Hormones for Muscle Building
Everyone is stronger or bigger than you. They have to be using steroids, they have to be using exogenous hormones to get their massive look and incredible gains! Is there a way to trigger hormones effectively without the usage of anabolic steroids? Can we harness those hormones accordingly to lead to massive gains in muscle building?
Training and Hormonal Response
There is significant evidence that resistance training can stimulate a positive response to anabolic hormones throughout the body. By forcing a hypertrophic adaptation, scientists have seen that hormones are responsible for satellite cell mobilization and various hormones also stimulate and optimize muscle protein synthesis. We are going to dive into this topic to understand what athletes and coaches can do to stimulate a higher hormonal response and how this can have a positive impact on muscle building gains from a hypertrophic and strength perspective.
Insulin-Like Growth Factor or IGF-1
IGF-1 has a similar structure to the hormone insulin and has numerous different aspects that impact hypertrophy. It is found in satellite cells and myofibers, both of which are key to increasing size and strength. It also causes the activation of satellite cells which leads to an increase in strength and muscular density. When it is elevated, it converts to mechano growth factor, a key hormone in muscle protein synthesis.
MGF increases protein synthesis and is heightened throughout the body for up to 72 hours. When we engage in resistance training, we stimulate IGF-1 which converts to MGF and ultimately leads to an enhanced level of protein usage over those 72 hours. This hormone is the reason why we don’t necessarily need to eat protein immediately post-workout. Instead, eating large amounts of protein throughout the day can be plenty to provide our body with the necessary means to renovate damaged muscle sites. MGF is doing most of its renovation during the sleep period, which also provides the absolute necessity behind an optimized sleep schedule!
Released from the Leidig cells, this hormone is incredibly anabolic! Testosterone increases by a large amount during resistance training and also leads to a spike in growth hormone. When testosterone spikes growth hormone, we see an increase in the metabolizing of fatty acids. Testosterone also increases muscle protein synthesis while mobilizing satellite cells to renovate the damaged sites on myofibers during myofibrillar hypertrophy (video or blog link) training. Growth hormone also increases the conversion of IGF-1 into mechano growth factor. This all commenced from the initiation of testosterone release from hypertrophic training.
Testosterone also causes muscle building through greater protein synthesis. It enables amino acids to be released which then are utilized to create more sarcomeres, ultimately leading to greater levels of strength. Importantly, studies have shown that 6-10 sets of exercises for specific movements will lead to a greater response in testosterone release. Not only is testosterone release relevant to the number of sets but also relevant to the number muscles being used during exercise, meaning bigger compound movements will lead to greater testosterone release!
What can we do?
By increasing hormone release, we will trigger an increase in hormone receptor interactions. The receptors are present throughout the body and an increase in hormones will bind to the receptors which will magnify the effect and activation of the satellite cells. This will also lead to an increase in deposited collagen fibers inside the tendons, the tendons then transmit to the muscle with how much force needs to be utilized. The matrix around the muscle fiber then increases and does contribute to hypertrophy. Now this leads to greater strength and size and even bone mineral density, making resistance training a great form of exercise even for osteoporosis.
As coaches and athletes, we need to ensure that we are programming large, compound movements like squats and front squats and deadlifts and cleans and snatches over 6-10 sets to establish a large hormonal response. By nurturing the body through proper nutritional practices and sleeping well, the athlete should fully be capable of optimizing their muscle building gains due to optimized hormonal response!
Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of elite athletes building comprehensive programs for strength and sports performance. Several times a year he leads a seminar for coaches, trainers, and athletes.
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