How To Control Cortisol To Keep Muscles (Part 1)

cortisol hormone organ body

Cortisol. It’s a weird name that I hear rarely. One time, in the gym, a guy told me to be careful about it. When I asked him what is it, he told me: “It’s the stress”. Follow this logic, we stress every day, it means each day we lose a little bit of muscle? It makes no sense. The first time I tried to learn about it, I didn’t understand anything. Cortisol is a hormone and you have to learn some medical things. I didn’t like this situation, because I wanted to know how to control cortisol to keep muscles.

This week, someone told me about cortisol and his explanation was very vague. I see that many people are afraid of it because they don’t understand it. It’s time to go deeper to understand Cortisol, because the body doesn’t create it to destroy itself.

What is its role

role

Cortisol is a stress hormone and it works like a type of alarm system in your body. It controls your fear, motivation, mood to handle dangerous situations. This hormone has several role:

Organize the energy of the stores

It organizes all type of energy that your body has to always be functional for a dangerous event. It means amino acids from muscle tissue, muscle and liver glycogen and fatty acids from body fat.

Stabilize blood sugar levels

When your blood sugar levels are very low, it helps to keep normal levels.

Boost your stamina and attention

Cortisol boosts Phenylethanolamine-N-methyltransferase (PNMT). PNMT is an enzyme that transforms noradrenaline to adrenaline. This method increases your adrenaline’s rate.

Boost the power of muscle contraction

This is a consequence of a high rate of adrenaline.

Boost the power of heart contraction and rate

It’s an effect of a high adrenaline’s level. Oxygen move better to muscle

Weaken the immune system

When there is a threatening situation, the body needs all the resources possible. For example, a fight. The high rate of cortisol will weaken the immune system to have the maximum of energy possible. When the rate decreases, the immune system has the full power back to repair the damage from the fight.

All these roles help you to get through an unsafe situation and survive. The thing is if the cortisol has a high rate for a long time, it can create problems in your body. Let’s see in different areas how cortisol can be bad.

Muscle Gain

gain muscle

A high rate of cortisol for a long period can impact muscle in a unhealthy way with these methods:

Muscle is less feed by food

Muscle receive fewer amino acids to create new tissue. Restocking of glycogen stores is decline too.

Boost muscle damage

There is a high level of protein damage (catabolism) than protein synthesis (anabolism). This is why we say “stress (cortisol) eat the muscle”.

Muscle take more time to repair

The immune system is very important to repair muscle. When a high rate of cortisol is recurring, it weakens the immune system.

Boost myosatin

Myostatin is a myokine, a protein created by the muscle and it limits its growth. It means when you have a high rate of myostatin, it limits your muscle gain.

On the long term it declines testosterone rate

Pregnenolone is a hormone that creates testosterone and cortisol. To have a high rate of cortisol, your body needs a huge amount of pregnenolone to make it. It means there will be less pregnenolone to create testosterone.

At the end of your training session, the level of your protein synthesis is big for around 24-30 hours. This is the period where your body repairs your muscle and add new tissue. When your immune system is fragile, your body uses these amounts of hours to only repair the breakdown you caused. Your body is not able to produce new muscle, it means you don’t gain muscle.

Recovery

fat loss weight

A long period of high rate of cortisol can impact your recovery in these ways:

Decrease the production of growth hormone

At night you have a natural spike of growth hormone and a high rate of cortisol disrupt your recovery. When your recovery is not optimal, you don’t progress.

Decline muscle glycogen storage

Gycogen is critical in the process of recovery.

Speed down the reparation of muscle

Growth hormone maintains, build and repair tissue. It means it also builds muscle mass. You gain muscle by repairing muscle. When the cortisol decreases the production of growth hormone, you don’t have results.

Increase adrenaline rate

Adrenaline (or epinephrine) is a helpful hormone before a workout session. It boosts your cardiorespiratory activity (more oxygen to the muscles). It also improves your metabolism, your mood, and your body is more reactive. Before to go to bed, it doesn’t help you to sleep.

Fat loss

The famous coach Charles Poliquin said that when you have too much cortisol, it stores your fat in abs. There is a problem here because cortisol has also as function to organize stored energy. Fat is a kind of energy for the body. It means cortisol doesn’t store fat, you know, fat is energy.

