How to Hack Your Anabolism and Extend Your Window for Muscle Size and Growth

Most gym bros have heard of the concept of the anabolic ‘window’. We all know that there are points during which our body is slightly more anabolic (muscle-build-y) and receptive to protein as fuel (although when precisely this window is and how we can best make use of it is somewhat contested and controversial).

But what not everyone knows, is that anabolism is in fact a lot more complex than this. We are not only anabolic following a workout and in fact, there are many different levels of anabolism. Allow me to explain…

Your Two States

At any given time, your body can be in one of two states. You are either catabolic, meaning that you burn tissue for energy or you are anabolic, meaning that you build muscle and heal damaged tissues. These two states correlate roughly with our ‘fight or flight’ and ‘rest and digest’ states and are controlled by the sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic nervous system.

Fight or flight is what happens when the body perceives itself to be in danger. This occurs when you’re being chased by a predator but also when you’re in trouble with your boss. It triggers an increase in your heartrate, constriction of your blood vessels, increased blood viscosity to prevent bleeding out and greater blood flow to the muscles and brain. Your mind becomes sharply focussed and your immune system and digestive systems are suppressed – all modulated by a release of dopamine and norepinephrine.

This also occurs when blood sugar is low, because the body sees this as equally dangerous and it wants to stimulate us to go out there and find more food for fuel. When this happens, we similarly have a surge in adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormone), ghrelin makes us feel hungry and myostatin tells the body to start burning muscle!

When we’re in danger, we can’t afford to be relaxed and build muscle – we need to fight or fly!

Conversely, when the danger has passed, or when you have a sudden spike in blood sugar, your body becomes more parasympathetic. A surge of serotonin (feel good hormone) is released, which converts into melatonin (the sleep hormone). We feel happy and rested, our heartrate slows and our body can start digesting foods and turning them into muscle and hormones. Low cortisol meanwhile means heightened testosterone and enhanced anabolism.

Staying in Rest and Digest

But this is not a binary state. You aren’t always anabolic or catabolic. Sometimes you are a ‘little bit anabolic’ and sometimes you are ‘highly catabolic’. And countless things influence where we lie on this spectrum throughout the day, from the amount of food we’ve eaten, to background noise, to the temperature of the room (cold makes us catabolic).

bulking-stack-and-guide-300x300-1Your job is to keep yourself anabolic and there are plenty of things you can do to achieve this. One example is to keep your blood sugar steady at all times. Another great tip is to try and lower your resting heartrate, which sends a powerful signal to your body that all is well.

Oh and of course you can stimulate the correct hormones too by using supplements like the Bulking Stack from Crazy Bulk!

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