Research on exercise and cortisol.
Cortisol is an important hormone for breaking down proteins to make fuel. Cortisol also helps initiate an immune response to infection. However, tough exercise programs increase the production of cortisol.
Elevated Cortisol Levels
Elevated cortisol levels in the blood impede the transport of nutrients into muscle. This prevents effective recovery from training. Research performed by Dr. Dean Jacks has shown that short duration, high intensity exercise is best for minimizing excessive cortisol production.
Dr. Jacks and his colleagues showed that exercise duration is a key factor in minimizing excessive cortisol production; the longer the duration, the greater the concentration of circulating cortisol levels after exercise. Intense exercise for one hour increased cortisol concentrations four times more than a 30 minute workout at the same intensity.
Reducing Excessive Cortisol Production
Smart athletes perform high intensity cardio and weight training efficiently, so they never have to worry about reducing excessive cortisol production. High Intensity cardio takes only 20 minutes from start to finish.
Proper weight training is based on a low volume, maximum overload approach that should have most bodybuilders finishing their workouts within 40 minutes or less. Minimal cortisol production is just another reason why our approach ensures rapid results.
I’ve seen the pro football players’ immerse themselves in cold water bath or pool after a game. Does this enhance recovery, and if so, how?
The effects of cold water immersion on muscle recovery has shown some positive results.
Only 6 to 20 minutes of immersion in cold water was reported to promote blood flow and regulate body temperature after intense or prolonged exercise.
A few studies also reported that this strategy also increased vertical jump capacity during recovery more so than other forms of passive rest or active recovery.
While these results indicate enhanced recovery from cold water immersion, other studies show zero benefit from this strategy.
At the elite level, coaching staff are constantly looking at what might give their athletes an edge. Water immersion after a game or intense training doesn’t appear to have any adverse affects, and some research suggests that it may speed recovery. That’s why this strategy is probably used at the elite level.