Another function of cortisol is that is a fat loss hormone when the rate is high while a short time. If the high rate is recurring, it complicated the action to fat loss.

Decline the transformation of hormone T4 to T3

A little explanation about these hormones. The thyroid is a gland in the neck. It creates three hormones: triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4) and calcitonin. T3 and T4 adjust the temperature of your body, your metabolism, and your heart rate. T3 usually sticks to protein in your body.

The thyroid creates a lot of T4 to change it in T3. T3 modifies the metabolism rate. When you have a high rate of metabolism, you burn more calories. In the case where your body has a low level of energy, the thyroid creates less T4. Fewer T4 means fewer T3 and the result is a low metabolism rate and the body burns fewer calories.

Do you remember what happens in a situation when your body lacks food? The cortisol rate is high to keep blood sugar stable and organize stored energy. This is a mechanism of the body to survive since the prehistoric era. Today is good because access to food is better. Unfortunately, cortisol can have a high rate because of other stress factors.

Insulin resistance

Cortisol boosts the blood sugar rate in a crisis event (lacking food, running away or fighting). These emergency circumstances allow the body to release glucose for energy. When people are sedentary and the blood sugar level is high, it’s not good. The level stays longer high and can drive to hyperglycemia. The body to avoid it creates insulin to decline the rate of blood sugar to a normal level.

Imagine a situation where cortisol’s rate is high a lot of time. It boosts the blood sugar levels and the body produces insulin every time. The result of this is insulin resistance. In the plan to lose fat, settle a caloric deficit is crucial. Unfortunately, insulin resistance and a metabolic rate low make the process more difficult. It can even create a surplus of fat.

Let’s be things clear, insulin alone doesn’t make you fat, it stores the elements of your food. It’s when insulin has a high rate that is tough for the body to use fat in a good way.

Insulin resistance means that the cells work badly with insulin. The result is the body needs to create more insulin to do the same task with the cells. When there is a huge amount of insulin, it takes more time to go back to the normal level. When there is a big quantity of insulin for a long time, the body has trouble to use fat.

It is the same thing for cortisol. Alone, cortisol doesn’t make you fat. It’s when cortisol has a high rate that is tough for the body to use it in a good way.

Share this article if you think it can help someone you know. Thank you.

-Steph

Nutrition

nutrition, food, energy, diet, metabolism, nutrient, calorie,

What’s up ? This is THE stephane ANDRE. With my training, I’m interested in nutrition to stay in shape. I read a Arnold Schwarzenegger’s book « Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding » and I learned some good stuff.

Training stimulate muscle growth. To have an effective training, it’s necessary that your body has the sufficient amount of energy and enough raw materials. The role of nutrition is to carry this energy and these raw materials.

The function of nutrition is to learn how to stay lean, mean and muscular. With nutrition we learn how much food to eat in order to have the best results possible. This allows you to study the basic nutrients and calculate the amount you need. This also includes studying protein, vitamin, mineral and other supplements.

Learning nutrition allows you to be more muscular. It improves your health and improves your immune system to be able to do all your training sessions without being sick (cold for example). Good nutrition has other advantages, such as improving our recovery after training with very heavyweights, having a beautiful healthy skin, having excellent internal organs and the list is long.

Precious

precious, value, priceless, worth, rare,

For a bodybuilder, the basic of nutrition are as precious as the basic principles of training. Exercices requires energy and the amount of nutrients you eat is essential to having the body you want.

During the Arnold Classic, athletes are interviewed after their appearance on stage. At the question « What do you feel was the most important factor that helped you get in such tremendous shape for this contest ? », athletes don’t respond that it’s thanks to bench press, squat or muscle isolation. In the majortiy of cases, they explain that they improve their nutrition or their supplement to gain muscle, lose fat and be able to train with maximum energy until the competition’s day.

It’s important to say that advance in nutrition and supplements are the main reason why we’re seeing athletes with this excellent level today. Attention, progress has improved the training with the years but training has not been revolutionized as nutrition. Training and nutrition are complementary because it’s impossible to create a champion only with good nutrition. It’s essential that athletes have an intensive training, a good mental attitude and a good knowledge of nutrition.

