Exercise and asthma aren’t mutually exclusive.

Everyone knows how it feels to struggle through a workout when your lungs are basically shrieking that you should just stop and go back to bed. But if working out always makes your lungs feel like you’re in the ninth circle of hell, you might actually have exercise-induced asthma. Here’s how you can spot the symptoms, plus expert-approved tips on managing exercise-induced asthma even if you’re a workout fiend.

As its name implies, exercise-induced asthma is when you experience trouble breathing while pushing yourself physically.

Asthma happens when the airways in your lungs narrow and produce excess mucus to the point where you experience issues like coughing, a whistling sound when you breathe (wheezing), chest tightness and pain, and shortness of breath, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). Some people only experience this domino effect while they’re working out, which is when exercise-induced asthma enters the picture.

Experts actually often refer to exercise-induced asthma with the more specific name exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. This is to clarify that while strenuous exercise may trigger the airways in your lungs to narrow (aka bronchoconstriction), it’s not actually an underlying cause of asthma, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Just like with asthma, exercise-induced bronchoconstriction can lead to symptoms like coughing, wheezing, chest tightness and pain, and shortness of breath. But you can also experience exercise-specific issues, like an abnormal level of fatigue during your workouts. Some people also feel out of shape when they’re actually not, Sadia Benzaquen, M.D., a pulmonologist and associate professor in the department of internal medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, tells SELF. “It can impact your life—you may not be able to go for a hike with friends or play a soccer game without feeling uncomfortable,” he says.

These symptoms can start just a few minutes into a workout session, but like with most illnesses, everyone is different. “I’ve had patients be well into exercise and then [all of a sudden] they can’t function,” Raymond Casciari, M.D., a pulmonologist at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., tells SELF.

Though there may be many causes at play behind exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, experts have pinpointed one main factor. “Because you’re inhaling a large volume of air beyond what you would normally, it creates an inflammatory reaction that causes narrowing of the airways and mucus production,” Emily Pennington, M.D., a pulmonologist at the Cleveland Clinic, tells SELF.

While physical activity is the main trigger of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, different factors can make it worse, including cold or dry air, air pollution, high pollen counts, swimming pool chlorine, chemicals used with ice rink resurfacing equipment, having a respiratory infection or lung disease, or doing activities that require a lot of extended deep breathing, like long-distance running, swimming, or soccer, according to the Mayo Clinic.

If it feels way too hard to catch your breath when you’re exercising, see a doctor for testing.

For starters, your doctor will probably give you lung tests to figure out how well you can breathe when you’re not exercising. This helps them determine if you have underlying asthma unrelated to exercise or just exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, according to the Mayo Clinic.

First up, they may have you do a spirometry test, which uses a mouthpiece connected to an instrument called a spirometer to measure how much air you inhale and exhale, and how quickly you can exhale it. After you take the spirometry test, your doctor will probably give you a bronchodilator, which is an inhaled medication that opens up your lungs, the Mayo Clinic says. You’ll then do the spirometry test again, and your doctor will compare the results to see if the bronchodilator helped improve your airflow. If it did, you might have underlying asthma that just gets worse when you exercise instead of solely having exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.

Your doctor may also put you through something known as an exercise challenge, which is when you run on a treadmill or ride on a stationary bike to get your breathing up so they can see what’s happening in your body when you work out. They’ll also likely administer spirometry tests before and after to get evidence that you have bronchoconstriction from exercise, Dr. Benzaquen says.

Another diagnostic option involves tests where you inhale something that basically fools your lungs into behaving the way they would during a workout, according to the Mayo Clinic.

If you already know that you have asthma and it seems to get worse when you work out, your doctor might diagnose you without putting you through other testing, Khalid M. Eltawil, M.D., a pulmonologist with Torrance Memorial Medical Center, tells SELF.

You don’t have to just suffer through exercise-induced bronchoconstriction—there are a few things you can do to keep your airways clear during workouts.

The most common treatment is using an inhaler a set period of time before you exercise, Dr. Casciari says. The inhaler will contain medication to keep your lungs from going haywire, like a short-acting beta agonist to open up your airways. Though it will depend on your specific prescribing information, you’ll typically use inhalers with short-acting beta antagonists 15 to 20 minutes before exercise, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Usually this kind of treatment does the trick, Dr. Benzaquen says, but if you’re still struggling, your doctor might tack on a longer-term treatment in addition to one you take before exercise. This might include daily medications like inhaled corticosteroids to help suppress inflammation in your airways, combination inhalers that contain a corticosteroid and a long-acting beta agonist to prevent inflammation and relax your airways, and leukotriene modifiers to can block inflammatory chemicals that can cause asthma symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic.

There are also little exercise tweaks you can make. For example, since cold, dry air is a big trigger for a lot of people with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction, covering your mouth with something warm like a scarf when you work out outside can make a big difference, Dr. Pennington says. Warming up adequately before you go all-out can also help your body become accustomed to the extra airflow during exercise, Dr. Casciari says. So can breathing through your nose as you exercise (since it will warm and humidify air more than your mouth will), avoiding allergy triggers like exercising outside when pollen is at its peak, and avoiding working out if you’re sick since respiratory infections tax your airways.

Basically, there are a lot of options out there that can help if you struggle with exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Don’t just assume working out isn’t for you—talk to your doctor about a treatment plan that can help you get through exercise sessions instead of throwing in the towel.

Learn How to Fix Muscle Imbalance and Asymmetry: When One Side, Arm or Leg is Bigger or Stronger Than the Other.

Here’s what you will learn in this guide:

  • What is asymmetry
  • Types of symmetry and asymmetry
  • Impact and types of asymmetry
  • How to reverse the process of asymmetry
  • Body symmetry as a goal in physical development

Beauty and symmetry – It seems like these two things are always, inevitably connected to one another, and they are no exception in sports and bodybuilding.

Athletes can be models, but models can never be professional sports players.

Of course, in this article, we won’t talk about artificial ways of dealing with disbalances, like scalpels, silicon and so on, but instead, we will talk about how we can naturally reverse the process of disbalance which, in most cases is expressed in the right arm being bigger than the left one.

In this article, we will reach to the problem with a scientific approach and will exclude the philosophical side of the topic about the beauty of the human body.

What is Asymmetry and What is Symmetry in the Modern-Day World?

In anthropometry, the symmetry is linked to beauty in terms of measurements, as there are certain number ratios that could potentially define an aesthetic physique (E.g.- When the calf measurement equals the arm measurement)

Sounds simple, right? Well, not really.

Bodybuilding, since it was created, focuses on the development of symmetric, athletic body.

Throughout the years, the idea of a beautiful, symmetric body changed controversially and the problem of symmetry was not just “an even left and right side” anymore. Symmetry was considered the correct ratios between the left and right side of the body, along with the lengths, circumferences, and shapes of the human musculature.

Symmetry nowadays is a symmetry of choice. The modern athleticism offers a wide variety of options, when it comes to body development, from which we can choose how to look, depending on our own anthropometry and physical properties.

Without certain norms, we can choose how to work on our bodies, what to emphasize on and how much fat to cover the musculature with.

However, there are still certain ratios that may cause our bodies to look unnatural and even place some functional boundaries.

Types of Symmetry and Asymmetry

  • Visual muscle symmetry – Correct ratios between the lengths, circumferences and shapes of the body musculature. Wrong ratios here, we call “asymmetry” or “imbalance”
  • Functional symmetry– The symmetry here includes a good posture, basic joint mobility, basic musculature flexibility, strength, strength endurance and muscle tone. The criteria here are the correct motor patterns of the human body. Any disruptions in those movement patterns can be referred to as imbalance.
  • Strength symmetry– It begins where the normal strength capabilities of the athlete end. Each specialized sport inevitably leads to the superior development of certain muscle groups, involved in it. So, in a sense, we can say that every professional athlete suffers from strength asymmetry.

The perfectly functional human being won’t really be a marvelous athlete in a certain sport if you compare him to a top athlete, but he/she won’t be average either, but rather able to achieve good results if put under athletically-challenging circumstances of any kind.

Visual symmetry

  • Bilateral symmetry or left-right
  • Symmetry of the upper and lower body limbs
  • Symmetry between the torso and the limbs
  • Specific symmetry: Biceps-triceps; wrist-forearms; shoulders-shoulder circumference; chest circumference, waistline, hips; etc;

Most criteria of visual body symmetry were defined during the Golden Era of Bodybuilding.

The Golden Era of Bodybuilding!

Hundreds of classic bodybuilders were researched to collect anthropometric data that would determine what the measurements of the perfect-looking bodybuilders would be.

Let’s take a look at each type of muscle imbalance.

