Your Muscle & Strength Authority Site Since 1999

Awakening Your ‘MAN-Making’ Hormones: Essential Building Blocks of Muscle & Strength

By Chris Wilson, CPT author Anabolic AfterGrowth

Anabolic Hormones like Testosterone, Growth Hormone, IGF-1, Insulin and Cortisol are the keys to unlocking your body’s muscle growth.  All of these have crucial roles on how your muscles respond to your training.  Without these key ingredients, our time in the gym would be 100% worthless!

So you’re probably wondering what the heck they do…keep reading.

Anabolic (or Anabolism) simply means GROWTH.  Making a bunch of smaller things into bigger things while using up a ton of energy in the process.  For some, it has a negative connotation only because it’s often found in the same sentence as steroids.

But the fact is, your body naturally releases all kinds of goodies that help you grow and develop from a young boy into a fully grown man-BEAST.

You don’t need outside help…the answer is already in you.  You just need to UNLOCK the right doors inside your body to release these muscle building monsters.

I will tell you exactly HOW to do that in a few minutes but first let me breakdown all of these extraordinary hormones.

Testosterone is what makes men, men.  Without testosterone coursing through our veins, we would never grow facial hair, have energy or be TEN TIMES stronger than women.  It is the KING of all male hormones and it is the bus driving all of the other muscle building hormones (more on that later).

Benefits of T

Growth Hormone has also gotten a bad rap in recent years because of its illegal use in professional sports.  However, on the contrary, our body’s pituitary gland continues to release this essential hormone into our blood stream well after puberty.

This occurs primarily at two times throughout the day:  Post workout for about 30 minutes or so (but only when you train intensely with multi-joint exercises) but even more importantly while we’re getting our Zzzzzz’s.  This is precisely why getting enough quality sleep on top of kicking your own ass at the gym is critical to your muscle and strength building potential.

Insulin-like growth factor 1 or (IGF-1) is another key ingredient to your body’s natural ability to GROW those muscles.  It acts as a mediator or facilitator if you will.  The science here can get real tricky to understand so think of IGF-1 as a catalyst.  Without it, our growth hormone wouldn’t be able to do its job effectively.

Insulin is yet another super powerful hormone that is totally misunderstood.  You may be thinking diabetes but it actually is even more anabolic than GH.  Unfortunately insulin doesn’t really care whether it’s storing fat or building muscle.  It’s just doing its job and regulating a safe level of blood glucose.

Extra blood glucose will either get stored in your adipose tissue (fat) or it will go to your muscles and/or liver to be used as energy and help those muscle gains.  Insulin is required in the synthesis of protein making it vital to your muscle building potential.  It also helps to limit the breakdown of muscle making it an anti-catabolic hormone.

Thirdly, it acts as a transport system for your BCAAs.  Amino acids make up protein and are the building blocks of muscle and they are delivered directly into muscle cells by our good friend insulin BUT…here is where insulin is NOT your friend:

Insulin is totally unpredictable and helps to store unwanted body fat.  Just like it helps breakdown fat tissue (lipolysis), it also contributes to our fat gain.  It is super tricky to keep in check and this is why it gets a lot of bad press.

Here’s an EASY way to understand this complex science:

If testosterone is the bus (which drives all of this) and the kids on board are growth hormone (GH), the driver is IGF-1 helping to transport all of this super important material to our muscles and tissues which would be considered the school.  Insulin then would be the chaperones on the bus monitoring the kids and aiding any way they can to keep everything in check but sometimes the kids drive them nuts and all hell breaks loose.

Hey, it’s not a perfect analogy but it works just the same.

All of these hormones are necessary on the path to gaining size and strength.  But what about roadblocks, detours and road construction that threatens our muscle building journey?

Enter Catabolic Hormones.

They are essential to our body’s development but super scary at the same time.  These are your fight or flight hormones but since this could get really intricate, we will highlight just the main culprit, cortisol.

Let’s compare Anabolism to Catabolism.

Man Diet and Booze

Anabolic is the process of making smaller things into bigger things allowing us to gain muscle mass and catabolic is the breakdown of bigger things into smaller things using some of our own muscle tissue as the energy source.

The frightening part is that while our body is using its own muscle for energy, it is also halting the muscle growing process.  It would make no sense for the two to happen at once making cortisol a two-fold threat to our mass gains.

Listen, no guy wants to think about his muscles breaking down but it’s going to happen, so just deal with it bro and know how to manage this unavoidable metabolic mechanism.

In order for our bodies to change, adapt and grow, they need to get ripped apart and that is a very stressful time for your body.  Cortisol is at the center of this process.  It is also known as the “stress hormone” and once your body is pushed to its limits with training, you’re going to have some degree of cortisol released.

Your body doesn’t understand the difference between engaging in intense weight lifting versus running from a lion to save your life.

All your body wants to do is SURVIVE.  Either way, you’re stressing yourself out.

The key to not letting cortisol wreak havoc on your muscles and helping your fat multiply is to concentrate on what you CAN control.

