Exercise induced hormone changes do not promote muscular gains

Exercise induced endogenous hormone levels have been studied extensively. Researchers have examined how the different components of training including sets, repetitions, load and rest intervals affect serum levels of hormones such as testosterone, growth hormone and cortisol. Many studies have demonstrated there is an acute increase in serum levels of anabolic hormones after intense resistance exercise.

To be more specific, high intensity exercise coupled with short rest intervals that is performed with large muscle groups are associated with large rises in these hormones when compared to other training methods. Conversely, training small muscle groups like the biceps has been shown to have no effect on serum hormone levels. Because of the findings in many studies, training programs have been constructed to maximize the post-exercise rise in these hormones based on the assertion that exercise-induced increases in hormones like testosterone and GH will enhance muscle size and strength. But, considering the fact that these increases in hormone levels are very small and of short duration, will they produce muscular gains.

A study from the Kinesiology Dept. of McMaster University in Canada found that exercise induced hormone levels had no effect on muscle size or strength after 15 weeks of resistance training.

There is evidence that a minimal basal level of testosterone is required to support strength and hypertrophy gains, which are otherwise attenuated. Therefore, the hormone-sensitive processes that underpin muscle anabolism at hypo- and supra-physiological hormone levels are not being activated appreciably by exercise-induced increases in hormone availability or at least do not result in any measurable enhancement of strength or hypertrophy.

(J Appl Physiol 108(1); 2010)


Training Past 40

If you are approaching 40 years of age or beyond, you are probably starting to realize you can no longer train like you did in your twenties.? I learned this lesson the hard way.? At 36, I tore both quadriceps in seven places.? Thank God?the MRI revealed they were mainly fascia tears not requiring surgery.? None-the-less, I had to walk with crutches for a week. 18 weeks later, I tore my right hamstring.? At 38, I had to have my triceps reattached.? At 39, I partially (20%-25%) tore my right pec, but opted not to get surgery.

After that last injury I finally threw in the towel.? I thought my days of pushing my body with high intensity workouts were over.? Although, all the areas had been injured in previous years, I still trained in fear because none of these injuries had any preceding symptoms.? Consequently, my training?took on?a very slow tempo?with insufficient loads.??This type of training left me?feeling like shit, physically and mentally.? Why train at all if I can’t train hard.? Instead of training smart and doing what I should do for my body, I was too concerned with how I wanted to train.?

Almost to the day, a year after I tore my pec, I was so frustrated with my lack of progress, I decided something had to give.? I ended up going back to the basics.? I came to the realization I had to train myself as I would any other client.? I had to concern myself with what my body could and needed to do.???

The first thing I did was give up exercises that caused me pain no matter how much I loved performing them.? One of these, unfortunately, was the barbell squat.? With 3 bulging disks it’s not worth the pain or the risk.?? The second change I made was incorporating more functional exercises into my workouts.? These mainly included unilateral exercises and a few stability exercises.?

Perhaps the biggest change I’ve made is the way I approached my work sets.? Since I am no longer competing, there is no need for me to walk that tight rope between training with 100% intensity and injury.? Don’t get me wrong, I still perform my sets to failure, but will not train through pain.? I also stopped doing any kind of cheating at the end of my set to push the limits.

In order to make gains one has to pushing the limits, but it has?to be wrangled in.? For this to happen, the goals you set that govern drive must be adjusted to your current capabilities.? I have reached a point where I take my time with my goals by practicing wisdom not ego.? Through training smarter, I found a renewed vigor and enjoyment I had 20 years ago.


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