Visual asymmetry

Genetically predetermined asymmetry – This type of asymmetry is caused by genetic factors. Here we include predetermined ratios of the length of certain parts of the skeleton, like the ratios between the torso and limbs, arms and legs, as well as the length and attachments of all muscle groups (the attachments depend on the bone length to a certain extent).

Asymmetry caused by training – The differences in the tension exercised upon different sectors of the musculature is the next factor that causes visual muscle imbalances.

There are people who praise big arms and put a priority on them, leading to an imbalance between them and the rest of the body.

Asymmetry caused by insufficient training – This type of asymmetry is caused by insufficient training of certain muscle groups- Skipping leg days, insufficient ab training, rear deltoids and lower back training.

Asymmetry caused by serious injury – Breaking the femur bone, for example, may lead to a long-term muscle imbalance between the left and right legs and glutes.

Other injuries that can cause visual imbalance are muscle/tendon tears or serious joint damage.

Functional asymmetry

When we look at complex movements, that involve many muscles and joints, the body has a serious number of available movement patterns that have the same end result, this means that every movement can be done in a number of ways, under different angles, due to the flexibility of the joints, ligaments and the musculature.

Muscle Balance and Imbalance Around a Joint
Muscle Balance (Left) and Imbalance (Right) Around a Joint

So, for example, if we want to pick something off of the floor, we have a couple of options: To squat on both legs or just on one of them, to bend over or even lunge forward.

Systematically using certain muscle groups and not using others, leads to increased muscle tone of the active muscle groups and decreased muscle tone of the passive muscle groups, which, often also reach the point of atrophy.

Other side effects of such imbalance are the worsened body posture, increased and decreased joint mobility in the respectively active and inactive muscle groups.

So, if you are right-handed but your left arm is lacking- Simply use your left arm more. Picking up something? Do it with your left arm. Carrying a heavy grocery bag? Your right arm is stronger but the left needs to catch up- Use it! Make it adapt to more tension and it will eventually even out.

Strength symmetry

This type of asymmetry is often linked to the visual and functional asymmetry. Sometimes however there are hidden disbalances like massive, but weak hamstrings, that impede the trainee from involving their glutes during deadlifts for example. This lack of strength in the hamstrings is caused by the over-developed quadriceps.

Dealing with such strength asymmetry is the main target of professional bodybuilding and sports medicine.

Common variations of such strength asymmetry are:

  • Imbalances between the pushing and pulling muscle groups
  • Bilateral strength symmetry – expressed during maximum effort sets of 1 to 2 repetitions. (E.g. Doing a one rep max, during which one of the arms manages to push more than the other one)
  • Bilateral explosive strength asymmetry
  • Bilateral strength endurance asymmetry (one of the limbs reaches failure earlier)

Influence between the types of asymmetry

Functional asymmetry is one of the most common imbalances in sports, even though most perfect athletes tend to fix it in the stages of early development, so it doesn’t escalate.

The correct functional symmetry begins with control over the physical development from a young age. This gives a possibility for optimal sports potential development, which therefore grants good health and sports longevity.

However, for amateur trainees who grew without the attention of a sports family, course or a specialized sports routine, the fixes for this muscle imbalance can be found in the neighborhood training room.

However, even with a strong fundament and lack of functional asymmetry, there is still a border between training purely for visual change and training for functionality.

How to Fix Muscle Imbalance

There are three basic approaches when it comes to correcting muscle disbalances, such as one arm being bigger than the other.

Close up of muscular bodybuilder guy doing exercises with weights.

Priority approach

With this approach, you target the given lacking muscle group with specialized techniques and a bigger training volume. To completely target the lacking muscle group you can use unilateral movements, such as dumbbell curls and dumbbell triceps extensions, which will allow you to completely isolate the lacking muscle group on the respective side.

Other tools to use with the priority approach are the isolated cable exercises for the specific muscle group.

Corrective approach

With this approach, you correctly exercise the movements that lead to a muscle disbalance with an accent to the weakly developed muscle groups.

So, for example, if you instinctively used inertial forces to compensate for the lacking strength of one of your biceps, using this method, you will pay close attention to the exercises that involve curling a dumbbell, and avoid swinging your arms during the movement. Rather than that, you would put complete focus on the engagement of the biceps musculature, with an extreme concentration on the weaker side.

Excluding approach

This is a ‘final resort’ in a sense, and it is used for extreme cases of muscle imbalances. With this approach, you exclude the overly developed muscle groups from your routine, to allow the lacking muscle groups to catch up. This approach is mostly used for synergistic muscle groups.

So, for example, if your triceps are really strong, that may cause them to take most of the tension during pushing chest exercises like the bench press. In those cases of excessive arm development, triceps-specific training is excluded from the routine so the lacking chest can catch up. Along with the exclusion of the strong synergist, isolated exercises for the lacking muscle group should follow up.

Of course, with every type of asymmetry, there are approaches which are not generally well-known but are extremely effective.

Correcting visual asymmetry (Muscle imbalance)

Visual asymmetry in bodybuilding is corrected during the muscle-building period or the so-called off-season.

During this time, the trainees choose which muscles to prioritize.

So, in order to fix muscle imbalance, you need to build your off-season workout regimen around the weak muscle groups.

Correcting functional asymmetry

This is often done by excluding movements that target the dominating muscle groups and focusing more on the weaker ones.

The dominating muscle groups are then trained with low levels of intensity, or even isometrically.

The weaker muscle groups need specialized workouts, which prioritize them.

The most common imbalance is when one of the arms is bigger than the other.

To treat such imbalances, the most often used techniques and methods are isolation, stretching and isometric training, which drastically improves the mind-to-muscle connection, which therefore leads to better quality of the workouts and higher muscle contraction efficiency.

The mind-to-muscle connection is a SKILL and possibly one of the most important aspects of highly-effective training that you can learn and improve over time. Here is a video of Tyrone Bell explaining the importance of Mind Muscle Connection and more importantly how to strengthen it.

Learn How To Strengthen Mind-to-Muscle Connection

Symmetry as a Goal

Reaching optimal functional symmetry should be a goal for every beginner athlete. Only after that, the trainees can dedicate themselves to training for visual and muscle strength symmetry.

Otherwise, sooner or later every intermediate athlete with bad functional symmetry reaches the point where they have to deal with strongly pronounced muscle disbalance, or strength disbalance, expressed by excessive strength development of either the pushing or pulling muscle groups (E.G.- You can barbell row 140 kilograms but only bench 80 kg)

Muscle Imbalance Wrap up

So, if you have one of the muscle imbalance problems listed above, it is about time for you to fix it, by using these summarized approaches:

  • Fix any functional issues that you may have – Learn how to completely engage your muscles, throughout the correct execution of each exercise. Avoid using inertial movements and instead, try to use as much of the muscle as possible.
  • Build your workout around your lacking muscle groups, so that if you have a disbalance between two muscle groups or two sides of a muscle group, your workout will prioritize those lacking body parts.
  • Fix any injuries that may hold you back from using 100% of your lacking muscle groups.
  • Make use of exercises that target muscle groups locally (isolated exercises), as these dumbbell and cable exercises are your main imbalance-fixing tools!
  • Make sure to build a better mind-to-muscle connection with the lacking muscle groups, as that will drastically help them grow and shape up.

If we had to give you advice on fixing muscle imbalance with just 3 words, they would be –

Prioritize, attack, grow! Period.

If you’ve been working out for any length of time, I’m sure you’ve seen someone who looks like a walking road map. They are so shredded and vascular it’s almost disgusting.

But you want to look like that, right?

Well since you are already lifting and hopefully eating a somewhat healthy diet, let’s dive into what makes someone vascular. While there are a few things you can do to increase vascularity, genetics will play a huge role in how they develop.

How to Create a Vascular Physique

Follow this list in order to ensure the most vascularity on your journey to becoming shredded. While not all of these apply to everyone, there are plenty of tips to here that can help you out.

Tip #1 – Lower Your Body Fat Percentage

First and foremost, it takes being relatively lean to be able to see veins pop. Sure, you have these behemoth monsters that are north of 300 pounds and vascular… But that is very uncommon.

Generally, the leaner you are, the more of an opportunity you have to be vascular. If you are carrying a lot of extra weight, clean up your diet, up your conditioning work, and start working on getting your body fat to a lower percentage.

Here’s a general breakdown of what to expect at what body fat percentage:

15%+ Body Fat. You’re holding on to too much body fat to really see any vascularity, even with a pump. The tips below will help increase vascularity, but you really need to focus on improving your overall physique here.

~12% Body Fat. Your arms show after a great workout. Your cephalic vein (you know, the infamous bicep vein) will start to peek through after a good workout. If you’re not quite vascular yet, the tips below should help you out.

~10% Body Fat. You are starting to get pretty lean and you will start seeing a lot more vascularity. Your genetics play a huge part here in determining whether you start to see a roadmap without a pump.

