How Strength Training effects your Cortisol levels

September 04, 2023 3 min read

strength training cortisol article

What is Cortisol

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. It plays a crucial role in the body's fight-or-flight response and helps regulate various processes, including metabolism, immune response, and blood pressure.

Understanding the Acute Cortisol Response

When faced with a stressful situation, the body releases cortisol to provide a burst of energy and increase focus. This is known as the acute cortisol response. While this response is essential for survival, prolonged or excessive cortisol release can have negative effects on health.

The Impact of High Cortisol Levels

High cortisol levels over an extended period can lead to a range of health issues, including weight gain, impaired cognitive function, weakened immune system, and increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

How Strength Training Helps

Strength training, also known as resistance training or weightlifting, has been shown to have a positive impact on cortisol levels. Regular strength training sessions can help lower the acute cortisol response, leading to a more balanced hormonal profile.

The Science Behind It

Research has demonstrated that strength training activates the body's stress response system, leading to an initial increase in cortisol levels during the workout. However, over time, the body adapts to this stress and becomes more efficient at regulating cortisol release.

Studies have shown that individuals who engage in regular strength training have lower resting cortisol levels compared to sedentary individuals. This indicates that strength training helps the body maintain a healthier cortisol balance even during non-stressful periods.

How Does Strength Training Help Lower Cortisol?

Engaging in regular strength training exercises has been shown to effectively lower cortisol levels. Here's how:

1. Increases Endorphin Release

Strength training stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. These endorphins help counteract the negative effects of cortisol and promote a sense of well-being and relaxation.

2. Improves Sleep Quality

Regular strength training has been linked to improved sleep quality. Getting enough restful sleep is essential for regulating cortisol levels. When we don't get adequate sleep, cortisol levels can remain elevated, leading to increased stress and anxiety.

3. Builds Muscle Mass

Strength training exercises, such as weightlifting, help build muscle mass. Increased muscle mass leads to a higher metabolic rate, which can help regulate cortisol levels. Additionally, having more muscle mass allows the body to better handle stress and reduces the impact of cortisol on the body.

4. Enhances Stress Resilience

Regular strength training helps improve our ability to handle stress. It provides a controlled environment where we can challenge ourselves physically, teaching our bodies to adapt and become more resilient. This increased resilience translates to better cortisol regulation in response to stressors.

5. Promotes Overall Well-being

Strength training has numerous benefits for our overall well-being. It helps boost confidence, improves body image, and increases self-esteem. These positive psychological effects can indirectly lower cortisol levels by reducing stress and promoting a more positive outlook on life.


Incorporating strength training into your fitness routine is not only beneficial for building strength and muscle, but it also plays a vital role in lowering cortisol levels. By reducing cortisol, you can improve your overall health, manage stress more effectively, and promote a sense of well-being. So, start incorporating strength training exercises into your routine and experience the positive impact it can have on your cortisol levels and overall quality of life.



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