When it comes to fitness and muscle-building, there are a number of key components that individuals need to pay attention to. Exercise, diet, and overall wellness are all crucial factors that contribute to being able to gain and maintain muscles. Additionally, there is one habit that should not be overlooked by those who are focused on these goals—smoking.
For those who want to build muscle, smoking can be particularly problematic. Not only does it impair lung function and heighten the risk of lung cancer, but it also has negative impacts on muscle recovery and growth. Despite this, many individuals who are dedicated to working out and building muscle continue to smoke, even though it runs counter to their health and fitness goals.
How smoking impacts muscle gains
Smoking impairs the body’s ability to build and maintain muscle. Nicotine and other chemicals found in cigarettes restrict blood flow and impair the oxygenation of muscles, leading to reduced physical performance and slower muscle recovery. This means that smokers have a harder time building muscle and increasing strength compared to non-smokers.
Furthermore, smoking can lead to a decrease in overall physical endurance and stamina. This can greatly hinder an individual’s ability to engage in proper exercise and training to increase muscle mass. The effects of smoking also extend to the respiratory system, which can lead to decreased lung capacity and endurance, making it harder to engage in high-intensity workouts necessary for muscular development.
Smoking can also lead to an increase in the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Elevated cortisol levels can lead to increased muscle breakdown and a decrease in muscle growth. This can have a direct impact on an individual’s muscle mass, as high levels of cortisol can lead to a catabolic state in which muscle tissue is broken down for energy rather than being built and repaired.
Ways that smoking can be dropped
Considering the negative impact that smoking has on muscle gains, quitting smoking is one of the best steps you can take to better your chances of buffing up. As such, below are a few ways in which smoking can be dropped.
Nicotine replacement therapy
Arguably, the most known way to quit smoking is by taking nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products. Designed to help smokers wean off their dependency, NRTs come in many forms to suit various smoker preferences. One of the newer forms that have been gaining popularity is the nicotine pouch. These are small, discreet pouches meant to be placed between the gum and lip to absorb nicotine. They are available in different nicotine strengths, ranging from 2 to 35mg, as well as a variety of flavors such as citrus, berries, coffee, and many others. This makes them appealing to a wide range of users who want to curb withdrawal.
Another popular form of NRT is the nicotine patch. These patches are typically thin and adhesive, meant to be applied on the skin, and worn for a certain period of time. 24-hour patches are common among users, but 16-hour patches are also available as the product has a tendency to disrupt sleep for others. All things considered, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional to determine whether pouches, patches, or other types of NRTs are the right choice for you. Since NRTs are discreet and mess-free, they can be used virtually anywhere, meaning it’s easy to use one during workout sessions.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Another way to quit smoking with less chance of a relapse is to get to the root cause of your habit. This is where cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) comes in. A key component of CBT for smoking cessation is cognitive restructuring, which involves identifying and challenging irrational thoughts and beliefs that support smoking behavior. Smokers may hold beliefs such as that smoking helps them relax or that they cannot cope with stress without cigarettes. Through CBT, individuals can learn to recognize these automatic thoughts and replace them with more rational and adaptive beliefs. By changing their thought patterns, individuals can reduce the cognitive triggers that lead to smoking and increase their motivation to quit.
CBT for smoking cessation also focuses on behavior modification techniques to help smokers develop alternative coping strategies and change their smoke-related habits. This may include learning and practicing relaxation techniques, developing problem-solving skills, and engaging in healthy activities to distract from cravings. By learning new ways to manage stress and cope with triggers, individuals can reduce their reliance on smoking as a coping mechanism and be better at resisting the urge to smoke. It may even become further cause to work out, as fitness can replace cigarettes as a coping response.
Article written by Rachael Jacobs
Exclusively for ZPhysique