Your delts and quads should start to show some vascularity and the tips below will make a huge difference.

~8% Body Fat. Single digit body fat percentage can be hard to achieve, but by now you are starting to look like a walking road map. You’ll see clear overall vascularity without a pump.
Your abs should start showing signs of popping out at this level of leanness, depending on how much muscle mass you’ve built.

Clear arm, shoulder, and leg vascularity with and without a pump. Ab vascularity starts to show around this level of leanness too.

Below 8%. Hitting this body fat percentage takes a lot of preparation and execution. Being this lean means you are walking around stage ready.

If you’ve gotten down to below 8% body fat and have held onto muscle mass, you are aware of how vascular you are naturally. The tips below will turn you into a road map of downtown Cincinnati if you put some effort into it.

Tip #2 – Build More Muscle

Simply losing a lot of weight will not automatically give you a vascular physique; it takes a lot of hard work.

The more muscle mass you have, the closer your veins become to the top layer of skin. Your muscles are hungry for nutrients, and those veins and arteries are working hard to keep them nourished.

Building more muscle will be beneficial to your vascularity and physique, especially when you start getting under 15% body fat.

Tip #3 – Improve Vascular Health

Improving your cardiovascular health and conditioning will be the third most important tip you will take away from this article.

The easier your blood flows through your body, the better. You will need to improve your conditioning and start making better heart-healthy diet decisions.

Try long-term activities such as hiking, playing a sport, or utilize high-intensity interval training to improve your vascular health.

Tip #4 – Keep Water Retention Lower

Feeling bloated or visually seeing water retention will ruin any sort of vascularity you have. That party you went to over the weekend is wrecking your vascularity and you feel like crap after.

A few symptoms of water retention:

  • Bloating, most noticeable in the midsection
  • Stiff joints
  • Swollen legs, feet, ankles
  • Puffiness in your face and hands
  • Weight fluctuation

If you’ve noticed bloating, start making better food choices and work on a healthier lifestyle.
Aside from your diet, there are other things that can cause water retention:

  • Medications – Some medications affect your water retention as a side effect.
  • Weak heart – If you have a weak heart or poor cardiovascular health, your body naturally retains water.
  • Standing or sitting too long – If you have a desk job or a job on your feet all day, gravity naturally pulls blood into your lower extremities. Schedule time to get up and walk around if you have a sedentary job.
  • Making healthy choices in regards to your lifestyle and what you eat will make a huge difference on how vascular you are.

Tip #5 – Eat Slow-Digesting Carbs

Slow-digesting carbohydrates along with limited salt intake will help eliminate the amount of water weight you are holding onto.

Carbohydrates with a low GI-index like rice and sweet potatoes help your body process the sodium in your system and will make your veins much more visible.

Tip #6 – Drink Enough Water

While I shouldn’t have to mention this, drinking enough water makes a huge difference in how much water your body holds, and how well your overall health is. Many people inadvertently stay in a state of slight dehydration which affects how you perform and look.

Start setting out to drink a gallon of water throughout the day and notice how much of a difference you feel.

Tip #7 – Try Natural Diuretics

There are a lot of foods that have some diuretic effects, which help you shed water weight and help you work towards a more vascular physique.

Some of these foods include:

  • Celery
  • Onion
  • Asparagus
  • Watermelon
  • Eggplant

While a natural diuretic should help you strip some water weight, having a balanced diet and watching your carb and sodium intake will make a bigger difference.

Tip #8 – Try Supplements

There are many supplements that increase your vascularity, help you dry out, and give you an overall better workout.

Some of these supplements include:

  • Nitric Oxide
  • L-Arginine
  • L-Citrulline

Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator, meaning it relaxes your blood vessels, increases blood flow efficiency, and allows you to get more out of your workouts. L-Arginine used to be considered the premiere pump supplement because it is a nitric oxide precursor.

Tip #9 – Balance Your Sodium and Potassium Intake

Since we’ve gone over what holding water does to your vascularity, balancing your sodium and potassium intake is next. Sodium is well-absorbed and brings a lot of water weight with it.

Whenever you eat highly processed food like fast food, it causes your cells to temporarily retain water until balance can be restored to your cellular fluid levels.

Potassium plays a vital role in restoring this balance because it essentially pulls the fluid out of the cells. If you already have a relatively healthy diet, maintaining a balance between your sodium and potassium intake should help keep your water weight lower.

Tip #10 – Eat More Fish

While this is more broscience than proven evidence, eating tilapia is thought to promote weight loss, muscle growth, and has been mentioned by many that it helps to “thin” the skin.

Tilapia is great for you, rich in protein, and low in calories. While the effects mentioned above are debatable, eating tilapia is an excellent addition to any diet.

Tip #11 – Take Your Selfie Right After Training

For those of you who want to be “camera ready,” taking your selfie immediately after training should yield you the best results. Your vascular system is already dilated from your raised body temperature, and your blood is flowing to repair your muscles.

Take this time to find the right lighting and show off that bicep vein.

Tip #12 – Raise Your Body Temp

Raising your body temperature allows for better blood circulation, and helps to relax and dilate your vascular system.

Being more active keeps your body temperature higher, and adding some thermogenic supplements should really show your veins off.

Tip #13 – Get A Pump

It’s no secret that getting a pump is an easy way to get those veins popping.

Next time you go on a date, pick up some dumbbells and get a pump on. This should help you achieve getting your pump on later that night.

Tip #14 – Wear A Shirt With Tighter Sleeves

If you really want to be one of those guys, wearing tight sleeves will make you appear more vascular.

If you’ve ever gone to the hospital and gave blood, they use a tourniquet to restrict blood flow. While I don’t suggest wearing a smedium shirt, wearing something that puts some pressure on your arms should make your vascularity shine.

Tip #15 – Genetics

Genetics play one of the biggest roles in what your physique looks like. I wanted to put this on the list because no matter how many of these tips you utilize, some people just don’t have the genetics to look like someone in a muscle magazine.

Take all of this into consideration before you chalk off the rest of these tips.

Wrapping It Up

Having an impressive physique takes time and effort. Don’t rush the process and enjoy the journey to becoming a better you.

Make smarter decisions about what you eat, how much you move, and how much body fat you’re willing to hold onto if you really want to become vascular.

Whether or not you’ve resolved to get into shape this January, uscle Month is here to teach you a thing or two about stretching, contracting, lifting, tearing, gaining, and so much more.

There’s an episode of 30 Rock where Tina Fey’s character, Liz Lemon, lugs around her dirty, rancid gym bag on the subway, creating a protective stink bubble, so people don’t bother her. As a New Yorker who strongly values her personal space—paradoxical, I know—I’ve occasionally considered adopting this method.

But time after time, I remember just how foul that gym-clothes stink can get if you let it fester. And sometimes, especially with clothes made from synthetic fibers, unpleasant odors linger even after multiple washes. All of this begs the question: Why do gym clothes stink so badly? And what can we do to to freshen them up?

Why do my clothes stink?

Well, to understand why your clothes stink, you must first understand why you stink.

OK, fine. Why do I stink?

It all begins with sweat, of which humans have two kinds: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine sweat is plentiful, watery, slightly salty, and it doesn’t really smell bad. You secrete it all over your body, unlike apocrine sweat, which only comes from glands in your pits and your groin. Apocrine sweat is the nasty stuff—a thick, oily fluid made up of fatty compounds.

But apocrine sweat still doesn’t stink on its own. Your skin’s microbiome—the cast of bacterial, fungal, and viral characters living on you right now—love to eat those fatty, oily compounds in apocrine sweat. And the molecular leftovers of that feeding frenzy are what stink. That’s how B.O. is made.

Your skin’s microbiome eats stuff to create other smells, too. Lucy Dunne, an apparel engineer at the University of Minnesota, says bacteria also eat dead skin cells. “They are specialized in what they consume,” she says. “That’s why your feet smell differently than your armpits. It’s also why your feet smell like cheese—it’s the same bacteria eating your dead skin that turns milk into cheese.”

Those B.O. molecules get on my clothes and make them smell bad, right?

Right! Those “odorous compounds,” as they call them in the biz, cling to the fibers in your clothes. And all of that watery eccrine sweat carries the compounds around your body and onto your clothes, exacerbating the stink.

Things get interesting, though, when it comes to the way odorous compounds cling to different kinds of fabrics. Let’s consider the two big players in athletic apparel: cotton and polyester. According to Rachel McQueen, a textile scientist at the University of Alberta who focuses on odor, cotton is hydrophilic, or water-loving. That means it soaks up a lot of water and sweat while you work out, which is why your cotton tee can feel kind of heavy if you’re perspiring. All that warmth and wetness makes a lovely habitat for B.O.-causing bacteria, which proceed to happily stink up you and your clothes. Cotton also runs into smelly problems if you leave it wet in your hamper or gym bag for a while. It retains water so well that bacteria and fungi like mold and mildew thrive, concocting a musty body odor hellstorm. (This was Liz Lemon’s secret.)

