Smoking and bodybuilding
The fact remains that among many bodybuilders there are smokers who are not able to quit this deadly habit. Almost everyone knows how smoking affects health, but many are interested in the question of what effect smoking has on the results in bodybuilding and power sports.
In this article, we will fully analyze all the effects of smoking and nicotine in terms of their properties with respect to anabolism, the prospects for successful body building and muscle gain.
Impact of smoking in bodybuilding
The effect of smoking, as proven by numerous studies, is unhealthy and has an absolutely negative effect on the results of bodybuilding.
- About 15% of smoker’s blood contains poisonous gas carbon monoxide instead of oxygen. And oxygen is one of the most important components for muscle nutrition, new cell construction and recovery. During training, the muscles of the smoker do not receive the necessary amount of oxygen. Which affects the endurance and volume of the workout as a whole. Replacing oxygen with carbon monoxide prevents the full recovery and nutrition of muscle tissue after strength training, impaired absorption of nutrients, including protein, which is key in bodybuilding. Not only muscles, but also the brain suffer from a lack of oxygen during smoking. The concentration decreases when performing strength exercises, the athlete becomes lethargic, sports excitement falls.
- The second point that you should pay attention to when smoking in bodybuilding is that nicotine causes a narrowing of blood vessels, the heart in response begins to work at an accelerated rate. It is enough for a smoker to smoke 1 cigarette so that his heart rate increases by 15-20 beats per minute. Vasoconstriction deprives the muscle of full nutrition, which negatively affects both during training and after it, when muscle tissue needs full recovery and supercompensation – the second phase of recovery after training, during which there is an increase in strength and performance, which can increase by 10% up to 20% of the initial level.
- Smoking in bodybuilding significantly reduces the activity of muscle protein synthesis, which was proved by scientists at the University of Nottingham. This fact does not need more detailed explanations – non-smoking athletes progress much faster than smokers.
And that is not all…
- It has been proved that the level of myostatin in the blood of smokers is significantly increased. It is a peptide synthesized inside the body that inhibits the growth and differentiation of muscle tissue. Myostatin is formed in the muscles and then secreted into the bloodstream, exerting its effect on the muscles. Animal studies show that blocking the action of myostatin leads to a significant increase in lean muscle mass with an almost complete absence of body fat. Thus, with smoking and bodybuilding, elevated myostatin levels simply inhibit muscle growth.
- Smoking also increases the level of the enzyme MAFbx in the athlete’s body. This is an enzyme that accelerates the destruction of muscle tissue due to the breakdown of proteins. It becomes much more difficult and problematic for smokers to gain weight.
- Carcinogens and carbon monoxide – an integral component of smoking – block growth hormone (human growth hormone). This hormone has a pronounced anabolic and anti-catabolic effect. Growth hormone secretion decreases steadily with age. It is minimal in the elderly, in which both the baseline level and the frequency and amplitude of the secretion peaks decrease. The basic level of growth hormone is maximum in early childhood, the amplitude of the peaks of secretion is maximum in adolescents during the period of intensive linear growth and puberty.
- In addition, one should not forget that nicotine causes the release of catecholamines and cortisol, which destroy muscles. Cortisol is the main catabolic hormone that breaks down proteins, promotes the accumulation of fat. And it also increases blood glucose levels. Therefore, many sports supplements and drugs are designed to reduce the effect of cortisol and trigger anabolism.
What we have?
Above, we have listed seven main reasons why smoking in bodybuilding slows down performance, affects progress and absolutely negatively affects strength indicators and muscle growth. And these are only those effects that are directly related to bodybuilding.
Smoking is one of the main reasons for the development of many fatal diseases. According to WHO statistics, about 6 million people worldwide die from it every year. The dangers of smoking cannot be overemphasized.
In addition to nicotine, tobacco smoke contains:
- carbon monoxide
- hydrocyanic acid
- hydrogen sulfide
- carbon dioxide
- essential oils
- and a concentrate of liquid and solid products of combustion and dry distillation of tobacco called tobacco tar
The latter contains about a hundred chemical compounds of substances, including:
- the radioactive isotope of potassium
- and a number of aromatic polycyclic hydrocarbons – carcinogens, chemicals that can cause cancer on the body.
