T Nation

Winter Sickness

Christian - Hypothetically speaking (or not), what do you think is most likely to increase chances of getting sick: High volume training, high load training, high intensity (to failure and beyond w/ special techniques), high frequency?

Not recovering enough.

Whether increases cortisol the most. And that is dependent on the person’s neurological profile. For some people heavy loads are more stressful (Type 3 and to some extent 2B) while for others it will be volume (Type 1A and 1B) and for some it might even be the repetitiveness of the workout (Type 2A).

Understand that cortisol has 3 main functions:

  1. mobilize stored energy to fuel muscle or brain function
  2. free up stored glycogen to increase blood sugar level when it’s too low
  3. shut down (in part at least) the immune system so that you have more resources to “fight or flight”… the immune system goes back online when you are in “rest & recover mode” one cortisol and adrenaline go down

So if cortisol is chronically elevated the immune system stays down and as a result you are more likely to become ill.

If you only look at physiology, VOLUME would be the greatest risk of causing illness because when you train, cortisol is increased more when volume is higher (you need more fuel). However cortisol can also be released because of mental/psychological stress. So if a type of training (e.g. lifting heavy) causes a significant mental stress/anxiety then you will also have a cortisol spike with the associated immune system shutdown.

But from experience dealing with lots of athletes who had cortisol issues leading to immune problems, volume is the greatest overall risk.

I suspected you might say volume. For a 2B, what constitutes a “safe” amount of weekly volume per muscle group?

Volume is not the only factor, it is likely the most important. There are many other factors at play so it’s hard for me to tell you a set number.

For one thing not all exercises are created equal (big lifts will lead to a greater cortisol release because they require more energy), speed of movement (which affects time under tension), number of reps, how close you go to failure, etc.

So if I plan on a higher volume workout using a mix of 1-2 big lifts and several accessory lifts (bodybuilding style), would consuming more preworkout carbs help keep cortisol a little lower?

Yes, but it’s the 1-2 big lifts that will be a problem for 2Bs. 2Bs don’t handle heavy loading as well as Types 1A, 1B and 2A. They can have 1 “big lift” per workout but only go really heavy (less than 5 reps) infrequently

Understood. I generally just do one compound lift to start, lately I pyramid down while gradually adding weight while always leaving 1-2 reps in reserve (eg 10, 8, 6, and then one max set of 6-10 reps and sometimes a back off pump set).

Then I move onto smaller stuff to maximize the pump in the 8-12 rep range using fun stuff like pre/post fatigue, iso holds, drop sets, 1.5 reps etc.

yeah that’s fine