But as stinky and sweat-soaked as your cotton tank top can get, polyester can get do much worse. McQueen says polyester is hydrophobic, or water-hating. That means it’s really great at soaking up sweat and then quickly getting rid of it through evaporation. This is what companies mean when they say a garment can “wick sweat,” and it’s what makes dry-fit workout tops so magical.

The problem is, polyester is oleophilic, a.k.a. oil-loving. So while it wicks away plenty of watery eccrine sweat to keep you feeling dry, any of the oily apocrine sweat compounds and already-digested odorous compounds that pass through the clothing cling to polyester fibers for dear life. There, they take on a new, especially foul kind of scent.

“Body odor itself is different on polyester,” says McQueen. “People know it when they smell it. It’s not your body odor, it’s your body odor on polyester. It’s a repulsive smell. And the reason for it is likely because of the selective way polyester will retain certain types of odorants.” The kinds of odorous compounds that love to hang on to polyester combine to become especially pungent.

Skin microbiome scientist Chris Callewaert—whose colleagues affectionately call “Dr. Armpit”—has put this to the test in his lab. He and his research team at Ghent University in Belgium had people take an hour-long spin class wearing cotton, polyester, or mixed blend apparel. Then, by testing which species of bacteria clung to the fibers of which garment, they found that “synthetic fibers harbor more malodor-associated bacteria,” Callewaert says. “Cotton had more of the non-smelly bacteria. The difference in microbiome [on different fabrics] helps explain the vast difference in odors between synthetic and cotton fibers.”

Why is it so hard to get rid of that gross workout smell?

A lot of the difficulty of cleaning sweaty clothes has to do with just how tightly the smelly compounds grab on to polyester, but a lot also has to do with the way we do laundry. Washing loads in cold water, a rising trend that is thought to save energy and better preserve clothes’ quality, isn’t great for getting B.O. molecules to let go of their new fiber friends. High-efficiency washers, too, have problems here, because they use less water—that makes it more difficult to pry stink compounds off of polyester or kill odor-causing bacteria.

Plus, in another Dr. Armpit study, Callewaert found that washing clothes at 30 degrees Celsius (about 86 degrees Fahrenheit) with non-specialized detergent and on a regular wash cycle didn’t consistently kill or even remove the problem bacteria. It just mixed them up.

That’s why you might smell absolutely rank in the first few minutes of your warm-up when wearing these “freshly-washed” synthetic garments. Your non-smelly sweat moistens the outfit and is quickly evaporated by design—but when that happens, parts of some lingering odorous compounds also evaporate into the air, making you smell like you just did two hours of Bikram yoga when all you did was jog a lap and do a few lunges. As you continue your workout, new odorous compounds stick to your clothes, and the cycle continues.

So what can I do to fix the lingering synthetic stink?

The easiest solution might be to just go buy a specially-formulated laundry detergent. For gym stink, Wirecutter suggests Tide Plus Febreeze Sport. Wirecutter’s test found that the detergent got the scent of bacon grease out completely. And according to Mary Johnson, a principal scientist at Tide, it’s specially formulated to eat up and wash away the odors that love polyester so much, even in cold water.

“Forty-three percent of consumers in North America wash all or most of their laundry loads in cold water,” Johnson says, adding that the company’s sport detergents have special polymers (long chains of molecules) that grab onto dirt and odor-causing compounds, preventing them from sticking back on clothes in the wash. The sport detergents also have an enzyme that gobbles up some stink-compounds, even in cold water. Stink, Johnson says, “is a big issue. People are troubled by odors. They don’t want their kid to be the stinky one on the team, and in yoga class, people don’t want others to notice their smell. Without stink, people are willing to be more social and hang out with friends after yoga class, not go home because they’re stinky and embarrassed.”

There are also a lot of household tricks that might remedy your perpetual stink. Callewaert suggests drying clothes out in the sun, weather permitting. “Ultraviolet light kills bacteria and breaks down chemical compounds,” he says. Soaking garments in vinegar or even straight vodka might work too, since those liquids kill bacteria and “capture” odorous molecules like the polymer in Tide does. (Just make sure to wash them after the soak, so you don’t smell like you bathed in vinegar or vodka.) Bleach is also an effective option for reducing stink, but it obviously lifts color, too, so use it at your own risk.

As we learn more about the microbes at the root of human gym stench, what fabrics they prefer, and what their weaknesses are, scientists and companies will be able to formulate more effective detergents, and even workout wear that doesn’t stink. (The latter solution seems promising—some companies even have apparel with microbe-killing silver threads woven in.)

Until then, we wait, doing our best to use science to fight gym stench and avoid becoming a nose-wrinkling Liz Lemon on public transit.

Should you sweat it out? Or rest and recover?

Everybody gets sick. But it’s tough to know what to do about it; do you exercise when sick or not?

Should you “sweat it out”? Or get some rest instead?

In this article we clear up the confusion. Next time you come down with the flu or a cold, you’ll know what to do.

Your friendly neighborhood gym. You’re warmed up and ready for a great workout.

Then, all the sudden, Mr. Sneezy walks by. Coughing, sniffling, and heavy mouth-breathing. He’s spraying all over the benches and mats.

“Dude, shouldn’t you just stay home and rest?” you’re thinking.

(And, while you’re at it, stop sharing those nasty germs?)

But maybe Mr. Sneezy’s onto something. Maybe he’ll be able to sweat the sickness out of his system, boosting his immune system along the way.

What’s the right approach? Let’s explore.

The immune system: A quick and dirty intro

Every single day, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites come at us. Folks, it’s a germ jungle out there!

The most common invaders are upper respiratory tract invaders, or URTI’s. Yep, I’m talking about

  • colds,
  • coughs,
  • influenza,
  • sinusitis,
  • tonsillitis,
  • throat infections, and
  • middle ear infections.

Luckily, our immune system has got a plan. When faced with foreign attack, it works hard to defend us. Without the immune system, we’d never have a healthy day in our lives.

Our immune cells originate in our bone marrow and thymus. They interact with invaders through the lymph nodes, the spleen, and mucus membranes.

This means they first make contact in your mouth, gut, lungs, and urinary tract.

immune-system

The innate and adaptive immune response

Our innate (natural) immune system is our non-specific first line of defense.

It includes:

  • physical/structural barriers (like the mucous lining in nasal passages),
  • chemical barriers (like our stomach acids), and
  • protective cells (like our natural killer ‘NK’ cells, white blood cells that can destroy harmful invaders).

This immune system develops when we’re young.

Interestingly, women tend to have a stronger overall innate immune response. (Maybe this is why they often do better than men when it comes to colds. But they suffer more often from autoimmune diseases.)

Then there’s the adaptive (acquired) immune system.

This is a more sophisticated system composed of highly specialized cells and processes. It kicks in when the innate immune system is overcome.

The adaptive immune system helps us fight infections by preventing pathogens from colonizing and by destroying microorganisms like viruses and bacteria.

Cue the T and B cells. These specialized white blood cells mature in the thymus and bone marrow, respectively. And believe it or not, they actually have a kind of memory.

It’s this memory that makes them so effective. Once they “recognize” a specific pathogen, they mobilize more effectively to fight it.

This is what we mean when we talk about “building immunity.”

Ever wondered why kids get sick with viruses more often than adults? It’s because they haven’t had as much exposure so their adaptive immune systems are less mature.

What’s more, the acquired immune response is the basis for vaccination. Subject your body to a tiny dose of a pathogen, and it will know what to do when confronted with a bigger dose.

Genius!

Should you exercise while sick?

Let’s get one thing clear from the start: there’s a difference between “working out” and “physically moving the body.”

A structured workout routine — one where you’re breathing heavily, sweating, working hard, and feeling some discomfort — awakens a stress response in the body.

When we’re healthy, our bodies can easily adapt to that stress. Over time, this progressive adaptation is precisely what makes us fitter and stronger.

But when we’re sick, the stress of a tough workout can be more than our immune systems can handle.

Still, there’s no reason to dive for the couch the minute you feel the sniffles coming on. Unless you’re severely out of shape, non-strenuous movement shouldn’t hurt you — and it might even help.

What do I mean by “non-strenuous movement”?

Well, it might include:

  • walking (preferably outdoors),
  • low intensity bike riding (again, outdoors),
  • gardening,
  • practicing T’ai Chi.

In fact, all of these activities have been shown to boost immunity. 

They aren’t intense enough to create serious immune-compromising stress on the body. Instead, they often help you feel better and recover faster while feeling under the weather.

That’s why Dr. Berardi often recommends low intensity non-panting “cardio” when suffering from colds. Done with minimal heart rate elevation, preferably outside, these activities seem to offer benefits.

