Everyone who has half way paid attention over the past decade has noticed the growing intolerance to smoking. You’ve seen smoking banned from many public places including the workplace, and many restaurants and bars – all for good reason. Smoking kills. It has been reported that globally, smoking kills more than 5 million people per year. So why are people still taking up the habit?
If any of you bodybuilders are still smoking, it’s time to seriously consider stopping. If nothing else, you’re systematically sabotaging the goals you may have in the gym. David Robson wrote a great article back in 2004 that still rings true today. It goes into great detail about what smoking (tobacco) is doing to affect your training progress. Following is an except from that article.
“How Tobacco Affects Training Progress
Over the years I have personally trained, and advised, a large number of smokers, and have found the biggest determining factor in their decision to quit is the impact tobacco has on their performance. With bodybuilding, a reduction in performance means a more tangible result in the form of an inferior physique. This reduction in performance is compounded by the fact that tobacco directly destroys all of the body’s cells. This includes muscle cells folks.
Tobacco Has The Following Impact On Performance:
- Smoking reduces fitness levels through irreversible respiratory-system damage: This means that one cannot train as long, and the quality of training they do engage in is compromised. Smoking has an immediate effect on respiration, increasing airway resistance and therefore reducing the amount of oxygen absorbed into the blood.
- Often the determining factor, that allows one to succeed in bodybuilding, is whether they can complete that all important final rep, or that extra half-an-hour of cardio. Smoking significantly reduces the likelihood of either of these things. Smoking slows down lung function and reduces lung growth, leaving the smoker literally gasping for air when they need it most.
- The heart-beat of a smoker is 30% faster, on average, than that of a non-smoker: This forces the body of the smoker to expend more energy (in the form of heart-beats) to keep up with their non-smoking counterparts. This faster heart-beat is due to the stimulating effect of nicotine. The resulting increase in heart-rate, and blood pressure, paradoxically, decreases the flow of blood through the blood vessels, and this, in turn, reduces performance.
- Those who smoke produce phlegm more than twice as often as non-smokers: Phlegm builds up in the airway and prohibits correct respiration (breathing). This is because smoking causes chronic swelling of the mucus membranes.
- Tobacco significantly reduces oxygen availability to the muscles during exercise: Carbon monoxide in tobacco smoke has a higher affinity to haemoglobin (an oxygen carrying molecule in the blood) than does oxygen. Smoking, therefore, encourages the replacement of oxygen with carbon monoxide and, resultantly, causes oxygen depletion and a corresponding reduction in performance.
- Carbon monoxide has a two-fold negative effect, in that it reduces the amount of oxygen absorbed into the blood from the lungs, and the amount that is absorbed into the muscles from the blood. Oxygen is important for the functioning of all energy systems in the body, so any mechanism which interferes with oxygen transport and uptake interferes with energy production, and therefore, athletic performance.
- The tar in cigarette smoke adds to airways resistance. This tar coats the lungs, reducing the elasticity of the air sacs and resulting in the absorption of less oxygen into the bloodstream.
- Tar also affects the cleansing mechanism of the lungs, allowing pollutants to remain in the bronchial tubes and lungs. Increased phlegm and coughing, and damage to the cilia (the hair-like projections which “sweep” pollutants out of the airways) are the result.
- Decrease in maximal oxygen intake… Although exercising can increase maximal oxygen uptake by up to 20%, smoking can reduce this effect by up to 10%. “ Source