In this post we’ll find out how catabolism plays a significant role in weight training.
In this article:
- A Closer Look at Catabolism and Anabolism
- Catabolism vs Anabolism: How Do These Processes Affect Weight Training?
- Understanding the Differences Between Catabolic vs Anabolic Exercises
- How to Avoid Catabolism
What Does Catabolism Do for Those Who Are Bulking Up?
A Closer Look at Catabolism and Anabolism
Building lean muscle mass can be challenging. The process can become even more difficult if you engage in the wrong types of exercises. Believe it or not, certain exercises can make building muscle harder. Choosing the wrong exercise regimen can reverse all the benefits of your weight training routine and actually start breaking down the muscle you’ve built.
Understanding the differences between catabolism vs anabolism is key to preserving the results of your weight training. Here’s what you need to know about the two as well as the different exercises that can trigger a catabolic reaction.
Catabolism vs Anabolism: How Do These Processes Affect Weight Training?
Your body’s metabolism has two different processes: anabolism and catabolism. Anabolism means “building up” while catabolism means “breaking down.” What does that mean?
Your anabolic metabolism (or anabolism) works to build new tissues and compounds. This includes muscle. This process uses amino acids and proteins to build more complex molecules. Energy is burned through anabolism. Anabolism is the cornerstone of weight training and is necessary to build lean muscle mass.
Catabolic metabolism (or catabolism) works in the reverse. Instead of building complex tissues and compounds from simple molecules, catabolism breaks down complex molecules in the body. Energy is released in the process. The body relies on catabolism when energy is needed. Sustained cardiovascular exercises such as marathon running can result in catabolism. Catabolism breaks down both muscle tissue and body fat in order to produce energy for the body.
In short, both anabolic and catabolic metabolism processes lead to the loss of fat over time. Anabolism will build lean muscle mass while body fat is broken down, while catabolism will break down both lean muscle tissue and body fat at the same time. This is why it’s important for anyone looking to build muscle to avoid going into catabolism.
Understanding the Differences Between Catabolic vs Anabolic Exercises
One of the most important ways to avoid inadvertently entering catabolism is to understand the difference between catabolic and anabolic exercises. Most aerobic or cardiovascular exercises are catabolic. Weight training routines are anabolic.
Cardio exercises such as biking, swimming and running that involve a steady exertion for a longer period of time are most likely to trigger catabolism. Catabolic exercises make your blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rise. The body uses glycogen as fuel during catabolic exercises. If these carbohydrate stores run out, the hormone cortisol will trigger your body to begin breaking down muscle mass.
Weight lifting and weight training exercises help promote an anabolic state. Engaging in weight training at least three to four days a week can help keep you in an anabolic state and maintain muscle.
Keep in mind that catabolic exercises have a role to play in overall health even if they can negatively affect muscle growth. Cardiovascular exercises are important for maintaining a healthy heart and lungs. There is evidence that choosing exercises that combine anabolic and catabolic processes can help provide cardiovascular benefits while maintaining muscle. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is a good option.
How to Avoid Catabolism
By now it should be clear why you want to avoid catabolism while weight training. What steps can you take to ensure that you don’t enter a catabolic state?
First, make sure that you eat a proper diet. This means three main things when you are trying to stay in an anabolic state. You must make sure that you eat more calories than you burn. The timing of when you eat is equally important. Try to spread out your meals throughout the day. Don’t concentrate your calories into three meals spaced far apart. Instead, aim to eat every three hours with five to eight total meals per day.
The exact nutrients you eat must also be balanced in order to promote anabolism. Carbohydrates should comprise 50 to 60 percent of your diet. Complex carbs such as whole grains are the best choice. You should avoid simple, high-sugar carbs like white bread as much as possible. Fats such as nuts, fish and olive oil should make up 25 to 30 percent of your diet. Protein should account for 20 to 25 percent of your daily intake. Make sure you get the right amount of vitamins and minerals as well. You should also aim for one to one and a half gallons of water daily.
Second, don’t over-train. It can be tempting to spend hours weight training in the gym. This can actually be counterproductive if your goal is to build lean muscle. Your workout sessions should be no longer than 45 to 60 minutes. This includes warm-up and stretching. Longer workouts can cause your body to release cortisol. As we mentioned above, cortisol tells your body to break down muscle tissue for energy and can trigger catabolism.
Third, make sure to eat a pre-workout meal. The energy provided by this meal can help stop your body from having a catabolic reaction to produce energy. This meal should have a good balance of carbohydrates and protein. A whey protein shake or powdered creatine in a sugary drink are good choices.
Lastly, plan for a proper recovery. It’s during the recovery period that your muscles can grow and repair. Stretching after weight training is important for recovery and preventing injury. Sleep is critical for building lean muscle mass. Try to get six to eight hours of sleep every night. Your body also needs a break from your weight training routine. Take two or three days off from exercise every week. Some experts recommend taking an entire week off from training every two to three months to further help your muscles recover.
Discover the anabolic-catabolic cycles of life. Watch this video from YO ELLIOTT-STRENGTH CAMP:
Understanding catabolism vs anabolism is critical for ensuring that all your hard work in the gym isn’t wasted. Luckily, it isn’t difficult to avoid catabolism if you understand these basic principles. Just keep three things in mind as you weight train: eat well, avoid over-stressing your body and make sure that your body gets enough time to rest and recover.
Are you working out to bulk up or to cut? How will this information help you reach your weight training goals? Let’s talk about it below in the comments section.