6 main hormones should be under control to build a muscle mass, and the normal testosterone and HGH levels are the most important.
The secretion of growth hormone and testosterone declines with age. Because these hormones have prominent anabolic effects on skeletal muscle, part of the age-related decrease in muscle mass and strength has been attributed to declining levels of these hormones.
Short-term growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor 1 treatment have reduced protein loss and improved function during acute catabolic states. Although testosterone replacement has increased lean body mass and improved the sense of well-being, the functional benefit has not been clearly demonstrated, and the risks of long-term replacement have not been defined.
Let’s review 6 main hormones to control the building of muscle mass.
6 Hormones to Control for Advanced Muscle Building Results
Muscle growth and fat loss, two key prerequisites to showcasing your stage-ready, beach-worthy body, are, in many respects, contingent upon the optimization of the big two bodybuilding hormones: growth hormone (GH) and testosterone (T). Critical as they may be to dialing down (fat) and building up (muscle).
Testosterone and growth hormone also rely upon the manipulation of a supporting cast of additionally important shape-defining hormones to work their anabolic magic, insulin and thyroid hormone, while the less beneficial, estrogen and cortisol are kept at bay.
As regulatory biochemicals produced by endocrine glands and transported by the circulatory system to target organs to coordinate our physiology and the behavior of our cells, hormones control much of what makes us human: from attraction to appetite to the nerves we feel when confronted with a high-risk activity (like squatting 500lbs) our hormones guide the choices we make and how our personality unfolds.
Hormones are essential to ensuring productive workouts and optimal training results.
The interplay and constant fluctuation of our body’s hormonal balance may work to our muscle-building advantage, or create a litany of problems, including a sluggish metabolic rate, failure to properly recover between workouts, low energy levels, and hampered protein synthesis. While pounding down the protein and training with back-breaking weights may help you to craft the physique you want, to truly maximize yourself in gym progress you must also ensure your hormone levels are up to the challenge or suppressed accordingly.
The king of all bodybuilding hormones, testosterone (the principal male hormone responsible for building muscle size and strength) promotes the growth of many bodily tissues and is essential for health and well-being. Also produced by women (though 7-8 times less than it is for men), testosterone is one hormone that must be kept elevated in as high a quantity as possible to ensure constant results.
Since the test is essential for increasing protein synthesis to build more muscle at a faster rate, and, considering its influence on keeping growth hormone levels sufficiently high to burn body fat, its depletion will significantly curtail our chances of gaining lean muscle mass.
#2: Growth Hormone (GH)
Growth hormone, which stimulates growth, cell reproduction, and the release of insulin-like growth factor (to boost protein synthesis), is an integral component in supporting fat burning and safeguarding against muscle losses.
As with testosterone, GH production is to be encouraged in healthy trainees. The more, the better. While dieting, many of us lose muscle weight along with body fat; a natural consequence of aerobic training combined with intensive weight training and low fat/low-calorie eating. A drop in muscle may then result in a lowered metabolic rate, and less fat burning. It is therefore essential that we maintain muscle while getting lean, one of the toughest training dilemmas the natural bodybuilder will ever face.
Unlike naturally released GH and testosterone, insulin is one hormone that has the potential for doing either great good or much harm. It must therefore be manipulated accordingly. Released in excessive amounts at the wrong times, insulin, produced by the beta cells of the pancreas and central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism, may promote fat storage. Used strategically, however, it may create an anabolic environment to elevate muscle gains and promote fat loss.
In a calorie-controlled pre-contest diet, for example, low insulin levels at rest (between training sessions and, especially, before bed) may assist fat burning while high levels in and around training may promote the rapid uptake into our muscles of amino acids and glycogen, both essential for building more size.
#4: Thyroid Hormone
Primarily responsible for the regulation of our metabolism, the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) also support protein synthesis and fat loss. A major problem with all calorie-restricted diets is the concomitant diminishing of thyroid hormone levels. When thyroid levels drop, we experience a corresponding reduction in protein synthesis, calorie-burning, and metabolism, and our gains may begin to stagnate.
While the stress hormone cortisol (a glucocorticoid steroid) may burn body fat, and indeed some bodybuilders deliberately overtrain so as to boost its production to put the finishing touches on their shredding efforts, its effects are mostly negative.
Among its many deleterious actions, cortisol shrinks the thymus gland, a key immune system regulator, thereby signaling immune cells to shut down and die. We may, as a consequence, become more susceptible to various illnesses. Aside from impairing our immune system, cortisol may also promote muscle wastage, fat gain, heart disease, and diabetes, not to mention mood swings, depression, generalized fatigue, and insomnia. Needless to say, cortisol is one hormone that bodybuilders and fitness devotees can all do without.
A hormone produced mostly in females but also to a lesser degree in men (for sperm production and bone maintenance), estrogen (steroidal compounds integral to both menstrual and estrous reproductive cycles) runs counter to bodybuilding and fat loss success. Excess estrogen may even contribute to prostate and breast cancer. Men with a higher body fat percentage are also shown to have elevated estrogen levels.
Affecting the way we look and feel is the body’s testosterone to estrogen ratio: a superior ratio for maximal lean muscle gains would see testosterone production high and estrogen output at minimal levels.
Are your testosterone, growth hormone, and thyroid hormone levels sufficiently high, so as to encourage rapid fat burning and consistent muscle growth? Are your estrogen and cortisol low enough to preclude their combined catabolic effects? Is your insulin under control, increased, or decreased according to your training goals? Answer yes to all of the above and you are well on your way to achieving a head-turning physique to be proud of.
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