Are you looking to get more out of your workout? What about increasing
your strength, power, speed, and overall muscular development?
Exercise is the key to progress, however hormones play the critical role in
allowing that progress to happen. Simply put, hormones are chemical
messengers produced and released by our endocrine glands. They have a
myriad of responsibilities in the body, but this article will mostly focus on
their role in building muscle and strength.
Structuring your workouts accordingly has the ability to naturally optimize
hormone production, getting the results you seek for so long! Just continue
reading and find out how!
The Important Hormones
All hormones have an important role in the body, however some are more
imperative for our fitness progress.
There are two main categories, catabolic and anabolic hormones.
Catabolic hormones, such as cortisol, attempt to break down protein (muscle)
to support certain aspects of our metabolism. On the other side, we have
anabolic hormones like testosterone and growth hormone which help regulate
optimal muscle protein synthesis, resulting in stronger and bigger muscles (1).
- Testosterone - is probably the most well-known hormone, and its
primary role is related to muscle growth. It can also aid in fat burning
and in the maintenance of sexual health.
- Growth hormone – aids in muscular adaptions and overall muscle
preservation. Growth hormone allows proper amino acid uptake at all
cellular levels, promoting muscle growth.
- Cortisol – depending on the situation, this hormone can break down
amino acids in the muscle, converting them into carbohydrates which
are then used for energy.
- Insulin – is released by our pancreas and can affect the body both in a
positive and negative way. Insulin can promote muscle building,
however it can also help fat accumulation.
- Glucagon – has a parallel role to insulin. Insulin lowers blood sugar
levels, and glucagon is there to raise the blood sugar when needed.
Hormones and Muscular Development
The process of muscle building involves disturbance of fibers, inflammatory
responses, and hormonal interactions which ultimately lead to new muscle
The goal with resistance training is to increase protein synthesis and decrease
protein breakdown. You can accomplish this with an adequate diet, proper
recovery, and optimal hormonal balance. The hormonal production that
occurs during and after your training provides signals regarding the
physiological stressors the body is undergoing. From there, your body
takes this information and responds to it by growing bigger and stronger (2).
Training Tips for Faster Progress
Hormonal responses greatly depend on your resistance training and muscle
With the following tips you can ensure successful hormonal responses after
every workout session.
1. Structuring Your Workout
When deciding on which exercises to add to your regime, always aim for
movements that target the greatest amount of muscle. Good examples include
squats, deadlifts, clean and jerk, presses, etc. By recruiting various muscle
groups at once you raise the potential of remodeling them bigger and
It is also crucial to switch up your exercise technique from time to time, in
order to prevent slow progress. For example, alter your bench angle, go for
decline instead of incline.
2. Exercise Order
Start your workout with big compound movements, as the one listed above,
and then move towards isolation exercises that target smaller muscle groups.
Training larger muscles before the smaller ones induces a higher level of
testosterone and growth hormone, creating a more muscle-building
environment. So, spare your bicep curls for the end of your workout, and
focus on the big lifts.
If you’re really looking to see faster progress, you simply have to lift heavy.
Avoid going under 85% of your one-rep max, and try to shoot for the 85-95%
range. The force generated from working with heavy weights activates the
motor-units which are not stimulated enough with lighter weights. Push
yourself to the limit and increase the potential for an exceptional hormonal
and muscle response.
Workout volume is another factor that can boost your growth. A moderate or
high volume of exercise has been shown to elicit optimal hormonal
responses. Now since you are working with a heavy load, the number of
repetitions performed will be lower. Therefore, a high volume requires
multiple sets of different exercises in order to be appropriate.
5. Rest Periods
The last factor you need to optimize is the rest period between sets. Studies
have concluded different results, however it is believed that a rest period
between 60-90 seconds may be the way to go. During this time frame your
body will most likely be able to properly recover from the previous set, still
keeping you in the adequate state for muscle building and hormone
Steroids and various synthetic hormones are popular nowadays. They can
bring short-term results, however they also carry big health risks.
Luckily, you can naturally boost hormone production through exercise using
heavy weight, moderate or high volume, and fairly short rest periods. Besides
proper training, don’t forget to eat healthy, avoid processed food and sugar,
alcohol, and sleep at least 8 hours every night.