“The idea that you can or should base entire exercise training programs on trying to manipulate testosterone or growth hormone levels is false. There is simply no evidence to support this concept.” says Stuart Phillips, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology to McMaster Press Flickr
Despite popular views on the body-building efficacy of hormonal steroids, scientists at McMaster University reveal that exercise-related testosterone and growth hormones do not play an influential role in building muscle after weightlifting.
Two separate studies published in the Journal of Applied Physiology and the European Journal of Applied Physiology suggest that those bodybuilders who look to manipulate those hormones through exercise routines are wasting their time.
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“A popular mindset for weightlifters is that increased levels of hormones after exercise play a key role in building muscle,” Daniel West, lead author of both studies and a graduate student in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster, tells university correspondents “That is simply not the case.”
Researchers found that anabolic hormones-ubiquitously thought to be essential for building a muscular frame-do not influence muscle protein synthesis, or the process that leads to bigger muscles.
“While testosterone is definitely anabolic and promotes muscle growth in men and women at high doses, such as those used during steroid abuse, our findings show that naturally occurring levels of testosterone do not influence the rate of muscle protein synthesis.”
In the first study, researchers asked male and female subjects to participate in an intense leg exercise. While the activity increased testosterone levels, the muscle mass of individuals were unaffected. The second study involved 56 male participants between 18 to 30-years-old, who were asked to train for five days a week for 12 weeks total.
Researchers found that their levels of testosterone and growth hormone after exercise showed “no relationship to muscle growth or strength gain.” However, according to West, researchers also found that a hormone called cortisol previously thought to be unrelated to building muscle building, as it breaks down tissue and reduces protein synthesis, plays a large role in building muscle.
This coincides with idea that you have to “break” your muscle in order to build it back up, causing an increase in muscle mass.