The Effects Of Alcohol On Your Training

With a large majority of UK currently trying to complete the ‘Dry January’ challenge in aid of Alcohol Concern, we thought there was no better time to make you aware of the damaging effects alcohol can have on your training routine, and achieving your ideal physique. The results may surprise you…

The Effects Of Alcohol On Your Training

Is Alcohol Inhibiting Your Training Goals?

Most individuals are aware of the issues surrounding alcohol and the potential effects it can have on their lifestyle. It’s also reasonable to assume that most individuals have experienced cancelled training sessions following a ‘few too many’ the night before. This may just be a one off example, but what are the real effects of alcohol on your training over a lengthier period of time?

How Alcohol Effects Training

Concentration Levels
Alcohol severely reduces your mind’s ability to accept and process information and can occur almost instantaneously.

It has also been seen to alter both hormonal functioning and glycogen metabolism, with reduced glycogen metabolism resulting in less energy supplies for your body.

Ultimately, this can lead to errors of judgement and diminished levels of focus and motivation, all of which should be considered detrimental.


One of the many side effects of alcohol consumption is dehydration. It is hypothesised that your body’s water supply is heavily utilised during alcohol consumption in an attempt to metabolise the alcoholic toxins. This results in water being diverted away from other bodily functions.

Even small percentage adjustments away from your body’s optimum hydration levels can create large discrepancies in your performance levels.

Energy Levels

Alcohol has a limiting effect on the metabolism of numerous substances within the body. One of these substances, most relevant to your training, is carbohydrate.

If the process of carbohydrate metabolism is compromised, then ultimately, the fuel to power the body, glycogen, is reduced as a result. In terms of your own performance, this can result in premature fatigue and diminished endurance, strength and speed.

Recovery Rates

The consumption of alcohol reduces your body’s ability to absorb protein, resulting in a less readily available supply for your muscles. This reduction means that both recovery and growth rates are diminished as a result.

This could ultimately affect your ability to continually train on consecutive days. Alcohol consumption has also been negatively correlated with the production and release of your body’s own growth hormone.

Strength Levels

This particular category has already been covered, in part, through the above sections relating to dehydration and recovery rates.

Summarised simplistically, if you are not fully hydrated and have not allowed your body to optimally recover and repair from previous exertions, then you cannot expect to achieve optimal strength levels during your proceeding resistance training sessions.

Supplying Oxygen

Alcohol consumption has numerous effects on the heart’s ability to carry out its responsibilities to the fullest.

This may not be noticed in a sedentary individual but for those undertaking training it can impact massively on cardiovascular fitness levels and the ability of the heart to supply oxygen to the working muscles.


So there you have it, some of the effects of alcohol and how it impacts on your ability to train to your full potential. Remember, listed above are some common side effects of alcohol on the body but this is no way an exhaustive list.

Additionally, there is the high calorie content in many alcoholic beverages, not to mention the fact that alcohol can stimulate an unnecessary hunger response, resulting in a large calorie intake in a relatively short space of time.

Dependant on the levels of alcohol consumed, these short term effects can remain with you for up to approximately 72 hours until the body has been able to fully rid itself of its alcoholic contents. Therefore, if you drink 2-3 times a week you can appreciate how these detrimental effects can severely limit your training.

On occasions it is nice to relax with an alcoholic beverage and by no means is this article attempting to preach a tee-total lifestyle. The purpose of this article is to simply raise the awareness of excessive drinking in relation to achieving your desired training goals. The key word with regards to training, and alcohol/diet in general, is ‘moderation’.

So how many of you are currently mid-way through a January detox? And how are you finding it? Let us know in the comments section…



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