What about “working out”?

Non-strenuous movement and purposefully working out are different.

Plus, as you probably know, not all workouts are created equal. There are low intensity workouts and high intensity workouts — and all sorts of workouts in between.

But what’s low to one person might be high to another. So how can you decide what level of intensity counts as strenuous?

Let your own perceived level of exertion be your guide.

In general, a low to moderate intensity workout will leave you feeling energized. A high intensity workout, on the other hand, delivers an ass-kicking.

If you’re sick, it makes sense to avoid the ass-kicking.

Let’s take a look at why.

How exercise affects the immune system

Exercise may play a role in both our innate and our adaptive immune response.

Here’s how:

  • After one prolonged vigorous exercise session we’re more susceptible to infection. For example, running a marathon may temporarily depress the adaptive immune system for up to 72 hours. This is why so many endurance athletes get sick right after races.
  • However, one brief vigorous exercise session doesn’t cause the same immune-suppressing effect. Further, just one moderate intensity exercise session can actually boost immunity in healthy folks.
  • Interestingly, chronic resistance training seems to stimulate innate (but not adaptive) immunity. While chronic moderate exercise seems to strengthen the adaptive immune system.

In the end, here’s the pattern:

  • Consistent, moderate exercise and resistance training can strengthen the immune system over time. So, by all means, train hard while you’re healthy.
  • But single high intensity or long duration exercise sessions can interferewith immune function. So take it easy when you’re feeling sick.

Exercise, stress, and immune function

A group of scientists gathering data on exercise habits and influenza found:

  • People who never exercised got sick pretty often.
  • People who exercised between once a month and three times a week did the best.
  • People who exercised more than four times a week got sick most often.

Enter the J-shaped curve theory.

In simple terms, being sedentary or exercising too much can lower immunity, while something in the middle can improve immunity.

J-curve_diagram-01

The role of stress

Exercise isn’t the only factor that affects the immune system. Stress plays a big role too.

Let’s take a look at the different stressors a  person might face on any given day.

  • Physical stress: exercise, sports, physical labor, infection, etc.
  • Psychological stress: relationships, career, financial, etc.
  • Environmental stress: hot, cold, dark, light, pollution, altitude, etc.
  • Lifestyle stress: drugs, diet, hygiene, etc.

Stress triggers an entire cascade of hormonal shifts that can result in chronic immune changes.

  • Acute stress (minutes to hours) can be beneficial to immune health.
  • Chronic stress (days to years) can be a big problem.

So, if you’re angry, worried, or scared each day for weeks, months, or even years at a time, your immunity is being compromised. And you’re more likely to get sick.

Sickness and stress

It’s pretty obvious that if you’re actually sick and fighting an infection, your immune system will already be stressed.

And if you add the stress of prolonged vigorous exercise, you might, quite simply, overload yourself. That will make you sicker.

Plus, your history of infections can influence how the immune system responds during exercise. This can include everything from the common herpes simplex virus, varicella zoster, and cytomegalovirus, to hepatitis and HIV.

A healthy body might adapt to all that. But a body that’s fighting an infection is not a healthy body.

Overtraining and infection

What’s more, sudden increases in exercise volume and/or intensity may also create new stress, potentially allowing a new virus or bacteria to take hold, again kicking off a sickness.

Consider the 1987 Los Angeles Marathon, where one out of seven marathon runners who ran became sick within a week following the race. And those training more than 60 miles per week before the race doubled their odds for sickness compared to those training less than 20 miles per week.

This seems to work the opposite way as well. Chronic infections may actually be a sign of overtraining.

Learning from cancer & HIV

Exercise therapy is often recommended for patients with cancer in part because of how it modulates the immune system. Exercise seems to increase NK cell activity and lymphocyte proliferation. In other words, it looks like exercise can be helpful.

Exercise interventions in those with HIV seem to help prevent muscle wasting, enhance cardiovascular health, and improve mood. We’re not sure how this works, though it may help to increase CD4+ cells.

Other factors affecting immunity

Besides stress, there are a host of other factors that can affect our immunity, and these can interact with exercise, either offering greater protection or making us more likely to get sick.

We’ve already touched on some of these. Here are a few more.

Age

Our innate immune response can break down as we get older. But here’s the good news: staying physically active and eating a nutritious diet can offset many of these changes.

Gender

Menstrual phase and oral contraceptive use may influence how the immune system responds to exercise. Estrogens generally enhance immunity while androgens can suppress it. (Again, this may explain why women tend to do better with colds than men.)

Sleep

Poor quality sleep and/or prolonged sleep deprivation jeopardizes immune function.

Climate

Exercising in a hot or cold environment doesn’t appear to be that much more stressful than exercising in a climate controlled environment.

For example, exercising in a slightly cool environment might boost the immune system. But full-fledged hypothermia may suppress immune function. While using a sauna or hot bath may stimulate better immunity in those with compromised immune function.

Altitude

Exposure to higher altitudes has a limited influence on immunity.

Obesity

It’s unclear exactly how obese folks respond to exercise in terms of immunity. Changes in insulin sensitivity and inflammation at rest may blunt or exaggerate their immune response to exercise.

Mood

There’s evidence that immune alterations affect mood and inflammation. Clinical depression is two to threefold higher among patients with diseases that have elevated inflammatory activity.

(Note: moderate exercise appears to act as an anti-inflammatory in those with inflammatory conditions).

IL-6

There is a theory that IL-6 (a compound released after prolonged intensive exercise) may be produced in abnormal ways in some people, leading to fatigue, flu-like symptoms, and depressed mood.

Training age

The more “trained” you are, the better your body tends to handle exercise. In other words, it’s not as much of a stressor.

Just in case you glossed over the previous sentence I’ll reiterate it: a higher level of fitness is protective as it may limit the stress response to exercise.

Textbook guidelines for exercising while sick

  • Day 1 of illness:
    Only low intensity exercise with symptoms like sore throat, coughing, runny nose, congested nose.
    No exercise at all when experiencing muscle/joint pain, headache, fever, malaise, diarrhea, vomiting.
  • Day 2 of illness:
    If body temp >37.5-38 C, or increased coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, do not exercise.
    If no fever or malaise and no worsening of “above the neck” symptoms: light exercise (pulse <120 bpm) for 30-45 minutes, by yourself, indoors if winter.
  • Day 3 of illness:
    If fever and symptoms still present: consult doctor.
    If no fever/malaise, and no worsening of initial symptoms: moderate exercise (pulse <150 bpm) for 45-60 min, by yourself, indoors.
  • Day 4 of illness:
    If no symptom relief, no exercise. Go to doctor.
    If fever and other symptoms improved, wait 24 hours, then return to exercise.
    If new symptoms appear, go to doctor.

Note: Some illnesses can indicate serious infections. So if you aren’t feeling better and recovering, see your doctor.

Also note: Ease back into exercise in proportion to the length of your sickness. If you were sick for 3 days. Take 3 days to ease back in.

Walk into any gym and you will automatically be ushered to the segments that are traditionally yours, for women, its aerobics. When women hit the gym most of the time the motive is usually to lose weight, and we have been taught that that can only happen when we do aerobic workouts and dances like Zumba. We avoid weights at all costs. I remember when I was watching Red carpet events where Lupita was to receive an Oscar. She wore a very beautiful sleeveless dress that showed her muscles, yes she looked masculine, and there were gasps of disappointment as to why a woman can decide to look like a man! As a pageant fanatic I always feel some sort of disappointment when the contestants grace the runways in their bikinis and very visible abs.

With all my phobias of not wanting to look like a body builder due to weight lifting, which is a rumor by the way, it took forever for me to actually start lifting weights, and two years down the line I even look more feminine. I had done aerobics for the longest time and lost some weight, before my weight stagnated for a while, then it decided to start piling back. At this point my instructor didn’t have to tell me twice to start lifting weights, I was desperate enough to trust him. Ill share with you the advantages of lifting weight, as a woman.

  1.  Helps in Weight Loss

So after my intense cardio for several months, the weight that I had successfully shed returned, full force. I ended up being way bigger than I was when I was joining the gym. The thing with our bodies is that they quickly adapt t circumstances to return to normalcy. Of course engaging in cardio jump started the body hence the calories I was burning was more than the ones I was consuming, so I lost weight, a lot. Then guess what, my body started getting used to my new routine, the workout, to the point that calories were no longer lost. My metabolism started dropping altogether leading to stagnation, wait, and weight gain.

As shocking as it may sound, concurrently having cardio and weight training is exactly the magic portion to effective weight loss. The body cannot fully adapt to these frequent changes.

