Life After Lockdown – Episode 2 / Hormone Tests and Covid 19

by | Oct 15, 2020 | Articles

Life After Lockdown – Episode 2 / Hormone Tests and Covid 19

Having got off to a great start with my life after lockdown series from both a training and supplement point of view, I then proceeded to have a couple of issues derail me to some extent.  I hurt my lower back doing some lifting, and then once I had started to recover from that, I came down ill.  Long story short, I tested positive for Covid-19 and had to not only recover from it, I then had to completely self-isolate for the recommended duration afterwards.  They do say these sorts of things come in three’s so now I am making sure no black cat crosses my path whilst I am out ha ha!!  So, apart from some weight loss from being ill, I have not made the sorts of physical gains I had hoped for by this point.  However, during this time I did receive the results back from my hormone tests, get a load of information on nutrition and supplements from the always brilliant Matt Lovell at and liaise with LQuinn training about what the initial plan of training is looking like until some normality returns to contact sports.  So, a definite period of time to reflect and plan!!

A Cortisol graph from the results of my hormone tests for the Life after Lockdown Blog series on Nutrition and Training

A write up from the results of my hormone tests for the Life after Lockdown Blog series on Nutrition and Training

A Testosterone marker from the results of my hormone tests for the Life after Lockdown Blog series on Nutrition and Training

A Melatonin graph from the results of my hormone tests for the Life after Lockdown Blog series on Nutrition and Training

Hormone Tests

There are a number of reasons why Matt suggested hormone tests as a useful addition to the blood works already discussed in the last post.  Firstly, I had told him that I had been suffering from unnatural levels of fatigue whilst training in hard sessions.  When I say unnatural, I mean that as someone who had been training all their life, I knew that something had been off recently with regards to how I felt mid session in anything but the mildest of training.  As a result he wanted to test me for my levels of testosterone.  Anyone who has low levels in this area will no doubt have issues with a number of different things, including that of endurance/fatigue.

Secondly, he wanted to check my levels of cortisol, melatonin and DHEA to ensure these were all functioning properly.  The test he had me use was a home kit that essentially made me spit into plastic tubes at four different points in the day over a period of 12 hours.  Apparently saliva is a much better way to test hormones as it is easier to see more exact amounts in this way.  Also, it is more convenient for sometime to spit into a tube 4 times a day than it is to go for 4 different blood tests over the same timeframe.

Main Takeaways from Hormone Tests (Matt Lovell)

Stuart was stressed at the time of these hormone tests or generally.

He can mount a good stress response indicating the adrenals are functioning well.

He is producing quite a bit of melatonin.

T levels are mid-range so no issues there.

DHEA levels are decent as well so no issues there.

So any fatigue isn’t related to under functioning of his endocrine system.

Basically good news, but using the adaptogens, destressing, relaxation, breathing etc are all going to be useful to him for recovery and health.

Supplements (Matt Lovell)

In terms of the supplement solutions provided for Stuart;

Stuart was put on fish oils due to his omega 3/6 ratio being out of balance on a veggie / vegan diet.

I started him on Hema-plex (a very good iron supporting blend), which will have addressed his low ferritin (stored iron).  This could have been contributing to the air fatigue and oxygen debt type feeling he was getting in training sessions.

Multi vitamin was there to support general nutrient and trace mineral deficit. Including B12, etc. Also to guard against any deficiencies not tested for.

Adaptacat provided for overall stress system support given his aforementioned symptom patterns

Small Steps make Large Gains

Matt always talks about making small changes and taking even the most minuscule of steps in order to progress forward and gain momentum towards achieving any specific goals.  The 80/20 rule is something you may well have come across before.  Make sure you check out this blog post from Matt on his site, which discusses this in-depth from the point of view of nutrition and health “The 20% change which gives you 80% benefit“.  The more I understand where I am at both physically and mentally (the blood works, hormone tests, questionnaires, training markers ie One rep max, one mile run etc), the easier I will find it to formulate a better training plan, track it going forward and make any necessary small changes on the fly going forward.

Training Plan (LQuinn)

