Somatropin hormone, or as it is more popular – growth hormone ( GH, HGH – Human Growth Hormone) has long been associated with accelerated muscle growth and increased fat melting.
It is considered that this is hardly the “holy grail” of muscular and clean physics.
Various training programs and dietary protocols are based entirely on its optimization, for a number of dietary supplements are alleged to increase its secretion.
In the next material, we will “figure out” how much we can influence growth hormone secretion, and does it make any sense at all.
General info about growth hormones in people body
Before we start with “ness,” we can’t help but briefly pretend the character on the current theme…
HGH is a peptide hormone (made up of 191 amino acids) that is emitted by adenohypophysis and regulates body growth, cell reproduction and regeneration.
It is not secreted constantly and in equal quantities, but several “pulsations” during the day, the strongest being soon after we fall asleep.
Its main effect on tissues can be described as anabolic (building) – in the period of growth stimulates, first of all, the prolongation of bones, and after puberty their thickening, as well as other tissues. Its anabolic effect HGH owes to its main mediator and it is the insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1).
IGF-1 is mainly secreted in the liver, and its production is stimulated by growth hormone. That is, the growth of each cell in the body, including skeletal musculature depends not on HGH directly, but on IGF-1.
Growth hormone can also be assigned to so-called stress hormones. Its secretion increases with stress (both physically and mentally).
A direct physiological effect is to stimulate fat cells to break down triglycerides (the level of free fatty acids in the blood rises) and reduce their ability to accumulate fat.
And along with other hormones (cortisol, glucagon) maintains a normal blood sugar level.
Inhibits the ability of insulin to stimulate glucose intake from tissues and the synthesis of glycogen in the liver.
Strange as it may be – it stimulates insulin production.
There are rare medical conditions associated with overproduction or insufficiency of XP.
Hypersecretion at a young age leads to a strong increase in height (up to 240-250 cm) – the so-called gigantism.
In adulthood, this leads to thickening of the bones and soft tissues, mainly of the face, feet and palms – a disease known as acromegaly.
At below normal levels during the period of growth, the growth of the individual slows down – the so-called. hypophysis dwarfs.
In adults, HGH deficiency is characterized by unfavorable body composition (less muscle mass, more body fat), impaired lipid metabolism, decreased bone density and increased risk of cardiovascular disease (especially if combined with overweight).
Ain factors that increase / suppress the secretion of HGH
Stimulators of natural production may be:
- Strength training for large muscle groups with shorter breaks;
- Aerobic tests;
- Increased sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen);
- Caloric constraint;
- Protein restriction;
- Fasting (fasting);
- Deep sleep;
- Some dietary supplements;
The main reasons for reducing secretion are:
- Hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar);
- Hyperinsulinaemia (high insulin);
More muscular whit Growth Hormone ?
As I mentioned at the beginning – the perception that growth hormone is hardly the “magic wand” through which you will literally transform into a muscular machine is extremely common.
There are several reasons for this belief.
The first (and I think basic) are the huge professional bodybuilders who inject themselves daily with large amounts of growth hormone.
What is missed, however, is that: 1) the quantities used far exceed what the body can synthesize naturally 2) also use large amounts of testosterone, insulin and many other medications that are the basis of everything, but also enhance the anabolic effect of growth hormone.
The second reason is the establishment of a false causative link such as:
“It’s an anabolic hormone, isn’t it?” And anabolic means muscles.
Growth hormone is anabolic for all tissues in the body and only for muscles in particular. Indeed, if for any reason (mostly medical) a person has underweight levels of growth hormone, then his external intake will slightly increase muscle mass, reduce fat and improve quality of life (1).
But then it’s a medical condition, not healthy people with normal levels of HGH.
The third reason, in my opinion, is the high cost of synthetic growth hormone. It can’t be that expensive and not super efficient, can it?…
The reasons are sufficient to mythologize growth hormone, but not justified to validate the claims about its effect. So let’s see what the facts are…
What does the science of muscular hypertophysy say?