  • Increased Calorie Expenditure

One thing I experienced during my weight training workouts is that I kept hydrating all through the day. I also had my roll on in hand, as I was hot the whole day. Research has it that Vigorous weight training actually boosts your metabolic rate throughout the day, which in turn makes you more efficient at burning body-fat when you’re not exercising. It appears that the primary mechanism for this is increased mitochondria in cells, via a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis. Your weight training doesn’t end at the end of your gym session; your body will still be working out long after hence increasing your chances of actually losing weight.

  • Shape your curves.

No offence but long distance runners aren’t the curviest. Cardio workouts literally reduce your body mass, and yes, you will look skinny, but flat. Try running for very long periods of time without weight work outs; you may lose several inches of your curves. This is not what we want. An ideal feminine body is mostly curvy; hence women even go for the knife to increase their bust size and glutes. Now this is very important for anyone looking to be skinny while remaining curvy, weight workouts. Do your squats with barbells, your glutes will be unbelievably big. There are so many workouts that help in building curve muscles.  Cardio mostly burn out your curves in the long run. Curves are built by building muscle which only happens in weight workouts.

  • More energy throughout the day.

Anyone who works out knows that you feel tired for the next 24 hours. Woe unto you if you prefer working out in the evenings, waking up the next day will be a tall order. The few times that I did intense cardio, I could hardly get out of bed. My operations for the whole day were badly affected. I missed meetings and hardly met deadlines. It’s better if you do cardio in the morning. For your evening or morning workouts, pick weight training. It has n fatigue attached to it. In fact, it produces some feel good hormones which makes one feel great and have high self esteem. Studies show that the heavy weight exercise protocols appear to greatly increase plasma beta-endorphin concentration, which in turn modulates mood in a positive manner. Cardio can be exhausting. It’s normal to feel flat after cardio. The burnout is real and one may just push themselves to finish a one hour class.

  • Better Heart Health

The heart is indeed a muscle (a smooth muscle) and it can be trained much like skeletal muscle. Most females assume that aerobic exercise is inherently the best way to train the heart and improve blood lipid profiles. While that is true, combining aerobic exercise with weight training actually has been shown to do those factors just as effectively, if not even more.

Not only does weight training reduce Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL), which is often referred to as “unhealthy” cholesterol, but also it elevates serum values of high-density lipoproteins (which is “healthy” cholesterol)

  • Improves Mental Health

One reason I joined the gym was because of my low self image. I didn’t just look fat, I felt fat. When we ladies feel that way we quickly enroll to a cardio class which is very exhausting by the way, we will lose the fat but will be extremely exhausted in the process.  Research shows that weight training releases the feel good hormones Oxytocin. The heavy weight exercise protocols appear to greatly increase plasma beta-endorphin concentration, which in turn modulates mood in a positive manner. You will automatically feel sexy after lifting some weights.

  • Strong Bones

Inactivity causes fragile bones. In fact Osteoporosis and osteopenia are becoming more and more common in females (both young and old), which can likely be attributed to physical inactivity and lack of load-bearing exercises. Physical activity increases bone mass hence increasing its density and preventing fractures. Weight training is one way of creating resistance and preventing degenerating of bones.

  • Increased Libido

Weight training actually increases testosterone. I said it! But this is very far from what many women fear, No you will not look masculine, especially if you don’t overdo it or even take supplements. We have estrogen but testosterone is the hormone that increases libido and improves one’s sex life. Weight training triggers the production of testosterone weight training should be the focus; don’t worry, you won’t magically get “bulky” overnight just because you start lifting more.

In a nutshell, while cardio is good especially if you want to reduce body mass, weight training should be the focus; don’t worry; you won’t magically get “bulky” overnight just because you start lifting more

Deload Week

Deload week is just taking a break from continuous intensive training. In detail, it is reducing the intensity of weekly training and volume of workouts.

Let’s say you are on a routine of five workouts in a week summing to 70 to 80 reps of heavy and strenuous weightlifting, a deload week might cut on the number of reps (volume) by half so that the deload week you will have a sum of 35 to 4o reps. Or it might also mean that you reduce the intensity of workout to 50 to 60 percent instead of 80 to 90%.

Deloading serves four vital purposes which includes; managing psychological stress, reducing joint and ligament strain, reducing the accumulated fatigue on central nervous system, and reducing the injury risks. Lastly but not as vital as the other four is that deload week helps reduce demands placed by muscles.

How Necessary Is Deload Week?

Deloading bases its necessity on science by defining how the body cushions the physical stress that accumulates within. For example, it provides a stimulus during exercise, removes the stimulus during rest and recovery and body undergoes adaptation to deal with the next stimulus better. This adaptation is called super-compensation. It allows your body to gain muscle and strength.

Why Deload Workouts Do Not Work

With a weak stimulus your body is likely to produce very weak results, that is, low super-compensatory response. Powerful stimuli, oppositely from weaker stimuli, is likely to produce powerful results, that is, a high super-compensatory response. We can measure the stimulus of training in qualitative and quantitative concepts. In qualitative concept, stimulus is the intensity or amount of weight lifted, progressive overload and metabolic stress of the workouts while in quantitative concepts, stimulus is the frequency and volume and of training or it may be how many sets and reps you for each muscle group per week.

Knowledge behind deloading maintains that the core of body composition and performance improvement over long periods of time is to push your body slightly beyond its limits regularly (overreaching method) and then backing off from the process in short periods after intensive days (deloading). Though, many people still don’t do this. Rather, they rush through the motions in their training. They fail to track their numbers and unsoberly strive to arise above the previous workouts in a vague competition mode. They as well fail to strictly follow their diets to deliver them their desired achievement. Unfortunately, deloading may not work with them.

With guys not following a well-programmed training routine that supports and reinforces the progressive overload and overreaching. Also if you do not strive as much as possible to make this happen, your deload is bound to fail.  If you keenly follow on the training program designed and work hard to improve in your workouts, you have a heap of benefits. Let alone that, you are basically ready to deload. Note that if your training programme gives no room for deloading periods, then it means that it is sub-standard training, or sub-optimal.

My Deloading Reasons

I never experienced any suggestive danger symptoms on my long, high rep workouts which would go for four to six months without a deload week. The only breaks I took were of traveling or work. But later in my journey of fitness, I had experienced the transformative power of heavy and compound weightlifting.  I learnt very few but quick lessons that certain workouts accrues a much more strain or stress in the body. In a few weeks’ time, I noticed strange aches and pains in my joints, reduced levels of energy, reduced zeal to train and a heaviness feeling during the workout. I learnt that there was a solution, yes. To take some rest from the straining work – deload week.

From that time, I had known how to give my body rest from tedious workout. I would then alternate a deload week with 8 to 10 weeks of heavy workout – I had found my deload routine. The deload routines are very necessary and refreshing. They preserved my strength a great deal. I can take the deload week and come back much stronger than before.

Deload Frequency
Plan a deload week after every 8 to 10 weeks of heavy and intense training. With calorie-deficit guys, reduce deloading to once after every 6 to 8 weeks. Continue training heavily when in a calorie deficit condition. Age and history one has in training is also a determinant of how often one should deload. At the age of 40 years and above, one may need to give attention to recovery processes before wearing off his body strength. If you train harder as guys in their 20s, your recovery may be so slow.

Also, new weightlifters need to deload less frequently than the known veteran weightlifters. The new weightlifters may go even to 10 months before deloading and it is okay. But, as they progress in training, workouts are likely to intensify in weight moved, confidence to reach your limits and willingness to brave on. All this creates more stress on the body and deloading becomes very required. New weightlifters can just put a strict deload week and stick to it even when they feel worse. It does ensure that one does not roll over to overtraining.

How About Effect of A Rest Week?

When you deload, your body replenishes and you get back energized. Attempt a deload week note how you feel being back onto the program. Analyze your body in that first week of coming back from a deload week; how does it feel? Then do the same in the next week. Remember to choose a workout that suits your body best.

However, you cannot lose muscles by staying away completely from the weights. It might take several weeks of inactivity for someone to lose muscles.

What About Cardio on a Deload Week?

You might do cardio yes, but remember the goal of the week is to reduce on muscle stress, joint stress, ligaments stress, and stress on central nervous system. However you need to know that too much of high intensity cardio type will not help you reduce on the general body stress. Just keep walking and light physical activity as you can.

Diet for the Deload Week

What you eat is determined by what you do with your body during the week of deloading. If you are on a nutrition plan of dieting to lose fats, then maintain the calorie deficit while on deloading week. Do not worry about losing muscles or having worse side effect surprises, because it is not going to happen.

If you are on a plan to gain muscles, maintain a slight amount of calorie surplus. If your objective is to gain muscles or maximize muscle growth, don’t run into a diet deficit on the download week – it is not necessary. You may have no fats to reduce in the first place. It is therefore wise to just continue the muscle building process.

