How does alcohol affect my strength in the gym?
With the Christmas holiday less than 2 week away I’m sure even the most strict among as are planning to indulge a little (or a lot!) over the holidays, not just in food, but the merry juice that is alcohol,
but how will this affect your strength in the gym?
Now, its no surprise to us that alcohol is a toxin to the body, with a vast array of negative health benefits compared to its positive ones, but we are all well aware of those by now so I wont mention those
You’re hear to find out how alcohol is sucking your gains from your body and potentially having an adverse effect of stopping them completely.
Lets start with the most obvious.
Red-eyed and a mouth dryer than Gandis flip flop, you emerge from a rough nights sleep, potentially waking up in a place you’re not familiar with and the first thought is what muscle group you’re going to destroy today…yeah that’s probably not you’re first thought, or second or a thought you’ll be having at all today.
This is because when you feel as rough as a badgers backside the last thought to cross your mind is hitting the gym, this is strike one for your strength gains, you cant make them if you don’t even make it to the gym!
If you manage to drag your sorry carcass to the gym you wont be fooling anyone, or hitting any PB’s, or even close, and here is why…
Alcohol has a significant effect on your hormone levels, especially testosterone, the hormone responsible for aggression, muscle development and you guessed it…strength! You were knocking kilos off your lifts with every pint you sank the night before…or bottle of wine, ladies.
However it doesn’t stop with testosterone, your HGH (Human Growth Hormone) that flows through your body primarily when you sleep to aid in muscle development, repair and recovery, is also suppressed.
This is because excessive alcohol consumption interrupts your sleep cycle, despite the fact it initially sends you off as soon as your head hits the pillow, you’ll be tossing and turning all night with potential frequent trips to the bathroom to vomit/empty your bladder.
The Pre-Booze Pump
So, you’ve rescheduled your rest days so that you hit the gym BEFORE the big night out, cant miss a gym session the next day if you don’t have one planned right?
Unfortunately your pre-booze chest and bicep pump session is essentially pointless if you hit the bar shortly after the gym, this is because alcohol will dehydrate your muscles and in turn this has a negative effect on ATP production (See this article) as well as protein synthesis resulting in you guessed it, decreased muscle gain!
There are of course many more reasons why alcohol can stop you achieving your fitness goals, but these are the often unrealised effects that alcohol will have on your muscle and strength development.
With that said, there’s no need to be a miserable git this year and not enjoy a drink or two, you’ve hopefully been working hard in the gym all year so you can handle a week or so of taking it easy, so relax, have a drink, get back to your routine in the new year and get back to smashing your goals!