3 KEYS to Limiting Cortisol Activity & Gaining ROCKLIKE Mass

#1 Nutrition: Eat especially well on training days and immediately following your workouts, take in quality carbohydrates and proteins.  This has shown to dramatically reduce the surge of cortisol which reaches its peak activity following a strenuous resistance workout.  Replenishing glucose to the blood stream is priority number one along with a healthy supply of amino acids.  Try to always do this within one hour of intense training.

#2 Sleep: Getting adequate sleep every night and napping when you can is paramount to muscle growth.  It sounds simple, right?  Why is it that babies require so much sleep?  It’s because their bodies are growing at such a rapid pace and SLEEP is the answer.  You grow while at rest, not while training, period.  Your body is stress-free while sleeping and your brain signals those essential muscle building hormones to be released and to do their jobs.  So go to sleep at a good time and rest as often as you can.  Save that hard earned muscle for when you need it in the gym.

#3 Training: Train really hard 3x per week doing the BIG 3 lifts. Focus on compound exercises that work the greatest number of muscles at once (ex. Deadlifts, Squats and Bench Press).  This strategy assists in the fat burning process and has the most profound impact on your central nervous system which helps to deliver the power in your lifts.  It also forces your bones and connective tissues to get stronger to support your increase in mass.  Don’t waste your time with endless isolation lifting and overtraining the smaller muscles resulting in strength imbalances and eventual injury.

Finish

Listen, I’m not gonna tell you to go on some crazy diet or go to bed every night at 8 pm.  It’s up to you to make good decisions with the food you’re putting into your body and knowing that donuts, soda and chips aren’t gonna get you where you want to be.

If you want to have the most impact on those man-making hormones, you HAVE TO dedicate yourself to the 3 keys I listed.  Make them a priority in your life and the muscles will follow, I guarantee it.

If You Enjoyed This Article, You’ll Love The One Below…

3 Horrible MISTAKES Guys Make
That Keep Them Scrawny & Weak

Why Heavy Lifting Releases More Growth Hormone

February 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Hormones, Muscle Building, Recent Posts, Training

by Mike Westerdal

aggressive-strengthOver the last ten years or so, there has been a marked increase in discussions about how Growth Hormone (GH) impacts muscle growth, boosts the metabolism and facilitates the burning of excess body fat. Growth hormone is a protein-based peptide hormone that is made up of 191 different amino acids.

It is synthesized and secreted by cells called somatotrophs that are located in the anterior part of the pituitary gland. Looking back at man’s development over the last few thousand years, it seems that GH developed as a means to maintain growth and lean body mass during those times when access to food was scarce.

As an anabolic agent GH functions similar to testosterone, stimulating muscle growth, enhancing recovery and increasing utilization of body fat as fuel. However, there are a number of different theories as to exactly how GH works its magic in the body.

Two in particular are among the most common theories discussed.

The first theory—referred to as the somatomedin hypothesis ¬—states that once the pituitary gland releases GH, it then travels to the liver and other tissues where it stimulates the synthesis and release of insulin-like growth factors (IGFs). This hypothesis makes the supposition that the IGFs then function to stimulate the endocrine system, therefore facilitating the outcomes associated with growth hormone.

The second common hypothesis is known as the Dual Effector theory , which states that GH itself has anabolic effects on body tissues and does so without the assistance of IGFs.

Although there are different thoughts regarding how GH actually impacts the body’s metabolism there are certain things that we do know for certain. First, production of GH is at its peak when we are younger. As our bodies age natural production of GH begins to decline. We also know that we have the ability to influence our bodies’ production of GH.

Various factors that impact the body’s production of GH include overall health, diet, activity level, weight training, sleep patterns, consumption of alcohol, prescription drugs and the use of illicit drugs.

Of these, training with weights—in particular, training with heavy weights—has among the most profound effects on GH production.

Muscles get bigger and stronger in response to the stress of lifting weights. The growth is the body’s attempt to prepare itself for the next time it is faced with the same stress (lifting weights) so that when it encounters the same situation again, it is less stressful on the body.

Muscle growth is essentially an ongoing process of stress and recovery. Over time, as you continually lift heavier weights, the body continues to adapt to the additional demand being placed on it, by growing more muscle. With this understanding, it only makes sense that the greater the stress (lifting weights) the greater the body’s response action.

Training with light weights invokes minimal stress on the body and consequently, requires little or no recovery response because to the body, this is a ‘no big deal’ situation that it is prepared to handle. With light weights, the body has no reason to add more muscle because the muscle you currently have can handle the demand.

But introduce heavy weights into the scene and suddenly, the body’s reaction is totally different. Lifting heavy weights puts the body’s systems on high alert, evoking a strong hormonal response. And herein is what drives the pituitary gland to produce more growth hormone. The key to maximizing the hormonal response is to lift heavy weights utilizing compound movements that simultaneously recruit multiple muscle groups.

Isolation exercises (and exercises performed on machines) do not provoke the same strong hormonal response. Good GH-inducing movements would include the deadlift, the benchpress and the squat. These are commonly referred to as the ‘big 3’ of bodybuilding and for a good reason. Each is a compound movement that involves multiple, large muscle groups. As such, these exercises—when performed with low reps and heavy weights—push the body to increase its production of growth hormone to enhance muscle growth and recovery.

