Sleep Schedule
Going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day (even weekends) has a number of positive benefits for muscle building. But one of the main benefits is its normalizing effect on cortisol levels. You see, cortisol levels should be the highest in the morning. But when you go to sleep and wake up at all different times your cortisol levels get thrown out of whack. This can lead to chronically high levels of cortisol which can make it hard to gain muscle, not to mention the negative health consequences.

3. Body fat
Not only is excess body fat unhealthy, but it can also wreak havoc on your hormones. Body fat raises cortisol and estrogen (the female hormone). High levels of these two hormones create a poor environment for muscle building. Not to mention side effects like heart disease, Type II diabetes, and man boobs. This is one of the main reasons I recommend you lose fat before building muscle.

4. Activity Schedule
Cortisol is also released in response to high-intensity exercise. If youíre exercising late in the evening you will have two big jumps in cortisol every day (when you first wake up and in response to your workout), instead of just one. So if you can shift your workout to morning or early afternoon it will be much better for your muscle building efforts, as well as your health. However, if the evening is the only time you can get a workout then itís much better than skipping it entirely!

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