We can often underestimate the impact that hormones and its mechanisms can have on an athlete’s performance both on and off the field. Hormones such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and testosterone are potent catalysts for promoting protein synthesis and muscle growth, putting the athlete in an anabolic state. On the other hand, there are hormones like Cortisol that can be extremely detrimental to the individual, potentially putting them into a catabolic state. This can lead to the breakdown of muscle tissue for the body to utilize as energy.

Therefore, it is imperative for coaches to be knowledgeable of the variables that induce and manipulate the desired hormonal response. One of the primary factors that dictate the hormonal response is the amount of mental and physical stress that the athlete experiences on a daily basis. Take a collegiate athlete for example, he or she has a very rigid schedule of attending class, practice, meetings, and lifts among other things on daily basis. These are known quantities that demand attention and will stress anyone to varying degrees. So essential tools for recovery such as sleep and perhaps even food are likely the first things to be sacrificed. This leads to their performance variables to have a more undulating nature to them than anything static or linear.

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Our job as their coaches is to make that extra effort, figure out how well our athlete’s mind and body is operating on a daily basis, and adjust the programming accordingly. The goal here is to maximize the desired outcome or effect, which in this case is either increasing or maintaining our athlete’s performance on the field.

Patrick Estes, Strength and Conditioning Coach at PE Training Systems gives further insight on the body’s hormonal response to stress and how we can manipulate it to maximize athletic performance on the video below.

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