Summary by Mike Westerdal
Unfortunately, shedding unwanted fat is a lot more complicated than just cutting back on calories and adding in a few extra cardio sessions each week. The problem is that our genetic programming gets in the way, making getting rid of fat a lot more complicated than we’d like. When we start to cut calories and burn more energy our bodies think that we’re facing a food shortage. In response, it releases a flood of hormonal responses that are designed to conserve energy and make sure we’ve got fat reserves to draw on for the upcoming ‘famine.’
These hormonal responses are what stand in the way of our fat loss goals. There are three in particular that inhibit fat loss–estrogen, insulin and cortisol. When we do the things we do to shed unwanted fat, it triggers the release of these hormones. And when released, each of these tells the body to increase residual fat storage, especially around the waist area. The good news though is that we can ‘fight hormones with hormones’ and manipulate our metabolic systems to overcome these fat loss roadblocks.
The secret to this strategy is identifying the nemesis for each ‘bad’ hormone–or in other words, the ‘good’ hormone that does the opposite of what the ‘bad’ hormone does. For example, testosterone is the ‘opposite’ of estrogen. Testosterone is the male sex hormone and estrogen is the female sex hormone. To combat the fat storage effects of estrogen, we want to increase the amount of testosterone our bodies release.
There are several ways you can naturally increase the amount of testosterone the body releases. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by lifting weights. In particular, increasing training density has proven to be an excellent technique to stimulate testosterone production. Training density refers to the amount of work you perform within a given timeframe. You can increase training density by lifting more weights, performing more repetitions or by reducing the rest periods between sets.
To fight the stubborn fat around the mid-section of the body, you can really increase training density through a modified circuit training technique. A key difference between this and other types of circuit training is that here, instead of focusing on doing a certain number of reps, you perform as many reps as you can within a certain time period for the first set. Then, you increase both the weight and the number of reps you perform for the second set.
Similarly, there are training techniques you can employ to combat insulin and its impact on body fat storage. Here, training techniques focus on increasing insulin sensitivity and boosting Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1 (IGF-1), which counters the effects of insulin. Dynamic training–which is based on combination movements–is particularly effective at boosting the amount of IGF-1 in the bloodstream. Higher amounts of IGF-1 negates insulin resistance and increases the body’s fat-burning capacity.
We can also combat the fat gaining effects of cortisol by increasing the amount of Growth Hormone (GH) our bodies produce. GH is the single most effective compound your body produces to affect both fat loss and muscle gain. The more GH the body produces, the more fat you burn and the more lean muscle mass you add.
Like the other two fat-fighting hormones, certain training techniques stimulate the production of GH. Lactic acid training is one technique that is especially effective. Lactic acid is what causes the ‘burn’ you feel when you train your muscles really hard. As annoying as that feeling may be, it does trigger the release of cortisol- and fat-fighting GH. You can boost the release of lactic acid by lifting very slowly and then quickly (but carefully) returning to the starting position. Another way to increase GH production and diminish cortisol production is by sleeping. Yes, a good night’s rest triggers the production of GH while simultaneously diminishing the production of cortisol.
So there you have it–three fat-fighting training techniques from Roman’s Final Phase Fat Loss at your disposal. Include these in your training arsenal and you’ll be able to fight hormones with hormones and win the battle against stubborn fat, once and for all.
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By Mike Westerdal author of Lean Hybrid Muscle RELOADED
When growth hormone travels from the pituitary gland to the liver it stimulates the production of insulin-like growth factors (IGFs), which are polypeptide protein hormones. Though there are a number of varieties, among the various IGFs, IGF1 is of the most interest to weightlifters due to its capacity to stimulate anabolic, muscle-building effects. It is comprised of 70 different inter-connected amino acids and is produced when growth hormone levels in the bloodstream rise, increasing the production of binding proteins. IGF1 is known to be the mediator of growth hormone anabolic effects. As such, the interconnected relationship between IGF1 and growth hormone is frequently referred to as the Growth Hormone/IGF1 Axis.
The growth of skeletal muscle cells (hypertrophy) is largely regulated by at least three identified processes:
1) satellite cell activity
2) gene transcription
3) protein translation
Evidence indicates that IGF1 can positively influence each of these mechanisms. Research has shown that an increase of IGF1 in the bloodstreams spurs growth and regeneration by the body’s cells—particularly among skeletal muscle cells, where it is shown to positively impact muscle strength, size and efficiency. Specifically, it contributes to skeletal muscle growth (hypertrophy) by provoking the synthesis of protein while helping to block muscle atrophy.
Other cells that are positively affected by IGF1 include cartilage, liver, kidney, skin tissue, lung, nerve and bone. IGF1 deficiencies can result in stunted growth as well as a host of other related health problems. There are also indications that because it is capable of activating insulin receptors, IGF1 has the ability to complement and enhance insulin’s effects on muscle development. Because IGF1 levels are so closely tied to growth hormone levels, lower levels of growth hormone in the bloodstream correlate to similar reductions in the production of IGF1. As is the case with growth hormone, IGF1 production peaks during childhood and adolescence and declines as we get older.
We know that the ability of muscle cells to bet bigger and stronger is the result of their unique capacity to continuously adapt to the stress of resistance training with weights. Part of the cells’ capability to accomplish this remarkable feat is attributed to muscle precursor cells that reside in and around skeletal muscle cells. These precursor cells are often referred to as satellite cells. For the most part, satellite cells sit dormant until they are called into duty by hormones such as IGF1.
Once activated by IGF1 the satellite cells divide and their nuclei become genetically similar to those found in skeletal muscle cells. This is a process known as differentiation. Once the satellite cells’ nuclei become similar to those of skeletal muscle cells they become critical to muscle growth and development. This is because skeletal muscle cells must increase their number of nuclei in order to grow larger and repair themselves. The larger the muscle, the more nuclei it requires.
Whenever a muscle grows in response to the stress of resistance training with weights, you will always find a correlating increase in the number of nuclei within the skeletal muscle cells.
But this is not the only way that IGF1 facilitates muscle development, growth and repair. IGF1 also interacts with a number of different stress-activated proteins that assist in the regulation of reactions in the muscle cells that maintenance, repair and growth. When IGF1 binds with these various protein receptors it stimulates a host of biological processes that contribute to and regulate muscle cell growth and development.
There are a number of strategies you can employ to stimulate production of IGF1 in your body. First, because it stimulates a strong hormonal response, resistance training with weights will boost production of IGF1. In particular, it induces its most potent anabolic state in skeletal muscle cells during the intense physical stress generated by heavy weight lifting. This is due in part to the fact that lifting heavy weights stimulates the production of growth hormone, which in turn signals the liver to produce IGF1.
Nutrition also has a very strong effect on the body’s ability to manufacture IGF1. For example, a structured regimen that includes occasional fasting combined with periods of undereating has been shown to have a positive impact on the body’s production of IGF1. Note that carb intake has a significant influence on IGF1 production. Evidence indicates that carb consumption should be minimized to one meal per day or immediately after an exercise session. Overall it is important to maintain sufficient calorie intake and increase consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 not only enhances anabolic actions but it also assists in protecting against insulin resistance.
CLICK HERE to learn more about a step-by-step system for eating the right foods, at the right times, with the best training program for maximum anabolic hormone production.