For that monotony of eating a bunch of food, try setting TDEE for the deload week and make a refreshing break of gastrointestinal and psychological excess usage.

Summary

Deload week is very essential rest-period for a remarkable long-term progress and results. It completely minimizes strenuous overtraining, fatigue, injury and the most induced burnouts. Without deloading in your training schedule, you are training on a rough sketch without professional back-up. You are overtraining unaware. This is danger or damage creeping in unaware.

Many women have the expectation of regaining wonderfully looking bodies immediately after giving birth, especially if they didn’t add excess weight as they ate for two. This issue actually affects women more than you can imagine. It took reality TV star Kim Kardashian a very long time to get back on in public because she felt insecure, put into consideration that this is a billionaire who can afford any product and the best fitness advisors. Yet, even if mums make postpartum exercise and diet a priority, new mothers may take some longer time for the belly to be back to normal size. Such events can make some to feel the insufficiency and think they are failures.

What women need to accept is that when getting back into the routine of postpartum exercise, new mothers have to practice patience and be realistic. The formation of the pregnant body took approximately 40 weeks, and it may take longer to get back to normalcy during the pre-pregnancy period.  Whether you underwent quick labor, a longer one or through the surgical process; the body experiences a huge change to expel a baby. That’s is related to the reason that the tummy grows and the uterus enlarges to accommodate the baby.

A woman’s uterus grows to make more room for the baby that is growing, and so it broadens over the pubic bone, and the abdomen is pushed out during pregnancy. Can you believe that women can look up to six months pregnant after giving birth, not all, I mean each woman has her own journey influenced by many factors including the age of woman, the baby’s size, the delivery method and her weight before the period of getting pregnant — can affect the time it takes for the shrinking of her bump to shrink, as well. The uterus can also contract due to the process of breastfeeding. But generally we are counting like six months.

1) Go slow

It’s not an emergency, rest, especially if you had a caesarian delivery. The process of giving birth is not to be overviewed as an easy task even the fittest moms need to proceed with caution. After a C-section and on the process of recovering, you ought to defer a cycle until after you undergo the first post-operative check. Establish with your doctor that there is proper closing of the skin, and that you are cleared and ready for a walking routine. Don’t panic, you won’t just be walking forever especially if you used to enjoy your cardio, once your wounds are fully healed and the Obsgyn gives a go ahead you can proceed to more intense work outs, step by step.

A problem that new mums encounter is that every few minutes they are aware from their babies they feel anxious or like they aren’t bonding enough. You can actually stroll with the baby for the 5- 7 minute walks.

2) Wait for the bleeding to stop.

This is even self explanatory. Yes you want your sexy back but your health is more important than the thin waist line, which you will get back, eventually, after the bleeding stops. At times women rush back to heavy duties because it seems like the bleeding has actually stopped, just to tear up again and get new stitches. At times going hard can take you back to where you were; don’t frustrate your healing process.

3) Go slow when breast feeding.

Nutritionists say that one way to lose weight after delivery is to breastfeed, exclusively. The bodily functions and even milk formation can take a toll on the body. Calories naturally burn during all these bodily processes leading to weight loss. Not much but yes, you lose some weight. It is advised that during this period you eat healthy, clean and take a lot of healthy fluids, as you will be eating for two.

Eventually when the recovery process is over and the body is operating normally, you can start small. Otherwise going hard on the workout and dieting will not only fatigue you, affecting you psychologically; you may slow down your healing process.

4) Check your pelvic floor.

Kegels are always recommended for those who have undergone natural child birth. Kegels strengthens your pelvic floor hence preventing incontinence which affects most mums. While it’s treatable, it can affects one’s self esteem not to be able to hold their bladders before soiling themselves. Kegels are a must have for every new mum who has undergone natural delivery.

Also, stay away from some workouts that can affect your pelvic floor; like crunches and squats, at least start with your kegels, and incorporate the rest after being given the go ahead by your obsgyn.

5)  Repair Diastatis

It’s quite normal for most new mums to experience back pains and aches in their abdominal muscles. The best way to deal with this is to go for regular checkups and even physiotherapy if recovery takes longer. Don’t panic though, this comes with pregnancy and can be cured.

6) Check for Wobbly Joints

Ligaments and joints are usually softened during pregnancy by a chemical called relaxin. It usually gets expelled from the body after child birth. The chemical is usually important for pregnancy and childbirth to soften the ligaments to allow mobility and reduce joint pains caused by stiffness. Unfortunately this chemical can also overstay its visit, this should be checked as it can make one wobbly hence affecting your fitness and metabilosm.

7) Do post partum exercises

There re so many mama friendly post partum exercises that you can engage in that will not put you at risk of tearing or delaying your recovery process. Swimming will always be an option. Also, walks rarely cause harm to the new mothers as it is very effective while mild. You can do it for longer periods as well while bonding with the baby. Speak of hitting two birds with one stone.

8) Stay Hydrated

As your body is going through so many processes like milk formation, stay hydrated to replace the lost fluids. Taking lots of water also helps in detoxing which is very necessary at this point. It flushes out toxins in the body through urine.

9) Rest UP

Most mums say that those who say they slept like a baby don’t have one, as babies like waking up making it almost impossible for the mum herself to sleep. Stay rested as much as you can as balancing all the tips we have listed above can take a toll on the mum and she needs some beauty sleep. Enjoy motherhood.

Post-workout recovery is a topic of consideration for any one determined weightlifter or athlete or bodybuilder. Workout go with enormous amount of energy and muscle strength that it ought to be followed by a quick catalyst to recover the normal body functions.

Nevertheless, there are lots of existing information on internet, both helpful and destructive. They need to be carefully examined before any instruction can be followed to the latter. Importantly, we are updated on every latest research on training techniques that enable muscle growth and bodybuilding. We have also gotten access to many ways of quick post-workout recovery.

Bigger challenge is to identify the very beneficial information to ascertain effective recovery after workout. Useful information will not leave the readers and those practicing in suspense or in danger, it will rather deliver them to the promised land.

This article enlightens you on recent tips and techniques of speeding the muscle recovery. The following are the indispensable habits that will enhance your muscle’s fast recovery:

1. Balance the micros and the macros

People will always give much concentration on macro-nutrients and nearly forget the micro-nutrients. Macros have the major three energy-focused groups which are proteins, fats and carbohydrates. There is also a method of dieting in the society circles known as If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). In a simple but understandable language, it is flexible dieting, meaning an easy way to eat healthfully considering every calorie requirement with measuring or weighing.

Training has a high demand of micronutrient. Concentrating too much on macronutrients might mean a deficiency in one or more nutrients required by the body. This is falling short of the required standards or rules of sports nutrition or with the right term, ‘nutrition ignorance’.

According to one of researches, it established that improving the quality of your diet (not just macronutrient intake) will improve the body composition. In sportspersons, having a nutrient-dense diet gives you an optimum recovery process of the muscle and greatly improves the performance. While, dwelling on junk foods (mostly tempting) might deprive your body from receiving essential micronutrients such as vitamins, zinc, magnesium, potassium, sodium among others. Most junk foods have high fats and carbohydrates but less micronutrients. However, we are not suggesting that you kick them out by the door, no. They are foodstuffs high in energy and building units.

When you are going to be better during and after workout, choose nutrition of high quality. High quality nutrition involves a nutrition-dense diet with both macronutrients and micronutrients balanced and with equity measurements in respect to the body requirements. Long time micronutrient sources have been known to be from vegetables and fruits. However, we also have them overlapping in protein sources such as poultry and poultry products, fish and fish products, eggs and eggs products, and pulses products. But on ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ (IIFYM), you can also have rich candy bar only if it might ‘fit’ your body composition.

When you are in a cutting down plan, you don’t need much macros, instead you might need more micronutrients. The main role of the micronutrients is that it enhances or promotes hormonal and metabolic functions during reduced-calorie diets. Also, the body glands such as hypothalamus of the brain and pituitary gland require more micronutrients to perform effectively. In a sports guy, it is more recommended not to lock out micronutrients for the needs of these body organs that need continuous delivery of micronutrients catalysis.

2. Increase Carbohydrates Intake Before and After Workouts

Rules of workouts here is that you increase carbohydrate intake before and after workout sessions. Carbohydrate is a fuel to catalyze the energy requiring processes of workouts. At least, most people on sports, be it weightlifting or athletics have a slight knowledge on pre- and post- workout nutrition. They know they need more energy in between the training sessions in order to reduce fatigue.

Fatigue is caused when the amount of glycogen in the muscles is consumed. When you have undergone fatigue, it means the amount of glycogen in your body that you started with training was lesser than it could aid in fueling training. In this case, you are not likely to adjust to recovery speedily or for a better performance. It is better to consume enough carbohydrates on pre-training periods to increase the glycogen stores. Just ensure that the carbohydrate source you are using will prime your body for quick recovery and great performance. You can choose to take mashed potatoes in case you are avoiding sugar diets. Gluten-free options are also better, especially if your system does not tolerate gluten.

