Recovering from the Stressors of Contest Prep — Hormone Replacement Therapy

TAGS: Hormone Replacement Therapy, Chase the Pain, T3, T4, hormone replacement, thyroid, Derek Dolgner, david allen, programming, mobility, bodybuilding

 “Life can be hard — it’s supposed to be. To accomplish your goals and be successful you have to have a very strong desire to keep moving forward and never quit when the road gets tough.”  — Dave Tate

Who ever said life was easy? The last few months have been hell for me. My greatest fears of being unable to do what I love and am passionate about, bodybuilding, have become my reality. The constant reoccurring thoughts and questioning if I will ever feel the same again run endlessly through my mind. Although it is my body that is in need of recovery from the stress, training, and dieting, my mental state seems to be in critical condition as well. Seeing my physique digress from its all time best is disheartening, and mentally hard to cope with.

Being unable to do anything about it but rest requires a different kind of strength and faith in knowing that it is what will be best for me long term. Although it is hard to view my situation in a positive manner, I need to remember that this sport is a marathon not a sprint. There is going to be hard times, and the key to success is perseverance.

The trials of the rigorous contest prep are still taking its toll on me, and it will be for some time to come. The chronic physiologic stress from the months of intense training is resulting in decreased thyroid activity. The stress also increased serum cortisol, which is resulting in decreased tissue T3 levels and increased reverse T3.

Being in a caloric deficit for a long period of time also contributed to a significant decrease in intracellular and circulating T3 levels. This decrease in T3 significantly reduced my metabolism. Although I have increased my food intake post show, and have done so gradually, my metabolism has not returned to normal levels. The majority of my caloric increases have been made in dietary fats to help improve my hormonal profile.

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Frequent and excessive training in combination with being in a caloric deficit for a significant amount of time reduced my body’s ability to convert T4 to T3. It also increased my reverse T3 levels.  The end result is hypothyroidism, which has the possibility of manifesting into weight gain, fatigue, and depression. All symptoms I am currently experiencing.

I decided to take control of my current situation and contacted a hormone therapist, who has prescribed a low dose of timed-released T3. With the start of my treatment I have been cleared to return to the gym. I am following David Allen’s CTP (Chase the Pain) programming and starting with a one-on/one-off training split. On my non-training days I perform a 20-minute steady state cardio session with my heart rate between 120-140 bpm. During this recovery time period, I cannot increase the frequency of high intensity training since my cortisol levels are already high and elevating them any more may further lead to T3 suppression. 

Due to my hormonal profile being less than optimal, the ability to create protein synthesis and increase muscle mass at this time is limited. Therefore while I wait for my body to recover, I am being proactive and improving in areas that I otherwise would normally neglect. My main focus for the next few months is increasing my mobility. I expressed to David Allen the concerns I had regarding my shoulder mobility and that I wanted to make it a priority to improve upon it. This is the mobility routine he designed for me. In addition to this I am performing yoga twice a week to improve mobility and decrease stress levels.

Pre-Workout

*Band Pull a part super series 1x10 of each

*10 swim arounds


*10 wall slides

Post Workout

*10 swim arounds

*10 wall slides

*1 minute banded shoulder retractions

*1 minute Overhead lat stretch with band

Life isn’t easy. Despite the discouragement I’ve had the last few months I am beginning to feel better with the start of my treatment. I am hopeful that I will be able to return to the stage much sooner than originally anticipated, and continue doing what I love and am passionate about, bodybuilding. I am focusing on keeping a positive mindset, although I admit this isn’t always easy. I am channeling my energy towards areas I can still improve upon such as mobility. I am paying close attention to how my body is handling the stress from reintroducing training, but mentally I am much more at peace being back in the gym. I know with time I will be back to where I was, and better. The key is perseverance.

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