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).
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.
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.
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…
by Sol Orwell of Examine.com
Getting enough sleep is absolutely vital to maintaining a high quality of life. Unfortunately, it takes time and commitment. If you don’t respect sleep, not only will you find yourself struggling in your daily life, but your gym performance and overall life expectancy will fall.
What happens when sleep is impaired?
Missing one night of sleep is not too bad. Physical performance is largely unaffected, and most parameters of mental health remain stable, apart from the occasional spike in afternoon fatigue. Most negative effects of sleep loss appear when sleep is poor every night, for a prolonged period of time.
Consistent poor sleep is associated with the following:
- An altered hormonal profile (your leptin, testosterone, growth hormone and cortisol levels might change for the worse).
- Reductions in muscle growth and increased fat gain over time.
- Reduced cognitive potential, usually in regards to judgement and interpersonal interactions.
- Reduced recovery rates.
Long-term adverse health effects include an increased risk for cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. Considering that sleep was recently found to clear toxic compounds from the brain, it seems prudent to find time for bedtime.
How can I easily optimize sleep?
Making sure your sleeping habits are ideal are equal parts habit, environment, and supplements. If your sleeping habits and environment are not up to par, dedicate time to improving them before moving onto supplements.
Sleep in the same place every night. Your body will enjoy the familiarity and get more rest. Attempt to ease your mind before trying to fall asleep. It can help to externalize your worries by keeping a diary or to-do list, or meditating. The more relaxed your brain is, the better you will sleep.
During the early stages of sleep, your body can and will respond to changes in your environment, possibly leading you to waking up when you would’ve just preferred to stay asleep. A good sleep environment is one with very little noise and a stable, not-too-warm temperature. If your mattress likes to surprise you by poking you with springs in your sleep, consider a new mattress.
While getting ready for bed, try to limit your exposure to light. Excessive light will limit your body’s production of melatonin, which is essential for a good night’s sleep. Try to stay away from LED or fluorescent lights 30 minutes before bed, or download f.lux if you must be online immediately before bed.
Supplementation should be resorted to if managing your habits and environment doesn’t produce your desired quality of sleep. Melatonin is great for people that have trouble falling asleep, but are fine once actually snoozing.
Glycine can help if you have no issue falling asleep, but wake up too often. Lemon balm is a good way to reduce intrusive
thoughts before bed. Keep in mind, melatonin is less effective during the day, while lemon balm makes a horrible pre-workout.
What can I do if I slept badly but need to function at peak capacity?
Whether you couldn’t sleep the night before your first powerlifting meet, or you had to stay up to finish an assignment, there are a few things you can do to ensure you function well the day after a terrible night.
Your first option is caffeine, though try your best to time it well. Since fatigue associated with poor sleep occurs in the early afternoon, taking caffeine between 9 and 10 a.m. will counteract that fatigue best. Too early, and you’ll need another dose at noon. Too late, and you’ll be impairing your ability to fall asleep when you need to.
Do your best to go to bed earlier the next night. This is known as recompensatory sleep, and while there are limits to it, try to catch up with an extra hour or two of sleep the day after you sleep poorly.
Creatine has also been found to preserve cognitive function during sports during instances of sleep deprivation.
All of the scientific research presented in the Supplement-Goals Reference Guide (over 2000 references) is human studies. While they factor in animal studies and in vitro studies while building up their knowledge on topics, they do not include them in their conclusions.
Supplementation is interesting field. Some people rely too much on supplements while others totally dismiss them as useless. This non-biased guide will help you decide for yourself.
I bought a copy for everyone on my staff to reference.
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.
Attention Men and Women: If you’ve been struggling to lose those last 10 to 15 pounds, battling with slow fat loss, OR suffering from nagging “problem area” fat storage in your lower body, love handles, or belly this could be the most important web page you ever read. http://www.finalphasefatburning.com
Research on SEX, TESTOSTERONE…and MUSCLE
“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”.
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:
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.
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: