(800) 545-4772
Sign In
ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, Building Muscle, Strength Training, Anabolic State, Building Muscle: How to Get Your Body in an Anabolic State

Building Muscle: How to Get Your Body in an Anabolic State

Reading Time: 4 minutes 10 seconds


DATE: 2020-07-31

To achieve an anabolic state, you must undergo a training stimulus. Intense exercise produces a series of catabolic reactions in the body. This means that breakdown occurs. After muscle tissue breaks down, it needs to be repaired. This is where the body becomes anabolic.

Once you complete an intense workout, the body is nutrient deficient. Although growth hormone and testosterone rise during any workout, these hormones create an anabolic state and increase what is called protein synthesis. Muscle protein synthesis helps prevent the breakdown of muscle protein.

While catabolic reactions occur during a workout, protein synthesis helps build the body back up after. Proteins are made up of amino acids or BCAA. If protein synthesis does not occur, then the body breaks down these muscle proteins instead.

The goal is to avoid low energy levels and prevent muscle breakdown. Let's look at how to achieve a high level of anabolism.

What is an Anabolic State?

An anabolic state is when the body repairs itself to become bigger and stronger. This metabolic process of growth is opposed by catabolism. A catabolic state is when the body experiences a breakdown in metabolism.

Applying these principles to fitness will help you accomplish your physique goals. It is important you train at a high intensity and replenish lost nutrients. Intense training promotes anabolic hormone production to build muscle. These hormones also fuel protein synthesis, which helps repair muscle tissue.

The longer your workout, the more catabolic the body becomes. It is not beneficial to be in the gym for three hours each day. Aim for workouts to last no more than 45 minutes to avoid an increase in cortisol. This stress hormone promotes a catabolic state and increases when all energy is depleted from the body.

Takeaway: Try to achieve the same, if not more, exercise in a shorter time to maintain an anabolic state.

Benefits of Anabolic Training

All fitness goals are achieved through anabolism. Anabolic training improves body composition, lean body mass, hormone production, and strength. Strength gains and muscle hypertrophy depend on muscle energy or stimulus.

Anabolic training boosts metabolism and improves performance levels. The longer you stay in an anabolic state, the more muscle tissue you retain. Perform anabolic training to improve the following:

  • Muscle function and growth

  • Exercise abilities

  • Heart function

  • Blood circulation

  • Blood sugar levels

  • Bone density and strength

  • Immune system function

  • Calorie burn

These benefits impact overall health by preventing disease and other health complications.

Want to Know How to Get Your Body in an Anabolic State?

Maximize anabolic training through proper exercise, recovery, and nutrition. We know how important training and nutrition is. But we tend to overlook the importance of sleep and recovery.


Compound weight lifting is the best anabolic training. It allows the body to use multiple muscles and joints at one time. This recruits more muscle fibers and activates the central nervous system more than single-joint exercises.

The overload principle applies stress to muscle and leads to muscle tissue breakdown. Squats, presses, deadlifts, and pull-ups stimulate anabolic training and lead to greater protein synthesis.

Intense workouts that involve heavy weights and short rest periods boost metabolism. They increase muscle-building hormones and decrease the production of catabolic hormones. Cortisol causes fast muscle breakdown when the body runs out of energy. By shortening workouts, you avoid spikes in cortisol.


Pre- and post-workout nutrition is vital to creating an anabolic environment. Consuming a well-balanced meal two hours prior to a training session provides fuel for the entire workout. Roughly 30 minutes to two hours after a workout the body is craving the nutrients it lost.

Following the workout, the body has a higher level of nutrient absorption. This is because it has been depleted of all its energy. Protein synthesis occurs all day, but this is the best time to take advantage of the anabolic window.

Consume protein and carbs to promote protein synthesis and refuel the body. Consuming carbs and protein together helps the body release insulin. Insulin helps the body absorb protein once it's broken down into BCAAs.

Here are potential benefits to nutrient timing.


This is just as important for muscle repair. Sleep is the best form of recovery. It helps increase anabolic hormone production and lowers catabolic hormone production.

When human growth hormone and testosterone levels are higher than cortisol, the body is building back up.

Sleep eight hours each night to efficiently burn fat and build muscle. Maintain a circadian rhythm and sleep the same hours each day. By having a consistent schedule you keep the body in constant anabolism.

Foods to Get Your Body in an Anabolic State

Anabolic reactions are fueled by food. Real foods contain macronutrients and micronutrients. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants consumed through whole foods fuel anabolic reactions. And healthy fats, high levels of protein, and complex carbs serve as the body's main energy sources.

Avoid consuming alcohol, packaged foods, and processed foods. Foods high in sugar and preservatives contribute to higher levels of catabolism. If you have any nutrient deficiencies, consider using supplements.

It can be challenging to obtain high levels of protein. Protein shakes can help, but do not rely on supplements only. Here are some foods you should consume to increase anabolism:

  • Lean protein (chicken, eggs, steak, fish)

  • Carbohydrates (beans, whole grains, sweet potatoes, quinoa)

  • Fats (oils, nuts, avocado)

  • Vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli)

  • Fruits (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries)

Combine these whole foods and eat every 3-4 hours. Each meal should contain at least 30 grams of protein to help with anabolism. Frequent eating allows the body to absorb all the nutrients consumed in one sitting. If you consume too much at one time, the body cannot digest it all.

Also, remember that muscle cells depend on water. When they do not receive enough water, they shrink. Consume half your body weight in ounces of water each day to fuel muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth.

Consider using these key aspects for creating a nutrition plan.

If you are looking to help clients improve their physique and achieve an anabolic state. Check out the ISSA Bodybuilding Specialist and implement new techniques to drive real results.

Featured Course

ISSA | Bodybuilding Specialist

This distance education course covers training, recovery, motivation, and nutritional strategies to prepare the personal trainer to work with bodybuilders.

Sign Up & Stay Connected

Receive $50 off your purchase today!