Understanding the relationship between Cortisol & Testosterone

physical stress

Introduction to cortisol and testosterone

Talking to athletes and muscle builders you will gain the impression that testosterone is a God send that will allow you to have more stamina, be stronger, sharper and improve your overall vitality. This hormone is essential to development in your body and as you get older it becomes an essential hormone that allows your body’s cells to naturally recover.

Now if you’re more knowledgeable about your body and its hormones or if you just talk to strength trainers then you may have heard of another hormone called cortisol. This hormone is the body’s stress hormone it is a natural inhibitor of testosterone production and that is why it is viewed as the nemesis of anyone who is trying to make serious gains.

Cortisol, an inhibitor of testosterone

With this knowledge you may presume that the ideal is to cut out any cortisol levels within the body altogether and coming across cortisol blockers may deepen this believe. However, it is important to remember that a healthy body requires balance and therefore cutting down something that is naturally produced by the body.

Therefore, though cutting down/ cutting out cortisol will allow increased testosterone production it will also have negative implications on your body due to it missing a hormone which at times can provide benefits such as an increase in energy.

What is Cortisol?

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by the body’s adrenal gland, it is a catabolic hormone meaning that it breaks down proteins to be used in the body as fuel. This is the opposite of anabolic hormones such as testosterone which helps the body’s growth. Other catabolic hormones are glucagon and adrenaline, both hormones also break down proteins to be used for energy.

Your body communicates to the adrenal gland to begin producing of cortisol when you’re faced with physical or mental stress. So, cortisol is released by the body when it feels you will need addition energy to cope with stresses, for example if you over exert yourself on a workout you may end up increasing your cortisol levels. Which means if you did dead lifts to increase your testosterone but overexerted yourself then you could actually have the opposite effect.

Catabolic and Anabolic Hormones

So just so we’re all clear catabolic hormones are designed to break down proteins in your body to be used as energy, adrenaline is a hormone that works in a similar way to cortisol that recognises that you may need a surge of energy to help you through a tough situation.

Anabolic hormones like testosterone are essentially created to help your body grow and maintain itself, they are vital in your body’s process of repair. Growth hormone and testosterone are two key anabolic hormones that are key to muscle growth by increasing protein synthesis to help your body repair following exercise.

Protein synthesis

Protein synthesis requires a supply of amino acids to build up into protein. This is why it is key that when you work out, you ingest a high amount of protein so that your body can break it down into amino acid in preparation for protein synthesis. The protein created is then provided to muscle tissues for growth and repair.

Catabolic hormones break down protein in the body for gluconeogenesis, essentially taking the proteins away from anabolic hormones which need them to maintain muscle health.

Cortisol, do you really need it?

Ok, so that was a lot of information to take in but hopefully now you will understand the roles of anabolic hormones and catabolic hormones like cortisol. So, the million-dollar question, do we really need cortisol, and should we then consider cortisol blocker supplements? At first cortisol blockers sound like a great idea, they help you lose weight and allow your body to produce more testosterone. However, as we mentioned before your body requires a balance and completely cutting it out altogether isn’t a great idea, especially when it can cause fatigue, low blood pressure and can affect the sleep cycle.

Although you shouldn’t drastically lower your cortisol levels you also don’t want it to increase to dangerous levels which can cause high blood pressure, increased fat, lower reproductive function, weaker immune system and lower testosterone levels. So, if you want to achieve more strength, stamina, libido and a generally healthier lifestyle then you will want to keep your stress levels as low as possible.


A key hormone used in the maintenance of muscle tissue, there is no doubt that maximising testosterone levels is important. The best ways to achieve this are to increase protein intake to ensure their the body is supplied for protein synthesis. Natural testosterone boosters are another great way to boost testosterone as they provide the body with nutrients that are integral for testosterone production as well as other ingredients that encourage test production.

An example of a premium supplement that combines these two factors is Centrapeak, it includes ingredients like Zinc & Vitamin B6 to provide nutrients at an optimal level for test production. Centrapeak also includes Panax Ginseng an ingredient that has proven in research to promote testosterone production and higher libido.