The capacity of heavy weight lifting to drive hormonal responses has been documented by researchers . For example, in a 2008 study, researchers regularly measured hormonal levels in the blood of an elite, record-holding male weight lifter over a period of several weeks. They found that his serum hormone levels spiked considerably as his training peaked. So if you’re interested in boosting your natural production of growth hormone, you need to pick up some heavy weights and get moving. Check out the video below to see some serious weights being lifted!

heavy-lifting

References:

Daughaday WH., Hall K., Raben MS., et al: Somatomedin: A proposed designation for the “sulfation factor”Nature235:107, 1972

Green H., Morikawa M., Nixon T. A dual effector theory of growth hormone action.Differentiation29:195, 1985

Hormonal responses in heavy training and recovery periods in an elite male weightlifter. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2008) 7, 560-000

Research on SEX, TESTOSTERONE…and MUSCLE

August 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Nutrition, Recent Posts, Supplements

Research on SEX, TESTOSTERONE…and MUSCLE

Ok, here’s the question…

“Does $-ex actually LOWER testosterone…and your ability to build muscle?”

We all know that raising your “T” levels can DRAMATICALLY increase your libido as well as pack on layers of thick new muscle, right?

So is your “love life” holding you back from some KILLER gains in the gym?

I mean, what about the “old school” BOXING rule of not having $-ex the night before your fight?

Was it because it took the “lion” out of the fighter? Made him WEAKER?

Actually, this was a question that bodybuilding expert and “hormone enthusiast”, Jeff Anderson took head on.

And he’s the PERFECT guy for the job!

After all, Jeff’s best selling program “Optimum Anabolics” IS focused primarily on naturally increasing your body’s levels of Growth Hormone and testosterone (by as much as 1,000%!)

========================================
But it wasn’t EASY finding an answer!
========================================

After tracking down several endocrinologists and urologists, all of them just shrugged their shoulders and told Jeff they “didn’t know the answer”.

Sheeesh!

You’d think guys who are supposed to be experts in healing E.D. and low “T” levels would have at least a CLUE about this, right?

So Jeff dug deeper…

He called up a friend of his who is a a world-renowned researcher in hormone replacement therapy and after a long discussion, they came up with the DIFINITIVE answer…

YES! sex CAN reduce your “T” levels AND your muscle gains!

I’ll explain WHY in a second, but…

========================================
Here’s what’s MOST important…
========================================

I’m ALSO going to give you Jeff’s SECRET to not giving up your love life in order to have MORE MUSCLE!

Ok, follow along…

Testosterone is a VERY important hormone for gaining muscle.

You knew that, right?

Well in order for your body to optimize output, you MUST have enough of the mineral ZINC in your body.

Zinc is an essential nutrient for your internal “T-Factory” and your body uses it up very rapidly but doesn’t store very much in reserve.

Therefore, zinc must be replenished DAILY, but…

…our diets these days are naturally DEVOID of zinc due to our poor choices AND the degradation of our food supply from poor farming methods (don’t get me started!).

========================================
But here’s the kicker…
========================================

We men also lose zinc during SEX!

We lose up to 1mg of zinc for each “happy ending” we have…and even MORE while sweating (so sweaty sex is basically a “zinc SLAYER”! ;-)

Ok, so if you’ve been following along…

Sweaty $-ex = Zinc Deficiency = Low Testosterone Levels = Less Muscle

Ok, now the solution (and NO…the answer is NOT to stop
having sweaty sex! ;-)

First, testosterone is a “supply and demand” hormone so you’d
damn well better be using a program that triggers natural “T” release.

Actually, this is the entire basis of Jeff’s “Optimum Anabolics” program because he reveals a unique method for naturally increasing testosterone and growth hormone through what he calls “hormone triggering”.

========================================
You can check out Jeff’s best selling “Optimum Anabolics” below:

=> Click To Become A “T-Machine”

========================================

Bottom line, you MUST be providing your body with the “need” for more “T”.

That’s what Jeff’s program was SPECIFICALLY designed to do with his breakthrough “triggering” technique.

Fortunately, having more sex ALSO creates a “need” for more “T” so it’s just a matter of SUPPORTING your own natural production and Jeff covers this in detail in his book.

(BTW…feel free to use this excuse with your partner if things have been a bit “slow” lately – “Really honey! It’s for my health!)

Next, make sure you’re supplementing with about 15-25mg each day of zinc picolinate.

It’s best to take it at night on an empty stomach, right before you go to bed.

This will make sure you have adequate levels of the “raw nutrient” to optimize natural testosterone production…
…and of course, BUILD MORE MUSCLE!

By the way as you can tell, I’m a fan of Jeff’s Optimum Anabolics program, in fact you can see my testimonial on the page you’re about to read.

The before & after’s on his website PROVE that NATURALLY increasing “T” using his method WORKS…BIG TIME!

Go see for yourself at:

Click To Become A “T-Machine”