After any workout, you need higher carbohydrate consumption. This is because when you weightlift, for example, you will be increasing release of a glucose enzyme. This enzyme will in turn improve action of insulin and better the glycogen storage process after the supposed vigorous exercise.

Note: Don’t increase carbohydrate intake when you are not perform a workout. Simply, the fact that you increase your carb intake during the workout does not mean that you need to be taking carbohydrates the whole day or all the time. Otherwise, you are going for weight adding which might hamper your performance in the long run.

3. Sleep More

Lack of sleep has its own derogatory effects. It causes some hormonal shifts or disturbance which impair certain vital functions of the body. A study showed that loss of sleep inhibit metabolism by increasing the levels of ghrelin (hunger hormone), reducing sensitivity of insulin, and increasing the gut inflammation.

Everywhere, people are so engrossed on little sleep to take on their important concerns. Some even drug to become awake in most nights (take more of caffeine). Surprisingly, this is also observed amongst the people on fitting and weightlifting. Some avoid sleep to continue with their workouts.

This should not be the practice with those undergoing training. They need to sleep adequately to meet their intended goals. Otherwise, they are likely to introduce health risks due to hormonal disturbances. Their bodies finally lose ability to recover from a workout.

You will only have a fast recovery and better performance if you adapt a quality sleep. Sleep like a professional sleeper! Don’t use any substance or blue light to induce or inhibit your sleep. Create an environment good for your sleeping. You will experience improvements in everything pertaining your body functions and workouts if you control the quality and quantity of your sleep.

4. Be Careful With Your Digestive Health

At times, bloating results from the effect of inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It is always not appealing fighting the symptoms of GI abnormalities such as digestive discomfort, fluid accumulation in the gut, bloating and rashes. When there is any stress to the digestive system, the level of hormone that is needed for glucose uptake (thyroid) is steeply reduced. The end of this is that you hamper muscle growth or become much leaner.

Certain carbohydrate sources as corn, dairy, gluten and soy are known to be immunogenic (induce allergic responses). Many people are always sensitive to these food products and they are likely affected by minor gastrointestinal inflammation issues. Many lifters, for example, don’t have idea that they have GI disorders until they experience serious GI inflammation.

You can eliminate foods that induce inflammation in your gut (call them gut-friendly foods) as a careful consideration for the healthiness of you GI tract. Most of them don’t even contribute to muscle-building. It is even better to completely do without them. A list of food examples that eliminate this inflammation and suggested for GI health include herbs, garlic, coconut oil, probiotics and green leafy vegetables. They are known for reducing the digestive stress. Final result they will deliver to you is improving your performance, enhance your post-workout recovery and build your aesthetics.

If you are fitting you need to take the low carbohydrate foods which might reduce the cases of gastrointestinal stress. But simple and safer method is just to eliminate foods which induce the inflammation.

Training with gut problems is very difficult and might impair every performance target or recovery process. Take caution to do the necessary for good health of your GI tract.

Summary

Firstly, make sure that your diet is rich in micro and macronutrients. Quality in foods consumed will effect to quality in recovery and performance. Secondly, be keen on refueling your body by maintaining rich pre- and post-workout diet. Have a great glycogen reservoir before the workout for quick body recovery and better performance. Thirdly, have adequate. Sleep in the best environment and for a good quantity of time to stabilize your hormones and body functions. Lastly, avoid any gut issues that may inhibit efficiency of the body to utilize and perform in workouts. Eliminate all allergic or immunogenic foods that may cause digestive stress.

Testosterone is the main male sex hormone, but females also have small amounts of it. It is a steroid hormone, produced in men’s testicles and women’s ovaries .The adrenal glands also produce small amounts.

Production increases during puberty and starts to decrease after age 30.

For each year over age 30, the level of testosterone in men starts to slowly dip at a rate of around 1 percent per year. A decrease in testosterone level is a natural result of aging. As men age, they can experience a number of symptoms related to sexual function that may be a result of lowered levels of this hormone.

These include:

  • Reduced desire for sex
  • fewer erections that happen spontaneously, such as during sleep
  • infertility

Erectile dysfunction (ED) is not commonly caused by low testosterone production. In cases where ED accompanies lower testosterone production, hormone replacement therapy may help your ED.

A number of physical changes can happen to your body if you have low testosterone levels. Testosterone is sometimes referred to as the “male” hormone. It helps increase muscle mass, leads to body hair, and contributes to an overall masculine form.

Decreases in testosterone can lead to physical changes as well including the following:

  • increased body fat
  • decreased strength/mass of muscles
  • fragile bones
  • decreased body hair
  • swelling/tenderness in the breast tissue
  • hot flashes
  • increased fatigue
  • effects on cholesterol metabolism

Even if you don’t have sleep apnea, low testosterone can still contribute to a decrease in the hours of sleep. Researchers aren’t yet sure why this happens. In addition to causing physical changes, having low levels of testosterone can affect you on an emotional level. The condition can lead to feelings of sadness or depression.

Testosterone is a hormone that affects emotional regulation. Depression has been linked to men with low testosterone. This could result from a combination of the irritability, decreased sex drive, and fatigue that can come with low testosterone.

In this article, we list the best foods for increasing testosterone levels. We also describe products to avoid and other ways to increase testosterone production.

  1. Egg Yolks

Egg yolks are known to contain a large amount of vitamin D.  Vitamin D is a nutrient that helps the body absorbs calcium. It’s important for the health of bones, the immune system, and many other body functions. Egg yolks are a rich source of vitamin D and cholesterol and since testosterone is synthesized from cholesterol it is a good option when not in risk of pressure of cholesterol related complications.

  • Low Fat Milk

Milk is a great source of protein and calcium.  Milk is also high in Vitamin D. 

Consuming milk fortified with vitamin D is another good way to enhance your testosterone levels. The vitamin D in the milk, as we are aware, helps in this aspect

You can have a glass of milk every morning. You can also add it to your breakfast cereal. One thing to note is to make sure the milk you choose is specifically fortified with Vitamin D.  The good thing is you don’t even have to drink whole milk you can drink skim or low-fat and still get all the same nutrients and benefits.  Plus, you will get much less saturated fat with these alternatives.

You can get your pack of milk from your nearest supermarket store.

  • Fortified Cereals

Consuming cereals fortified with vitamin D is also a good way to boost testosterone levels. The cereals contain other healthy nutrients as well that help jump-start your day. Have the cereals as part of your regular morning breakfast.

  • Beef

Beef is another great source of vitamin D that boosts testosterone levels. Venison (deer meat) is rich in protein, just like most meat foods, and is important for testosterone. Inadequate protein can increase the levels of certain hormones in the body that can deactivate testosterone.

But be wary of beef – as it contains more fat than most meaty foods. Choose lean cuts of beef and avoid eating beef every day.

  • Tuna

Tuna is another source of Vitamin D. These fish are rich in vitamin D, a nutrient linked to testosterone production It is also good for the heart and very low in calories. It really doesn’t matter if you choose to eat tuna from a can or fresh from the sea, this is a great source to turn to for boosting your testosterone. Just remember to consume everything in moderation too much of any one thing can be bad.

  • Beans

White, kidney, and black beans, all are considered sources of vitamin D and zinc. One more bonus is these foods are full of plant-based proteins which can help with heart health. Make beans a part of your regular evening salad.

  • Shellfish and Oysters

Oysters are high in Zinc, which is an essential nutrient which aids development during puberty. Since oysters are exceptionally high sources of the mineral zinc, they will help ensure you are getting the Zinc needed to keep testosterone levels nice and high

  • Garlic

Studies have shown that eating garlic can have proliferative and restorative effects on serum testosterone levels. It’s thought that this is due to a chemical in garlic known as daily sulfide. If you like to spice things up then adding garlic to your meals can help increase your foods flavor profile as well as provide testosterone boosting benefits. The reason is garlic contains allicin, a compound that lowers levels of Cortisol.  Some nutritionists say that Cortisol competes with Testosterone within the muscles.  So eliminating Cortisol might be the key to boosting Testosterone.  One thing to note is garlic is most potent when eaten raw. You can simply garnish your dishes with roasted garlic. Consuming one garlic clove a day can also help.

  • Olive Oil

Olive oil contains healthy fats, which, as per some sources, may boost testosterone levels. A weekly dose of olive oil could be better than Viagra at helping boost a man’s performance in the bedroom, new research suggests.

Scientists from the University of Athens says just nine tablespoons of the popular condiment is enough to reduce impotence by around 40 per cent. Olive oil can also help dramatically increase testosterone levels, which reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction, which is the inability to get and maintain an erection sufficient for sexual intercourse.