In the past, bodybuilders approached nutrition on instinct, seat-of-the-pants basis. In a first phase, they were building muscle and getting big, but not really ripped. In a second phase, they were getting thinner (like Harnold Poole or Vince Gironda) but they were getting small. They hadn’t found the trick yet to stay big and getting ripped at the same time.

Nutrition’s fundamental are quite simple. In fact, I can’t say that it’s simple because each body is unique. It’s important to study these basic principles to apply them to your training, to understand the needs of your body and to see how your body reacts to different diets to gain or lose weight. There is always this instinctive aspect but with this nutritive knowledge, it’s easier to adjust the quantity to have the body that you want.

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-Steph

P.S. If you’re in Miami and you like Caribbean food, go to my cousin’s bistro to eat Haitian food, click here.

Sudden Cardiac Death

sudden, cardiac, death, hearth, sport, athlete, scd

What’s up ? This is THE stephane ANDRE. With my training, I’m interested in biomechanics to avoid injuries. I read « Sport Medicine Media Guide » and I learned some good stuff.

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is an extremely rare event. The most common reason for cardiac death related to sports is the cardiomyopathy hypertrophic, an abnormal enlargement of cardiac muscle. It’s a rare heart disease that predispose a person of SCD because of physical exertion.

Commotio cordis is another reason for SCD. It’s a direct trauma to the chest at a specific moment in the cardiac cycle and this trauma triggers a dangerous arrtyhmia (abnormal rhythm) of electrical system of the heart. A commotio cordis usually arrives in sports where a blunt projectile, such as baseball ball or hockey puck, hits the athlete’s chest.

Treatment

Cardiac arrhythmias that threaten the lives of young athletes are very difficult to treat. The immediate use of AED (automated external defibrillator) can provide an advantage.

Prevent

sudden, cardiac, death, sport, hearth, athlete, scd

Unfortunately, the only way to prevent death from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is to identify the disease and recommend the athlete avoid any strenuous activities. Cardiac ultrasound can diagnose this condition. Some experts have called for the screening of athletes with ultrasound or electrocardiograms (EKG), although this screening is controversial because of the high cost and scarcity of this condition.

However, athletes with cardiac symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath in relation to physical activity, palpitations, convulsions and especially syncope (fainting) must stop the competitions and must do deeper tests.

In addition, a family history of cardiac abnormalities justifies a complete cardiac evaluation. Especially a known parent with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or a history unexplained sudden death in a family member.

There is the creation of different forms of protection for the chest and pads, but unfortunately no method has prevented this tragic event. The rules regularly change in the sport and some times to try to avoid commotio cordis. For example in baseball and softball, it’s the limitation of the use of aluminium bat. This rule can protect the pitcher by decreasing the speed of the ball after contact with the bat. There are other rules too, such as using a softer ball and teaching players to turn their chest when the ball is hit by the bat.

Stats

  • Fortunately, SCD is extremely rare in the sport. For the majority of people do sports to cardiac benefits.
  • In young athetes, the most common causes of SCD are 25-30% hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and 20% commotio cordis.
  • Coronary artery abnormalities are the cause of 14% of SCD in athletes.
  • Marc-Vivian Foe, a Cameroonian soccer star had a sudden cardiac death during a match in 2003.

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-Steph

P.S. If you’re in Miami and you like Caribbean food, go to my cousin’s bistro to eat Haitian food, click here .

Acromioclavicular Joint Injury

acromioclavicular joint injury

What’s up ? This is THE stephane ANDRE. With my training, I’m interested in biomechanics to avoid injuries. I read « Sport Medicine Media Guide » and I learned some good stuff.

Acromioclavicular joint is a joint between the clavicle and the scapula. Acromion is a continuation of the scapular spine and hooks over anteriorly. It articulate with the clavicle (collar bone ) to form the acromioclavicular joint.

Problems types

The most common problems are arthritis, fracture and separation. Arthritis is characterized by a loss of joint’s cartilage. Arthritis of acromioclavicular joint is common with weight lifter, especially with bench press and a little less with shoulder press. When there is a problem with the rotator cuff, it’s possible that there is also acromioclavicular joint’s arthritis.

Acromioclavicular separation

acromioclavicular joint injury type grade

When there is an acromioclavicular joint separation, it means that the ligament that connects the acromion and clavicle is damaged and that the 2 structures don’t align properly. Separation’s state can be weak or severe, that is why there is a system of « grade » according to which ligament is torn and the severity of the tear.