It has long been known that multi-joint training and short breaks can significantly increase HGH during exercise compared to isolating exercises for small groups.
On this information are based a number of training programs, the purpose of which is to maximize the secretion of growth hormone during exercise.
In fact, these programs may be effective, but the reason are basic movements that allow to achieve greater training volume and make easier power progress. And not the higher levels of HGH as a concern.
A 2009 study (2), published in The Journal of Physiology, tested 8 healthy young men (~20 years old) with two training protocols – LH (Low Hormone) and HH (High Hormone). The first day is performed an isolating exercise for biceps (“scotch” folding with cable) with only one hand (LH protocol).
The next day, the same workout is performed with the other hand, but then supplemented with a heavy leg exercise with short breaks to increase HGH synthesis (HH protocol).
The increase in HGH during exercise with the HH protocol is about 8! compared to the LH protocol. But the difference in muscle protein synthesis does not mean that the conclusion is that 8 times higher LEVELS of HGH will not lead to greater muscle hypertrophy.
Very often increased protein synthesis is used as a synonym for hypertrophy, but both can not always mean the same thing. Therefore, the same researchers did another study a year later (3).
It involved 12 healthy young men (~22 years old) and the design was broadly similar, but the study lasted 15 weeks (during which a total of 56 drills – x 28 by hand) were performed), and hypertophilia was measured by MRI and biopsy.
But again, no difference in hypertrophy was found in both protocols (LH versus HH).
A twelve-week study from 2012 with 56 men also did not make a link between short-term HGH peaks (as well as testosterone) and muscle hypertrophy (4).
Okay, let’s assume that the HGH increased during exercise has no effect on the muscles.
But what if we can increase it more significantly and/or over a longer period of time?
A double-blind placebo-controlled randomized study published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism (5) tested the external intake of growth hormone on strength and muscle mass. Eighteen healthy grown men (65-82 years) perform strength training with progressive load 3 times a week for the whole body.
After 14 weeks (during which they noted a similar growth in strength and muscle mass as measured by biopsy) were divided into two groups.
The experimental group took growth hormone at 20 mcg per kilogram of body weight daily for 10 weeks.
For most of you, this hardly says anything, so I will “translate” it like this: for an 80 kg individual, that’s almost 5 IU hr per day. After 10 weeks, the experimental group did not score better strength progress or more muscle hypertrophy than the placebo group.
The situation was similar in another similar study a year earlier, published in the same journal (6). Similar hormone intake (12.5-24 mcg/ kg), similar age (~67 years), 16 weeks during which force training is exercised 4 times a week (75-90% of 1MP).
After all, there was no difference in strength growth and muscle mass relative to the placebo group.
The experimental group noted a slight increase in “pure” weight, but entirely at the expense of water retention and an increase in connective tissue, not muscle mass.
Many of you may have heard that in order to manifest its anabolic effect, HGH should be taken quite an extended period of time (not that 10 and 16 weeks is a little time). In 2013, a six-month study (7) was conducted with 14 healthy adult men (50-70 years old without HGH deficiency) who were divided into two groups.
The experimental group took 0.5 IU growth hormone (Pfizer Genotropin) who you can buy from HGHservice daily in the first month, 1.0 IU in the second and 1.5 IU for the remaining six months.
There was no difference in body composition compared to the placebo group, nor in upper body strength, only the strength for the lower part (tested on a leg press) increased slightly for the HGH group.
And in order not to think that the problem in the above studies is that it is elderly people, a double-blind placebo-controlled study (8) tests the effect of HGH in young men (21-34 years).
In 12 weeks, the control group gets 40! growth hormone during training days (5 days per week). Again, no difference in strength growth and muscle mass was described.
A study from 2010 concluded that intake of 33 to 50 mcg per kg daily for a period of 14 days (these are 8-12! IU if you weigh 80 kg) stimulates collagen synthesis, but not protein synthesis in muscles (9).
Beyond all the scientific facts available, think about the following: patients with over-production of HGH do not become more muscular. What grows are bones and connective tissue…