Cortisol, the word which has been heavily attached to bodybuilding is none other than a body hormone which is also called stress hormone. It is a catabolic hormone which is completely opposite to testosterone which is an anabolic hormone. Catabolic means anything that is breaking down and anabolic means the building phase. Cortisol is also released during training as the body muscle tissues are broken down. We later supplement the body with enough nutrients in order to build them back which is the anabolic phase.
A lot of studies have reflected upon the effects of cortisol in the human body. It is primarily excess of cortisol that creates a problem than just normal levels of cortisol. Excess cortisol results in the lack of development of the anabolic hormone testosterone. We also see a very common phenomenon these days of individual with a lot of belly fat, this is also one of the negative effects of excess cortisol in the body. With stress increases cortisol and you will often hear people advising you to take a break and do not take stress. It simply comes down to this issue of stress bringing your immunity down, reduction in muscles in the body which also gives a sick dull look. A lot of bodybuilders often talk about their stress during the last 2–3 days before the competition. They simply avoid getting stressed as they know the reverse effects it will have on their body when its most important.
Another reason for higher cortisol levels maybe in case of you over-training. Over training also causes cortisol to spike more than required doing your body more harm than good. Training at optimal intensity that suits your physical and mental capabilities is equally important. Analyse your daily routing and plan your workouts accordingly so that you dont end up stressing your physical system way too much. Even your cardio sessions need not be overdone so that your entire system is not stressed. 2–3 sessions of 30 minutes of cardio is optimum for a good cardio vascular endurance training.
Stress arising out of work situations, excessive work pressure are all reasons for increase in stress hormone. Make sure to balance your professional commitments with adequate breaks in between to ensure your body maintains a healthy balance of hormones.