Grade I Injury – This is the weakest damage and the acromioclavicular joint is still aligned.

Grade II Injury – This is an average damage. Ligaments are only stretched but not fully torn. In case of stress (physical effort), the acromioclavicular joint becomes painful and unstable.

Grade III Inury – This is a serious damage. Ligaments are completely torn and the collar bone is no longer attached to the scapula, which creates a visible deformity.

Treatment of acromioclavicular joint arthritis

If the rest, ice, medications and change of the training program (changing the exercises) don’t work, the next step is a shot of cortisone. A shot of cortisone in the joint may have calmed the pain and may be permanently swollen. As each individual is unique, the effects may vary and it’s possible that it doesn’t swell permanently.

If non-surgical methods fail, it’s possible to perform a surgical operation. The pain is localized at the bones end that make contact with each other and the goal of the operation is to remove some of the end of the clavicle. This ambulatory surgery can be done with a small incision of 1 inch (2.5 cm) long or with the arthroscopy technique with 2-3 incisions. The results and recovery of these 2 surgical techniques are about the same. Most patients have a full movement by 6 weeks and can return to do sport by 12 weeks.

Treatment for acromioclavicular separation

Separation can create very painful injuries, so the first thing to do is to decrease the pain. Hold the arm in a sling, put ice and pack the shoulder for 20-30 minutes every 2 hours as needed. Acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications can also help calm the pain.

When the pain begins to subside, it’s important to move the fingers, wrists and elbow (and eventually the shoulders) in order to avoid having stiff or « frozen » shoulder. The length of time needed to regain complete movement and function depends on the severity or injury’s grade.

Recovery from Grade I acromioclavicular separation usually takes 10-14 days while Grade III takes 6-8 weeks.

When surgery

Grade I and II separations require very rarely surgery. With a Grade III injury, after surgery, it’s possible to have full body physical activity with some restrictions.

Statistics

  • More males than females suffer acromioclavicular joint injuries

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-Steph

Universal And Unique Principles

converse chuck tailor black custom the simpson

converse chuck tailor black standard

I watched an Olivier Roland’s video  and I learned good stuff.

I noticed that there is an approach to selling a service or product, especially used by coaches, which is based on the principle that « everyone is different ». Say like that, it’s hard not to agree with this principle because everyone is unique and everyone has their own characteristics.

When a person uses this philosophical principle, it’s easy to see his/her way of thinking and his/her actions. As many coaches use this principle, they try to set up a unique service for each person and each person evolves at his/her own pace.

It’s not a problem to use this principle but there are disadvantages. These people find no interest in methods that work for most people. For example, the McDonald’s method or school systems work in a universal way.

You have to realize that as a human being, there is a lot of common ground between us. There is 1% difference in our DNA compared to the DNA of a chimpanzee. So you see that the difference in genetics between several human beings is extremely ridiculous.

2 human beings coming from distant countries like a person from Botswana and a person from Norway have much more genetically in common than between a human being and a chimpanzee. All human beings all have a head, a body, hands, feet and we all have the ability to speak a language. It’s true that the language is different because it comes from culture but at the base, we all have the programming necessary to learn it.

When we understand that, we can see that there is a huge part of things that human beings have in common and that comes from DNA. DNA is a material like a hardware (computer, smartphone) and culture is like a software. Culture is the element that allows us to have different behaviors.

In the book « Influence : Science and Practice » by Robert Cialdini , he shows us several influencing factors that make people more likely to believe you, to listen to you when you ask them to do something. These factors are universal among all cultures. Cultures will just change the importance of certain things over others compared to other cultures.

Universal and unique

people diversity

Be careful not to let yourself be trapped in this principle. Yes, we’re all unique because we need to have things that correspond only to us. But there are methods that work for 99% of people. You can use a method that works for 99% of people and then customized products or services for people who want it.

You can meet coaches who use 100% this principle that everyone is unique and he often asks you the question : « Wait, you communicate to thousands of prospects and clients, how do you can do because each person is unique, etc ».

These coaches are right and wrong at the same time. It’s obvious that a customized product or a customized service so more effective, but if you can create a standard product or standard service, you can help 100 000 times more people.

