How do your hormones help you build muscle? If your fitness goal is building muscle and losing fat, it’s crucial to maximize your body’s natural production of muscle building hormones. Hormones are chemical messengers that transmit information from one part of your body to another.
Glands produce most hormones throughout your body, collectively known as your “endocrine system.”
Muscle building (Anabolic) hormones
Hormones have varied but specific functions. The three hormones with the most significant influence on muscle are Testosterone, growth hormone (GH), and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1). These three hormones increase strength and help you build muscle. Supporting hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and glucagon increase glucose availability, your body’s primary source of energy to fuel your training.
During resistance training, growth hormone and testosterone directly compete with cortisol. In a well-planned strength training program, your training improves anabolic hormone release while training your body to minimize cortisol release with each workout. Cortisol in your bloodstream blocks the production and release of testosterone. More cortisol = less testosterone!
Heavy, high-intensity exercises like squats, deadlifts, and pull-ups with minimal rest time in between can naturally increase your body’s production and release of muscle building hormones. The more heavy and intense your workout, the more these hormones are released. Consistency is also key to retaining a steady flow of healthy hormones throughout your body.
Building muscle while you sleep
Your body repairs, recuperate, and rebuild as you sleep. To build muscle at rest, your body needs three critical hormones: cortisone, growth hormone, and testosterone. Also, if you don’t get a good night’s sleep each night, your lack of sleep will negatively affect those hormones. A lack of sleep lowers the available testosterone level, which means your muscle-building efforts won’t be effective. Finally, you will also experience decreased growth hormone levels resulting in less fat loss and a higher cortisone level, resulting in more fat being stored.
Here are four steps you can take to improve your levels of anabolic hormones:
1. Get 8 hours of sleep each night. As you sleep, protein metabolism occurs at a higher rate thanks to a spike in GH release within the first hour of restful sleep. Also, smaller bursts of GH are released every four hours. The more sleep you get, the more GH you produce.
2. Reduce your levels of stress. Practice meditation or yoga every day. Stress will quickly increase cortisol levels and reduce testosterone and GH levels.
3. Train with heavy, high-intensity exercises. Focus on compound, multi-joint exercises (squats, lunges, pull-ups, and presses) at high-intensity with minimal rest between sets to increase GH, IGF-1, and testosterone secretion.
4. Drink a high protein, low carbohydrate drink after training. This post-workout drink may be the most important “meal” of your training day. Finally, protein consumption immediately after a workout allows for the proper “building blocks” to be in plentiful supply, while adding some carbs will cause an insulin spike that will help move those muscle-building nutrients directly into your muscle cells.