Direct Effect of Smoking on Muscle Gains

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A man is training at a gym. (Image: slavemotion/iStock/Getty Images)

If you are a smoker, you will find that quitting this habit has many positive impacts on your health. Not only does cigarette smoking compromise the health of your heart and lungs, it also diminishes muscle gains from exercise by acting on your body in several distinct ways. While you will still gain muscle through exercise as a smoker, your results as a nonsmoker will greatly improve.

Smoking Makes Your Heat Beat Faster

A smoker’s heart beats an average of 30 percent faster than that of a nonsmoker, which affects the outcome of your exercise in significant ways. Because your heart is working harder to achieve adequate circulation, you use more energy during your workouts. This increase in heart rate, and the resultant increase in blood pressure, diminishes blood flow and reduces your overall performance when performing the same exercise routine as a nonsmoker. When your exercise routine is designed to encourage muscle building, your diminished performance will yield less muscle than that of a healthy nonsmoker.

Lower Levels of Oxygen Hinder Muscle Growth

Your muscle growth is directly diminished when your muscles are deprived of oxygen. Smoking reduces the amount of oxygen available to your muscles in two distinct ways. First, in reducing the rate of blood flow to the muscles, you limit their exposure to oxygen in the blood. Second, because smokers produce more phlegm than nonsmokers, respiration is hindered. This reduction in respiratory activity limits the amount of oxygen entering your bloodstream, so when your already-diminished blood flow reaches your muscles, it is carrying less oxygen to them.

How Your Breathing Affects Muscle Gain

Carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke also bonds with the hemoglobin molecules in your blood, to the exclusion of oxygen. Tar from cigarettes also accumulates in your airways and limits the amount of air you take in. The presence of tar also hinders your lungs’ natural cleansing mechanism, allowing other pollutants to collect and diminish airflow. As your lung capacity and oxygen supply decrease, your muscles starve for the oxygen they need to grow and develop.

How Smoking Affects Your Testosterone Levels

Having normal or high testosterone levels is also of great benefit to you when trying to build muscle. Smoking may damage the cells that produce testosterone within your body. This interferes with your testosterone production and leaves you with lower than average testosterone levels. Because testosterone governs muscle growth from exercise and directed muscle training, a lack of it in your body will significantly hamper your results.

The Effect Smoking Has on Your Endurance

Several properties of cigarette smoke can diminish your overall energy levels. The strain on your heart and lungs, as well as the high you get from smoking, all leave you feeling generally less energetic than a nonsmoker. Your ability to endure longer workouts, or to increase the intensity of your existing exercise routine, will suffer as you use cigarettes. This loss of endurance may force you to cut your exercise short, limiting the number of repetitions you can perform and shortening the time you spend developing muscle.

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