Electronic cigarettes and Hookah
With the release of electronic cigarettes, many have the opinion that the negative effect of smoking is almost eliminated. Electronic cigarettes are a low-power aerosol inhaler with a battery, vaporizer, liquid block and air pressure sensor. Nevertheless, it is proved that the risk of cardiovascular is the same as that from smoking regular cigarettes. At the same time, a long-term study showed that less toxic and carcinogenic compounds accumulate in the blood of smokers of electronic cigarettes over the course of six months than smokers who smoke regular tobacco cigarettes.
In 2016, a study was conducted in which it was proved that the chemical flavors found in electronic cigarettes are associated with lung diseases.
A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine shows that smoking electronic cigarettes leads to pathological immune responses in the lungs. Specialists identified markers of lupus and psoriasis, as well as an increased concentration of cells responsible for protecting the body from fungi and bacteria.
Comparison of cigarettes and electronic one
If we consider the use of electronic cigarettes from the perspective of bodybuilding, then the negative effect of this use of nicotine is much lower than from smoking regular tobacco cigarettes. We do not say that it is better to smoke electronic cigarettes, we only want to emphasize that in terms of strength training this choice is much preferable to drawing in tobacco smoke. In general, it is certainly best not to smoke at all. Smoking and a healthy, active sports lifestyle are completely unrelated; these are two completely different poles.
It is also widely believed that smoking a hookah is practically harmless. A common misconception among hookah lovers is that hookah smoke is significantly less dangerous than cigarette smoke. Due to the increased humidity of the smoke, smoking a hookah has a less irritating effect on the throat. Thereby it creating a false sense of security, reducing anxiety about the true health effects. According to a meta-analysis in 2016, scientists from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine concluded that, compared to a single cigarette a hookah produces about 125 times more smoke, 25 times more tar, 2.5 times more nicotine and 10 times more carbon monoxide. Draw your own conclusions. The figures eloquently show the danger of delusions of hookah lovers.
Nicotine and Testosterone
Scientists have proven that in people who have not smoked before, when inhaled tobacco smoke, testosterone levels can increase. Such contradictions are associated with the fact that nicotine can activate the pituitary gland to produce gonadotropic hormones. This stimulating effect does not last long – very soon the central nervous system stops responding to nicotine. As we can see, the benefits of such testosterone are very doubtful. And this fact is only suitable for those who are inclined to look for another justification for their inability to quit smoking.
At the same time, in a number of clinical studies it was found that in men who systematically smoked about a pack of cigarettes a day. Testosterone levels were noticeably lower than in non-smokers. The next step in these studies was to establish the reversibility of this process. After stopping smoking for at least one week, testosterone in individuals who smoked for several years did not return to normal, but a tendency to increase its level was noted.
Smoking in bodybuilding – a subjective view
Some young people working out in the gym say that they almost did not notice any changes when smoking. If this is not cunning, then the reasons for such conclusions can be the relatively young age of the athletes. The relatively low use of tobacco and nicotine, as well as the fact that the negative effect is manifested during systematic smoking and over time. We can say with absolute certainty that smoking in bodybuilding has an absolutely negative effect. Decreased endurance, shortness of breath, decreased tone, decreased synthesis of new muscle fibers, loss of appetite, constant oxygen starvation, increased levels of cortisol – all this does not pass without a trace.
Yes, you can smoke and engage in bodybuilding. But the efficiency and effectiveness of such an athlete’s training will be significantly lower than that of a non-smoker.
So far, not a single fact has been revealed that speaks of the benefits of smoking. All the positive aspects that smokers call are just an excuse for their drug addiction. And let’s call a spade a spade: since nicotine is a drug, then smokers are drug addicts. And drug addiction and any sport are not compatible.
Do not smoke, exercise. Change for the better, strive for the best.