In our initial consultation Stuart explained that he wanted to achieve gains in terms of strength and lean muscle mass over an initial 3 months whilst his ability to do contact sports was lessened because of the pandemic.
As with any client who is wanting to improve strength and muscular endurance we did a series of physical assessments like his 1 rep max on squats and bench press follow by endurance tests on press ups. These are pretty staple tests to do which can then be repeated in 1 – 2 months for a comparison. It’s important with any training program to have a measurable way of checking your progress, no matter if your goal is to lose weight, improve your fitness or simply to become more flexible.  As well as he physical test we did the standard body fat measurements, waist to hip ratio and limb size.
I designed a 3 session split per week; legs & shoulders, chest & triceps and back & biceps. By grouping muscles to similar movement patterns you can train a a muscle a lot more efficiently.  For example, doing a bench press exercise you are primarily targeting the pectorals, whilst at the same time activating the triceps on the push movement.  Our first week of training was also going to be a test to see Stuarts current state of fitness, strength and general well-being.
On our first week Stuart was reaching maximum exertion by half way through each session, and exercises had to be removed with rest time being extended. This is quite common when training someone for the first time as you need to test the boundaries of their current physical state.  We had spoke about this being an ongoing issue for Stuart in training so there was also likely to be an underlying issue affecting this.
After the first seven to ten days, Stuart’s recovery during sessions increased a lot.  This was very likely down to the series of supplements he had been given by Matt Lovell to top up his deficiencies, complimented by the consistent schedule of more frequent training.  It was obvious from Stuarts history in martial arts that he is no stranger to tough physical exercise, so his body was quick to react to the training.  Whereas a complete beginner may take 3-6 months until they feel they are making any major progress, Stuart progressed quickly following the lessening of the extreme fatigue he had initially faced.
The session structures used a lot of super sets. These are when exercises are performed back to back before having a rest. I use them a lot with intermediate to advanced clients because we get a lot more done in a session rather than doing single sets.  Sessions are typically an hour so we want to maximise that time.  Supersets also put a lot more stress on a muscle.  Therefore the improvement in strength and growth will be much quicker.  A good example of a superset would be flat bench press combined with chest flys, where you would be hitting the same muscle but with different movements.
To start a typical session we have a good warm up, usually an aerobic cardiovascular machine for 5 minutes to increase the heart rate and get an increase in blood flow, followed by dynamic and static stretches with and without and resistance bands to ensure he is fully ready to train.  We perform our larger compound movements to start with, these are typically squats, bench press or bent over rows.  These exercises are single set exercises, and the goal here is to increase strength.  Large exercises (like the back squat for example), recruit a lot of different muscles so as well as the increase in strength, muscle growth should also be a byproduct of this.  These primary exercises are typically 4-6 sets of 6-8 reps, or in some cases starting off with 10-12 reps and gradually increasing the weight whilst decreasing the reps.  We would do these as single sets to allow for more recovery of the muscle before moving on to the next set, our rest time would be around 60 – 90 seconds.
Once this main exercise is completed, we will then move on to our supersets where the intensity and volume would increase.  I wouldn’t say as a trainer I stick to the “text book” guidelines which usually states 3-4 sets and 6-12 reps, which would supposedly increase muscle size.  I believe it’s more about the constantly stressing the muscle which is what leads to growth and strength.  If you look at crossfit, this is a good example of how putting large stress on a muscle can result in good all round improvement of a muscle in regards to both the increase in size and strength.  So we mix high volume with lower volume.  If Stuart wanted to improve his 1 rep max on a squat then the use for supersets and high volume would be a waste of time and more likely to hinder his goal than help achieve it.  Because of Stuarts material arts, it is also a good way to improve the endurance of a muscle.  It carries over well into most sports when you can train your muscles constantly over a period of time and still see them operate well.  This shows we are improving our lactate tolerance, which is when we can keep our muscles functioning by being faster at reprocessing the waste products of exercise.

Body Measurements

Even though I have had some obstacles to overcome since starting this series, I wanted to keep track of my body measurements.  No one’s training is plain sailing so adapting around injuries etc is an important aspect of moving forward.  As a coach myself, I know this all too well!!

Weight – 86kg

Body Fat est 24%

Hip / Waist – 88cm / 90cm
Arm – 35.8cm
Leg – 58cm
Chest – 107cm

Going Forward

I am now completely recovered from Covid-19 so am looking to get some consistent training time back under my belt.  Apart from this, everything remains pretty similar to the last post because of the aforementioned period of time being derailed from doing anything.  I am going to track data properly using the bracelet I have now received from Whoop and continue training mixing between Strength work with LQuinn and solo Martial Arts sessions ie bag work/conditioning etc on my own until the local restrictions lift and I can get back to normal group/one-to-one style drilling/sparring.

I have now had the results and feedback from both my blood works and hormone tests.  I have also now got a template for vegetarian/vegan nutrition from Matt Lovell, which I will be following on the dietary front re Macros etc (which I will go over more in-depth on the next post).  On top of that I will be sticking to utilising all the supplements still as listed below.

They are

Advanced Multi Nutrient Formula Vitamin

Optimum D3 & K2 Blend Vitamin

High Strength Omega 1250

ViNitro Plus Nitric Oxide Enhancer

ApaptACAT Adaptagenic Herb formula

He also sent me

Natures Plus Hema-Plex Iron Capsules

I also use CBD Coconut oil daily and Vegan Protein after training from Raised Spirit.

Organic CBD Coconut Oil Gold

Organic Hemp Cacao Protein Powder


I originally set out on this case study to try and get back to a very subjective idea of feeling better physically and mentally.  However, I know that is neither measurable nor an actual target.  As such, over the course of this case study, I am looking to build lean muscle mass, lower my body fat percentage, correct any nutritional deficiencies I have, learn more about ongoing nutrition, improve my martial arts performance, improve my 5k run time and develop different methods to improve ongoing mental health.

Alongside Matt Lovell I will be learning about how nutrition and lifestyle can affect performance within any sporting or general environment.  He will be monitoring both my progress and well-being throughout in order to continue guiding me on my path to developing elite performance.

I will be working with Lewis Quinn on my strength training, muscle mass/body fat goals and ORM targets.

I will be working with Panicos Yusuf and Steve Campbell on my Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu respectively both one-to-one and in group format (as and when allowed).

I will be using Whoop to track some of the key analytics I will be recording throughout.

I will be using supplements supplied by Matt for my specific deficiencies and to improve any aspects he feels need work.  I will also be using supplements from Raised Spirit as part of my general well-being and recovery.

I will be visiting or speaking to relevant experts and coaches about different methods going forward as well.

I will be posting regularly about what I have been doing, any results I have and any new things I have learned or tried on this journey.  On the next one I will write up my some of my specific training sessions, what I am doing in solo training and what nutritional changes Matt has had me implement because of my vegetarian diet.  If you have any questions about anything I have written then please don’t hesitate to ask by getting in touch via my email –

For further information on Matt Lovell or Amino Man, please check out his site direct at

For further information on LQuinn Training, please check out his site direct at

For further information on Panicos Yusuf or All Powers Gym, please check out his site direct at

For further information on Steven Campbell or Stealth BJJ, please check out his site direct at

For further information on Raised Spirit, please check out their site at

For further information on Whoop, please check out their site at

If you have not read the first post from this series than you do so by clicking here “Life after Lockdown – Case Study Series on my next 6 months training in Martial Arts“.

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