Hormones and bodybuilding are inextricably linked! To build muscle, your body has to go through numerous processes, and those processes happen more efficiently because of hormones. Ergo, the more hormones you have available (the right kind anyway), the better your results will be.
There are several important hormones in bodybuilding. And the study of hormones and their actions is called endocrinology.
Several Hormones Related to Bodybuilding That You Need to Know
While you don’t need to be an endocrinologist to get the most from bodybuilding training, a little knowledge about the relevant hormones can be useful.
Let’s take a look at the matter of Hormones:
1. How Does Testosterone Support Bodybuilding?
Testosterone is an anabolic and androgenic hormone which means it is responsible for muscle growth (anabolic) as well as the development of masculine traits such as beard growth and a deep voice (androgenic). Men have approximately ten-times more testosterone than women which is why they generally have a more comfortable time building muscle.
Exercises like squats and heavy deadlifts have been shown to increase testosterone levels significantly, as has a diet rich in healthy fats.
Steroids are synthetic testosterone, so they can be harmful for your health. However, there is a safe testosterone booster which will help to improve your testosterone levels naturally.
2. How Does Insulin Impact Bodybuilding?
Insulin drives nutrients into your cells, such as amino acids and glucose into your muscles. This speeds up your recovery after exercise, which means insulin is an anabolic hormone. Unfortunately, insulin can also interfere with fat burning, so it’s essential to try and make insulin work for rather than against you.
The best way to do this is to time your carbohydrate intake around exercise. Carbs before training ensure you have plenty of energy to work out and carbs after kickstart your recovery. The rest of the time, carbs will interfere with fat burning and are likely to be stored as fat. If you are predominately sedentary, other than hitting the gym, avoiding carbs (except before and after training) can help keep you lean.
If you are interested in an overview of the interaction between insulin/blood sugar/carbs can be found in this excellent article by the Harvard School of Public Health.
3. Cortisol – Not Good, Especially for Bodybuilding!
Cortisol is a catabolic hormone meaning it promotes muscle break down. Subsequently, it’s important to try and minimize its production. Cortisol is produced when you are stressed, not getting enough sleep or haven’t eaten enough food. To get the most from your training, try to keep a lid on cortisol by avoiding stress, getting enough sleep, and eating every few waking hours.
Adrenaline is your “flight or fight” hormone. If you want to perform at your best in the gym, you need adrenaline. You’ll do more reps or lift more weight is you are “psyched up.” The key to harnessing the powerful benefits of adrenaline is to able to turn it on and off at will.
This comes with practice. For some people, this means imagining life or death scenarios in your mind or conjuring up aggressive images. For others, it’s almost like flicking a switch. Either way, increased adrenaline and aggression in the gym or on the sports pitch will result in better performance.
Every hormone has an opposite, and for testosterone, its opposite is estrogen. Where testosterone is masculine, estrogen is feminine. Estrogen promotes fat gain, which is why women tend to have more body fat than men.
A bad diet, too many environmental toxins, too much soya and damage to the testes can lead to a man having elevated estrogen levels and, subsequently, diminished testosterone levels. Needless to say, this can make losing fat and gaining muscle very hard indeed.
6. Human Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone, or HGH for short, is an anabolic hormone. However, unlike testosterone, is not androgenic. That means it influences muscle growth without effecting masculinity. Men and women both produce growth hormone.
HGH is most abundant during your teen “growth spurt” years, and production decreases with the advancing years, which is one of the reasons we age.
Of all the hormones, HGH is arguably the most important for bodybuilding because it is responsible for muscle growth and fat burning. That’s why many people take growth hormone pills.
Growth hormone pills DO NOT contain actual growth hormone but are designed to increase your natural production of HGH.
HGH injections, on the other hand, while often administered in anti-aging clinics under strict medical supervision, are not guaranteed to be safe or effective and can cause systemic tissue growth.
This is the reason why you might see professional bodybuilders with massive guts despite the fact they have very low body fat. Quite literally, their internal organs have grown!
HGH can also affect the size of your nose and ears, feet and hands and can give you a large, protruding jawline and forehead if taken in large doses. These side-effects are not usually reversible.
Growth hormone is also very expensive and, if you buy it on the black market, there is no guarantee you are getting a legitimate product.
Rather than expose yourself to the risk using HGH, there are several boosters designed to maximize your body’s ability to produce growth hormone naturally, so-called HGH supplements – such as GenF20 Plus and HGH-X2.
By optimizing your own HGH production, you can the benefits of increased amounts of growth hormone with none of the risks.
Optimizing Hormone Levels
While supplementation can help optimize your hormone levels, a healthy diet is equally, if not more important. Plenty of protein, healthy fats, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, plus nuts and seeds, will ensure you have all the nutrients necessary to keep your endocrine system functioning properly.
Success in bodybuilding is not just about training and pill-popping, it’s also about health. So eat for health, and you’ll get much better results from your training.