Useful Stuff to Know » article » Workout Tips for People with High Cortisol Levels » Feb 1, 07:27 AM

Workout Tips for People with High Cortisol Levels

If you have high cortisol levels, you overtrain more easily and so your workout capacity is reduced.

Signs of high cortisol include:

  • feeling burnt out
  • being on edge
  • shallow breathing
  • trouble losing bodyfat
  • prone to accumulating fat especially around the middle
  • problems sleeping through the night

One big problem with cortisol is that it temporarily makes you more diabetic-like when levels are high. That means you become more insulin resistant during that time. You’re less tolerant of carbs and intense workouts. In fact, doing an intense workout during such a time can cause cortisol to become so high, that insulin likewise rises and sucks a good deal of glucose out of your blood (by converting it to fat) and so you get an energy crash.

Because white blood cells need glucose to function, this can lead to upper respiratory infections post workout. Your immune system takes a hit and you come down with a cold for a day or two.

The solution is simple: do shorter workouts more frequently and don’t push yourself to extremes.

For example, do 4-5 different workout sessions, each lasting just a couple minutes, but spread these throughout an evening.

Go for resistance exercises, around 15-20 reps per set. This allows for faster recovery so that you can work out every day. Come up with 3 different workout days and rotate through them. That allows 2 full days of recovery per muscle group.

In summary, it’s better to do several short workouts per day than one or two intense workouts per week. Volume makes up for weight and intensity in terms of muscle growth and fitness.

Obviously if your cortisol and hormone balance is fine and you can train hard without getting sick or injuring yourself, go for it. But for anyone who has experienced overtraining symptoms, including getting dead tired after a workout instead of feeling invigorated, try this approach instead.

As for managing high cortisol in the first place, the number one thing is getting more sleep and that includes taking naps or power naps when needed (set a timer for 18 minutes and try to nod off at least once during that time by relaxing your body, breathing naturally, and blanking your mind). Getting only 6 hours each night and then chugging coffee to make up the difference will cause adrenal fatigue and rapid aging in the long run. So get enough sleep and that will go a long way.