Barbell Shrugged

What you need to know about your hormones

Doug Larson

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  • Thanks, Alex. Very informative. I particularly like the confirmation and explanation on the cortisol issue. I had always thought it was a complete negative until I heard someone mention that it is necessary at certain times.

    Question about the apple cider vinegar. Is it 1-2 tbs per day or per meal?

    • Hey Chris,

      Glad you found the article helpful amigo. Cortisol absolutely gets a bad rap, but we need it. Just like we have a circadian rhythm we also have a cortisol rhythm throughout the day, but how we eat, train and live can disrupt that rhythm and cause problems for our hormones and health.

      With the apple cider vinegar I would recommend going with 1-2 Tbs per meal, but it all comes down to your personal context. Some will need it at each meal others are fine using it once daily. Experiment and see how it works, adjust from there.


  • Awesome!! This article comes out as I am stuggling with anxiety attacks caused by too much stress to which my workouts contributed. I was just told that at an hormone level my body was under stress almost all day long as my workouts were a nice way to blow off the steam but not at a physiological and hormonal level. This obviously led to some kind of exhaustion and my body expressing it by breathing issues (anxiety)! So great article sustaining the information I lately received seen my experience!! Tips if you’re like me, someone who needs or like to workout daily : insert slow pace activities like swimming, a relaxed jog in a nice spot, or, what the hell why not, yoga(!!), once or twice a week and according to the above, your body will react much better to the 3 heavy weight wods per week than ever! Thanks again to the team for all these great articles and tips!!! Great job!!

  • This article is great! I’m reading it thinking “check, yep, that’s me, check, check, check. So…….I’m in the first month of trying to get balance. I’m a 46yr. old female, work six days a wk., I coach , and have 3 kids all in their own activities. Never home, eating on the run constantly. Signs of imbalance, midsection weight gain, can’t seem to lose fat, constantly tired, moodiness, libido, wake up multiple times during the few 5-6 hrs. of sleep I get. I just finished my 3rd wk. of crossfit and I do a 20min. stretch routine every morning. I have had awesome results from the stretching and am already feeling and seeing results from crossfit. I have been doing workout 4-6 times a wk. Based on article maybe too often? Or more is better in this case because I have weight to lose and alot of technique to learn? I know in my heart alot of my issues are hormone related. When I talked to my ob/gyn about this she suggested anti-depressants because I’m really too young to be menopausal yet! HELP…..what kind of dr. should I see to get on track, where do I start to get on the right path??!!

    • Hey Cynthia,

      I’m glad to hear that the article got you thinking. Just from what you have said I think six times a week may be excessive and causing some problems. More is not always better when it comes to dipping into the pain cave. You should be able to get a solid stimulus from 3-4 days week and then incorporating lots of low level stuff like walking and hiking. Do you have any kind of stress management practice ? What does your nutrition look like ? Remember recovery needs to be a huge part of this puzzle to maximize hormones. Also getting extremely lean sometimes will tank peoples hormones, and make them feel like shit.

  • Great article, great podcast episode, and lots of knowledge bombs dropped. I also love how in your serious articles you guys spell gains with a Z lol.

  • I was so excited to see this article because I feel like most people don’t take into account their hormones and neurotransmitters when training. I would love to hear/read a more in depth explanation of how mental illnesses affect training like depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, etc…because even at my own, small box we have multiple athletes battling mental illnesses. Also, (sorry! I know this is asking a lot) you seem so informed about hormones. What do you know about how a female athlete would be affected with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)?

    • Hey Molly,

      Appreciate you taking the time to read! The link between, hormones, diet, digestion and training and mental illness is a subject that could fill books. I know a tiny bit about PCOS mainly pertaining to the insulin resistance aspect of it. Because of the insulin resistance impact it makes losing weight difficult, and a lower carb diet would make sense to help with blood sugar and insulin management. Seems like women who PCOS can have a variety of different symptoms that makes PCOS difficult to identify and diagnose. However I am not a doctor and I would recommend a good naturopath to help troubleshoot this with you.



  • What are the dimensions of the rope you guys typically pull the sleds with?
    From what I’ve read they are 1.5 – 2 inches in diameter and 50ft in length.

    • Hey Megan,

      I am a big fan of the Now Foods Super Enzymes – I prefer to get the capsules because they contain ox bile which is really helpful for fat digestion. I also have used and recommend the Garden Of Life digestive enzymes as well.



  • In point #6 Avoiding Nutrient Deficiencies, you mention that with enough carbohydrates in combination with exercise your cells are more receptive to insulin (therefor take in more of the sugar from the blood).

    My question is, does insulin also cause the cell membrane to become more permeable to the amino acids?

    I know exercise stimulates Growth Hormone which in turn causes the liver to make Insulin Like Growth Factor (IGF’S).

    The second question is, do the IGF’S also play a role in communicating with the cells to allow more amino acids in (as the name would imply)?

    Hope the questions make sense! Thanks!

    • Hey Micah,

      To the best of my knowledge the exercise is what stimulates the protein synthesis however insulin is what delivers the amino acids to the cells for the muscle growth.

      That second question is a great one and to be perfectly honest I’m not as versed in the communication between IGF-1 and muscle cells ,that sounds like a question Dr. Andy Galpin could answer for you. Thanks for reading!

  • What are the best test to get to figure out your levels as a starting base? I have been looking into getting test done for that and food sensitivity.

    • Hey Shelby,

      If you get tested I would look into a full thyroid panel, C- reactive protein to measure inflammation and then a women full hormonal profile. Hope that helps!

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