Factor No.1- Amino acids reserves in the cell

If translated, that means: constant supply of amino acids to the amino acid pool around the muscle cell every 3 – 4 hours. As a first resort during non-training periods, we turn to slow-release protein foods: meat, eggs, dairy products, etc. We leave whey protein for pre- and post-workout meals.

Factor No.2- Anabolic Hormones In The Blood

Which hormones have an anabolic effect?

  • Testosterone
  • Growth hormone
  • Insulin

One more clarification: we are not discussing performance-enhancing substances (doping) here, but the natural production of these hormones.

The second, third and fourth factors in this hypothesis are directly related to the nature of your workout (a high-intensity one).

Testosterone– it is produced in the body from cholesterol, i.e. in order to maintain optimal levels of this hormone, we need to get some saturated fat. Androgenic hormones (testosterone and dihydrotestosterone) rise after brief, high-intensity activities, while prolonged activities (mostly aerobic ones) lead to the gradual decrease in the levels of these hormones. Workouts intended to develop strength (strength training) lead to increased testosterone concentration in the blood. The gradual decrease of testosterone production in men past 30 years of age leads to unfavorable changes in the body. The well-known extract of Tribulus Terrestris can be used to naturally stimulate testosterone production. It increases testosterone levels by 30% and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels by 70%. The average amount of testosterone produced by a man is between 8 and 10 mg/day.

Growth hormone– a peptide hormone that is well known by athletes and is synthesized by the anterior pituitary gland (adenohypophysis) from amino acids in the body.

Its biochemical functions are, as follows:

It enhances the synthesis of proteins (collagen) in the bones and muscles;

It enhances the synthesis of proteoglycans for the needs of the growing bones and cartilage tissue;

It also enhances the synthesis of proteins in the liver, as well as the beta-oxidation of fatty acids and the gluconeogenesis from glycerol (i.e. the conversion of fats into glucose).

Its production in the body starts decreasing after the 30th year of life and virtually stops at about 50 years of age.

What is the best way to keep the level of growth hormone up for a long time? High-intensity workouts at 70-100% of your maximum capacity for a relatively short duration (60 – 90 minutes).

The somatotropin level in the blood increases with the increase in workload. In prolonged (aerobic) low-intensity activities (10 – 15% VO2 max), plasma levels increase slightly 30 to 60 minutes after the activity is discontinued. In high-intensity repetitive activities (strength training), the somatotropin concentration increases much more substantially (up to 20 times!).

There is an increased production of growth hormone also during sleep when eating protein-rich food and in hypoglycemic conditions (lack of glucose in the blood in connection with low carbohydrate diets).
The natural production of growth hormone can also be stimulated by individual free amino acids intake in certain combinations: arginine pyroglutamate – lysine, or by separate intake of GABA, glutamine, tyrosine, etc.

What conclusion can we draw from the discussion of the previous two hormones?

In monotonous aerobic training, for example, running, cycling, swimming, etc., which is used by many people to maintain “optimum” health and lose body fat, we actually lack the much needed natural hormonal stimulation that improves recovery, performance at work and impacts our metabolism to a much higher extent. A high-intensity strength workout actually indirectly influences body fat loss (also by depletion of the glycogen reserves in connection with low carbohydrate diets) and metabolism more than an aerobic workout.

Insulin– this is a peptide made of two small peptide chains, consisting of a total of 51 amino acids.

The biochemical effects of insulin are, as follows:

It enhances the uptake of blood glucose by the muscles and the adipose tissue and also by the liver;

It decreases the breakdown of fats and increases their synthesis in the adipose tissue and in the liver;

It enhances the uptake of amino acids by the blood and their use for the synthesis of proteins in different tissues, especially in the muscles.

As you can see, an increased secretion of insulin is contraindicated in fat loss diets. However, for our purpose, namely, to build muscle mass, the right manipulation of its natural production can come in handy. The increased secretion of insulin is stimulated by the intake of the so-called high-glycemic carbohydrates (which are not necessarily simple ones). We can maximize the anabolic effect of all food substances we ingest with several meals of this type throughout the day until 6 p.m. If you work out in the evening, for example at around 7 p.m., you can use an insulin spike right after your workout, and your next meal will consist of complex carbohydrates with a relatively low glycemic index. Simple carbohydrates or high-glycemic foods intake before bed is wrong for two reasons (an exception is up to 50 grams of fructose – fruit sugar): firstly, it is highly likely that some of them will turn into fat and be stored in your adipose tissue; and secondly, a very important reason: since insulin partly antagonizes growth hormone (when the concentration of one in the blood is higher, the concentration of the other one is lower), the secretion of the latter will be suppressed during sleep. Enough about anabolic hormones.

How can we summarize this information: nature obviously took care of everything, when creating a body as perfect in biochemical and physiological terms as the human body. In high-intensity strength workouts, there is increased secretion of testosterone and growth hormone, which also implies increased muscle mass growth in the context of a sufficient intake of macronutrients and kilocalories, this process, in turn, is stimulated by the increase in appetite. Actually, this is an adaptation mechanism of the body which allows it to cope with higher and higher-intensity anaerobic activities. What is the limit of human performance? I will discuss this later in the book.

This also explains why prolonged low-intensity aerobic activities not only do not lead to increased testosterone secretion, but clinical studies show that testosterone concentration in the blood actually decreases. Why is that? Because a marathon runner or cross-country skier does not need muscle mass. It would only slow him down in the performance of his job. Adaptation processes and hormonal regulation are directly dependent on the nature of the activity and the human body produces a direct hormonal response depending on the particular athletic activity.

Article based on the revolutionary Fitness Encyclopedia of Kaloyan Gurbalov “PROJECT MUSCLE MASS”.
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