For me, it’s necessary to use the 2 principles. You make a standard product or standard service and you make a customized product or a customized service for the people who ask it. With these 2 principles combined, you can really grow your business to build a legacy.

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-Steph

Stop To Be Shredded Everytime

black shredded athlete

black shredded athlete

I watched a Jamcore DZ’s video  and I learned good stuff.

Spring is here and I see that everyone wants to be shredded to show off this summer. I think it’s interesting to explain the difference between be shredded or cutting phase and losing weight.

Be shredded or cutting phase comes from the bodybuilding’s field. After taking muscle mass, be shredded allows to show your muscles striated in detail.

People confuse be shredded or cutting phase and a loss of weight. When you do a good weight loss, you lose water and fat without losing muscle mass and bone mass. When you’re shredded or cutting phase, you lower your bodyfat to 5% to see your muscles in detail as a bodybuilder competing.

Please, women and girls, stop saying that you are shredded or cutting phase. Naturally you have more fat than men and that’s normal because it’s to feed the baby when you will be pregnant. Your body programmed for that and that’s normal. For a woman or a girl to be shredded, it’s necessary to take steroids like women who participate in bodybuilding competitions. A clean weight loss is excellent and sufficient for toning and having a beautiful body.

Let’s talk about weight loss. There are plenty of stupid draconian weight loss programs. These programs cause loss of muscle mass, loss of bone mass, slow down metabolism and create health problems. I wrote 2 articles about it, click here  and there for Part 1  and Part 2 .

Wait

body under construction

I agree with this point of view and I think it’s necessary to be patient before be shredded or cutting phase. Wait 5 years before doing your first cutting phase. Make a clean mass gain for 5 years. Jamcore DZ waited 7 years before to participate in his 1st competition. At the 2nd competition, he felt like he was flat net to his competitors. He waited 3 years before participate in his 3rd competition. 10 years to gain muscle clean with a healthy nutrition to have nice muscle mass when he’s shredded.

So wait at least 5 years to have a healty muscle mass gain before to be shredded or cutting phase. Maybe you find that long but see the reasons :

  • 1st reason : Learn and understand how your body works.

  • 2nd reason : Learn the art of patience. You’re going to have trouble but all the best things are hard to get. You will realize each summer with your friends who will show off but your friends are flat. They believe that they have muscle mass but in fact they’re thin and dry and you arrive and BOOOOM !

  • 3rd reason : After 5 years when you’re shredded, it will encourage you for the next cutting phase. You know that you have to rest your body for several years by gaining muscles in a healthy way to have a better body for the next time. I know that there are people who want to be shredded after 2 years but the results are poor : less experience and more muscle loss because there aren’t enough muscles that was built so a small muscle mass visible. Me, the first time I was shredded, I was disgusted, I felt flat because I had a small muscle mass visible.

    It’s depressing and most people when they’re in this situation, they think to take steroids to show off with pictures on social media. This is happening right now on social media.

  • 4th reason : The more you’re shredded, the more you will regress because you lose more and more muscles. When you’re shredded, you lose some of your muscles, this is the process. So if you do this every years or every 6 months, you lose each time a part of the muscles that you have built.

The most common question

ask question

To start, people who tell you that you can do this all your life are liars. When you start training, you do something new to your body several times a week. It’s like a romantic relationship with a girl. It’s beautiful and after 6 months, she starts to piss you off, you start to piss her off and after you breakup. For muscle mass, it’s the same principle. At first you’ll build muscles and you’ll change your composition’s body, it’s normal.

After a while (2-3 years), your body starts to adapt and you stagnate. That’s when you’re looking for a training system that suits you, you focus on muscle isolation during an exercise, you improve your recovery and you evolve slowly. Gaining healthy muscle takes time and you have to accept it.

At the beginning of your training, you’ll lose fat and water and gain muscle at the same time for 2-3 years and then you’ll stagnate. Most of people who gain muscle get fat because they eat too much and don’t do cardio. Cardio all year is important to help control your weight. When I say doing cardio, it means doing cardio at a middle level, not cardio at a high level to be shredded. Doing cardio while you’re gaining muscle helps you progress because you keep a metabolism that works.

Share this article if you think it can someone you know. Thank you.

-Steph