Thursday, February 28, 2013

How Alcohol Affects Your Fitness

The American Athletic Institute has conducted studies of alcohol use and athlete/human performance. Get ready. Here are some of the findings:

Training Effect
Every time you get drunk, you lose approximately 2 weeks (14 days) of training effect. That's right, one night of drinking and two weeks of training effect is erased. You are wasting your time and your hard work in the gym. Weekends make you WEAK.

Training Hormones
Alcohol suppresses your training hormones for up to four days. Basically you are at practice but the hormones you need to gain training effect and condition are not. You can train but no real improvement comes.

Performance Potential
The effect of recent drinking (especially heavy drinking) lowers your performance potential by 11.4 percent before you even hit the gym or field of play.

Muscles
Lactic acid levels, which fatigue your muscles, increases much earlier and primary muscles that you depend on shut down or are slower and weaker.

Lungs
You will not be able to catch your breath during breaks in activity. Your breathing rate will be very high and you will hyperventilate or lose control of your breathing. Your lungs are trying to get oxygen to your working muscles and clear carbon dioxide from your system but they are compromised.

Heart
Your heart rate will be much higher and over time your cardiac output will decrease.
The oxygen rich blood will not reach your working muscles. The lactic acid will build up in the muscles and you will slow down and be weaker.

Muscle Fuels
Normally we can reload our muscles with fuels (glycogen) in 8-12 hours, but after drinking it can be 16-24 hours; that means is can take twice as long.

Recovery
Normal recovery from maximal stress is 24 hours, but after drinking, it can be 48-96 hours. Do the math.

Dehydration
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it makes you urinate. This one is easy to understand. Most people are chronically dehydrated it is. Alcohol makes the problem worse.

Muscle Repair
When we train muscle is damaged. We repair it by making protein into new fibers. Drinking slows down this repair process. It is in your speed muscles (fast twitch) that this process is most reduced.

Reflex
Alcohol affects reaction time and hand-eye coordination, which are two of the most important functions in physical activities. Think you can maximize a kettlebell swing with slow reflexes? 

Conclusion
Alcohol is a metabolic poison, clear and simple. It affects the entire body and all body systems, especially those that control high performance. No serious fitness enthusiast or athlete should use alcohol. I recommend that you eliminate it (if you use it) or reduce it to sparingly for best fitness results and effective program progression.

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