Friday, December 4, 2015

The Effects of Smoking on Bodybuilding

Looking to take your bodybuilding endeavors to the next level by finally putting down those nasty cigarettes but need the motivation and some information to give you that push you need to quit? Well then, dear smoker, you are at the right place!

We all know that smoking is bad for you, and that it hampers your training progression. Here is a list of reasons why quitting smoking will help you to get bigger, stronger and fitter.

Smoking Harms Blood Sugar Levels

Nicotine causes a quick, short-term release of blood sugar. This is one of the reasons why smoking often leads to diabetes. It also lowers insulin sensitivity, which means that your body is less able to handle sugar and energy production. The less your body is able to create and utilize energy, the less energy you have during workouts and you get tired quicker. Your strength is also hampered, which means that if you didn’t smoke, you would probably be able to lift heavier weights, for more reps, for a longer period of time, causing a greater stimulus leading to greater muscle gains. Insulin helps to regulate sugar and therefore energy. Because your body is less able to regulate energy, it is less able to perform other functions that require energy that it needs to do to adapt and grow muscle, such as filling muscles with glycogen (the energy in the muscle that enables it to work). Because energy is already lowered in smokers, their bodies take longer to change from a stress-induced state that exercise causes to the anabolic, repairing state that grows muscle and strength. When the body stays longer in this stress-induced state, it will start breaking down muscle as a survival mechanism for energy and nutrients.

Smoking affects Your Breathing and Oxygen Levels

One of the most important roles of the lungs is to take in oxygen from the surrounding air and expel carbon dioxide out. Smoking physically damages the lungs, and also progressively smothers the lungs with tar. Additionally, the lungs are also too busy trying to heal and clean themselves out to function optimally. This greatly reduces the amount of oxygen that the body has at its disposal and the amount of carbon dioxide it can get rid of. This leads to decreased energy and strength, lengthened recovery times needed between workouts and a lowered ability for muscle to grow and adapt from stimulus.

Carbon Monoxide and other Toxins

Smoking increases the amount of carbon monoxide in the blood, along with other toxins. The naked eye can see the different between the blood of a smoker and that of a non-smoker. The blood of smokers is thicker and darker than that of non-smokers. If you think about blood and veins as a road which acts as the body’s delivery system, then the carbon monoxide and other toxins can be seen as elephants in the road that take up a space that is not designed to accommodate them. They get in the way of the other vehicles and stop them from doing their job properly, turning an efficient road into peak traffic on damaged roads. The body is also less able to respond the way we want it to with weight training because it is busy fighting off and trying to cope with these harmful chemicals. For example, these chemicals place an unnecessary burden on the liver and kidneys which are metabolizing and eliminating these chemicals, on top of regulating and creating chemicals needed for growth.

Smokers Get More Sick

Smokers get sick more often than non-smokers, and when they fall ill, they are sick for longer and experience worse symptoms. We all know about the terror of falling sick and being unable to gym, as well as feeling like we are losing all the strength and size gains we have worked so hard to get. Getting sick more often means that your body spends less time in the gym, and less time growing from strength to strength and the worse symptoms mean that you suffer greater setbacks every time you get sick.

Smoking Disrupts Eating and Diet Habits

Eating the amounts of food you need in order to gain mass can sometimes be challenging. The increased appetite from quitting smoking is a great chance to stock up on the extra calories that you need to increase muscle growth. In the long term, smoking will no longer interfere with your appetite and blood sugar levels.


Smokers not only need more hours of sleep than non-smokers, but their sleep is of less quality. One reason for this is because their bodies spend a lot of time trying to cope with the demands placed on it from smoking. Another reason is because of the nicotine withdrawal they go through while sleep. Getting better quality sleep as a non-smoker means that your body is better able to recover and grow muscle every night you sleep.

Recovering From Smoking Instead of Growing

As mentioned earlier, smoking placed a big burden on the body and the body is in a constant battle to deal with its harmful effects and survive. This energy that the body spends counteracting the negative effects of smoking would be much better spent building muscle.

Smoking and Focus during Workouts

Smokers are less able to concentrate because they are in constant withdrawal from nicotine. This withdrawal starts a few minutes after their last cigarette and builds up as time goes by. Withdrawals usually get to a point where people start craving another cigarette after 30 minutes, which is why the average person smokes a box (20 cigarettes) a day. As time drags on, withdrawals intensify, leading to symptoms like thirst, moodiness, dropped sugar levels, lack of concentration etc. These withdrawals mean that smokers are generally not as able as non-smokers to focus 100% on their entire workout program.

Smokers Take Longer to Build Muscle and Reach Greater Levels of Fitness than Non-smokers

Can you grow muscle if you smoke? Yes. Can you get bigger muscles than most people who go to the gym if you smoke?  Yes. Can you compete in bodybuilding competitions and have a successful bodybuilding career as a smoker? Yes. Can you do all these things with the same amount of time and energy compared to if you didn’t smoke? No. You can still get there, but the road will be longer and tougher.

Rather quit smoking and give your body every fighting chance that you can to reach your goals as quick as possible. STAY STRONG!