Growth Hormone is the Key behind Fat Loss, Lean Muscle Growth and Performance Enhancement
By, Mark Wine CSCS; USAW; NASM PT, PES, CES
It is a common practice for strength and conditioning coaches / personal trainers to inquire with prospective clients / athletes about their training goals. Athletes often answer “I want to increase strength, power and sport performance.” Fitness persons often answer “I want to lose weight and get lean and tone.” For both the athlete and fitness enthusiast growth hormone production is the key behind strength, hypertrophy, power, fat loss, lean muscle growth, performance and more…
Growth hormone has recently received a bad reputation due to drug abuse in professional baseball. Numerous big name players became the poster boys for performance enhancement (ergogenic) aids. Although the most commonly thought of performance enhancing drug is steroids, growth hormone always makes the bad list. When referring to growth hormone throughout the articles we are referring to growth hormone produced within the body and not injected.
Growth hormone is a natural produced hormone that is stimulated through resistance training and supplementing with various amino acids. In regards to training, large volumes and short rest periods have proven to significantly increase growth hormone production. Growth hormone is a critical component in performance and composition. Numerous studies have shown that an elevation in growth hormone levels will drastically reduce body fat levels. For example, a moderately intense thirty minute workout can elevate growth hormone by over 200 percent. However, a 60 minute workout that utilizes proper variables (i.e. reps, weight, sets, and rest periods) can drastically increase growth hormone levels by more.
The most typical growth hormone producing workout utilizes a set range from 3 to 5; a repetition range from 10 to 12; and minimal rest, 45-90 seconds, in between sets. Other growth hormone producing workout techniques are extending sets through super-sets, performing drop sets and/or through slow and controlled repetition speeds.
- 3-5 sets of 10-12 repetitions for a total of 4 exercises per body part or total body complex lifts (i.e. deadlifts or squats). The rest period for this protocol is 60 seconds or less.
- 5-6 sets of 5 repetitions while performing compound exercises with repetition speeds of 2-4 seconds down (i.e. eccentric). When utilizing long sets such as this, rest as much as you need. However, try and keep it to less than 2 minutes because GH is best increased with short rest periods and heavier loads. If you are working for pure strength than extend your rest times to 3-5 minutes.
- Super set two exercises. Performing one exercise followed by another exercise is difficult to accomplish and requires the utmost level of intensity. The amount of energy and muscle required to power through these fatiguing sets will drastically increase GH levels.
- Perform 3-4 exercises back-to-back in a circuit format that utilizes heavy weights. This constant work format will increase the volume of the workout. For example, perform 5 reps of squats; followed by 5 reps of bench; followed by 5 reps of pull ups (weighted); and finally followed by 5 reps of military press. Although these are all common compound lifts, they all require maximal effort from multiple muscles. This protocol will decrease some strength potential because of the minimal rest time. However, for the fitness enthusiast, slightly decreasing strength potential to drastically increase fat loss and lean muscle growth is worth it.
Weightlifting is not the only way to increase growth hormone levels. Supplementing Arginine into your diet can significantly increase growth hormone levels. Arginine increases blood flow within the body by increasing nitric oxide production. Arginine is most commonly supplemented as a pre-workout performance aid because of the “pump” it provides during a workout; the pump is due to the amount of blood flowing into the muscles.
Arginine supplementation is not just for enhancing ones workout. In fact, arginine can also be utilized for recovery and muscular growth. Supplementing with arginine can significantly increase growth hormone levels while aiding in recovery. For serious fitness enthusiasts and athletes arginine should be considered mandatory. The increased absorption levels results in increased blood flow. Blood flow is the key behind decreasing muscular soreness and general health. Lifting heavier weights causes tissue damage and blood flow removes any by-products of that, thus decreasing soreness. To recover from injuries and other ligament / tendon damage, blood flow is a must. Blood flow removes damaged scar tissue and promotes new tissue growth. This is essential for strains, tears and soreness.
Increased growth hormone production is essential for lean muscle growth, fat loss, strength, power, muscular hypertrophy, and many other performance related results. Training programs must include phases during the program that specifically focus on growth hormone production. Growth hormone production through supplementation with pre-workouts and recovery aids can be another helpful tool to produce maximal training results.
Copyright Functional Muscle Fitness LLC © 2012
- Thomas R. Baechle and Roger W. Earle. The Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning (3rd edition). National Strength and Conditioning Association. ©2008, 2000, 1994