The Secret Relationship Between Hormones and Productive Strength Training by Mike Mahler

  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.
  • : preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/kettlebe/public_html/enhancedfp.com/includes/unicode.inc on line 311.

Republished from www.mikemahler.com

I will get right to the point. If you do not have a high sex drive then you are not healthy and you are not maximizing the benefits of training. If you do not feel strong and powerful after workout then you probably did more damage than good with regard to your health. Instead of optimizing your anabolic hormones (also known as sex hormones) you have depleted them. Depleting your anabolic hormones places you in an aging state which is counter productive to recovery. Fail to recover several times and you will get weaker and weaker at each workout. While getting blood work is very important and I will cover what tests you should have done in this article, there are a few free ways to determine whether your training is optimizing anabolic hormones. 

First, lets talk about the two main hormones that are very important to training. Testosterone and Growth Hormone. I am not going to get into detail on each hormone, you can do some research on your own at www.worldhealth.net However, I will say that if your Testosterone levels are low, forget about ever being really strong or more importantly feeling good about life. Symptoms of low testosterone are: low sex drive, low confidence,  increased bodyfat, and poor outlook on life. In other words if your Testosterone levels are low, you do not feel like having sex, you let people push you around, you are overweight, and you probably think that life is lame. I rather jump off a cliff then live life that. Forget about prozac and other ways to cover the symptoms. Get to the root cause which could very well be low T levels. 

In addition to everyday well being, new studies are showing that people that have low testosterone are more likely to get heart disease. Now one study that I read about online (I forget where but do a google search and you can find it yourself) conveyed the importance of high testosterone levels with regards to building muscle and strength. A study was done in which one group worked out and received testosterone therapy. The next group worked out and did not receive testosterone therapy, and finally one group received testosterone therapy and did not work out. Guess which group had the best results? Obviously the group that got T therapy and worked out. However, what is interesting is the group that got T therapy but did not work out got better results than the group that worked out but did not get T.  Of course, the training program that they were on could have been really lame. No doubt that is a possible factor. However, that does not even come close to ruling out the fact that the group that did not work out actually got stronger and bigger with T therapy. Now I am not telling you this to encourage you to take testosterone. That is between you and your Doctor. I am telling your this to demonstrate clearly how important optimal T levels are to training.  the optimal range for T is 600-900ng/dl for total and 200 to 600 for bioavailable (this is how efficient your are at using what you are producing). Normal is considered 200ng/dl to 900ng/dl. However, that is a very broad range and normal does necessarily mean ideal. I rather be closer to 900ng/dl than 200ng/dl and if you care about being strong and virile then you should as well. Ladies, I do not know what the optimal ranges are for you. Do some research find out and then let me know. T levels are important for women as well but obviously what is ideal for a woman is much lower than what is ideal for a man. 

Now lets talk about Growth Hormone. Without normal levels of GH, you will not reach normal development as a human being. That is the extreme and an example would be midgets or "little people" if we are trying to be PC which I do not care to be as deplore PC without every bone in my body. Okay back to GH, most people probably fall between 125 ng/dl all the way up to as high as 425ng/dl. A decent range is 175ng/dl to an outstanding 425ng/dl. However, once again I do not care about what is normal, I want to know what is ideal. According to an anti-aging Doctor that I go to, over 250ng/dl is good. Over 300ng/dl is great and over 400 ng/dl it exceptional. Why care about GH? Without optimal levels of GH your physique composition will be far from ideal, your recovery from workouts will be poor, your sex drive may most likely be low, your sleep will be poor, your mood will be poor, and your energy will be low. You will have that dragging feeling through out the day and will probably need lots of coffee just to make it through the day. Once again I am not recommending GH shots. That again is between you and your doctor. Personally I rather optimize T and GH via training, nutrition, and lifestyle rather than with drugs. That is my personal choice though and I respect yours. 

Now that we understand the importance of T and GH lets talk about how to optimize both with training. Heavy weight training and low reps have a positive impact on T levels. A dramatic example of this would be rest pause training (see my article at: www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=46048 After a rest pause workout, I feel very strong and powerful rather than weak and depleted after doing something such as 10x10 on barbell squats. A powerlifting approach to training is a great way to jack up T. You just have to make sure that you determine the ideal amount of volume or better yet pay me to do that via my online program design services at www.mikemahler.com/services.htm Here is the deal. If you feel strong and powerful after a strength training workout, you are training in a way that optimizes T. Also, for men if you have a morning erection the day after your workout, then you T levels are doing well. If not, then it may mean that you T levels were lowered from the workout. Not a sure fire test, but a pretty good indicator. Also men, morning erections should be a daily event if your T levels are optimal. If it only happens a few times per week, then your levels are probably okay. Once a week means your levels are bad and if less than that, you are probably not even a man anymore. The only way to know for sure if your levels are optimal is to have blood work done. Otherwise it is all guess work. 

Moving on, we know that the right amount of heavy weight training is great for T levels, what about GH? High intensity cardio is great for increasing GH assuming that you do not do too much. A example would be The Tabata protocol, HOC, PHA, or the Descending sets program (BTW, do not ask me what these programs are. I have written about all of them. Do some research and find out). However, if you are a minimalist like me, try adding a finisher to your strength workouts. For example, end a workout with 100 Hindu Squats as fast as possible or 3x15 on one-arm kettelbell snatches or five 50 yard sprints with one-minute breaks in between each sprint. How do you know if you increased GH levels? Try this simple test. Keep your workout to 45 minutes or less and right after you workout, take a thirty-minute nap on an empty stomach. When you wake up, you should have a ravenous urge to eat sugar. This is a nice indicator that your GH levels are way up. When GH levels go way up, your body wants to maintain homeostasis and bring the levels back down to a normal range. The way to do that is to increase insulin output. When insulin goes up, GH goes down. Now, I am not saying that you should fast after a workout that is just plain stupid. You want to have a big meal or a protein shake within an hour after you workout. Doing so after the nap still gets it done within the hour known as the "window of opportunity" and also provides some great information. A protein shake with juice or some other form of sugar is a good idea after workouts as that is the optimal time to increase insulin. Insulin helps deliver nutrients to the muscles effectively and quickly. This is why creatine and other amino acids are often taken with sugar after working out. 

Okay so heavy weight training  for T and high intensity cardio for GH. What exercises should you pick? Lots of curls and triceps pushdowns right? Hell no! The best exercises to pick are compound drills that will do the most bang for your buck. This is relevant for both T and GH. High rep squats for example are great for GH and low rep deadlifts are great for T. I do not have to convince you of either. if you ever done either, you know what I mean. If you have not then do not bother commenting. Here is a sample program to optimize both hormones: 

Monday 

A-1: Barbell Clean and Military Press 3x3 

A-2: Weighted Pull-up 3x3 

Take 90 second breaks in between A-1 and A-2. Go back and forth between the two drills until all of the designated sets are done. When you can do five reps on the last set, increase the weight by five pounds. 

Barbell Deadlift 3x3 ( two to three minute breaks and when three sets gets easy, do four sets. Work up to five sets and  then increase the weight by five to ten pounds and go back to three sets per exercise) 

Finisher: 

100 Bodyweight squats as fast as possible or 20 one-arm kettlebells snatches l,r. Go as heavy as possible but do not train to failure. As Pavel recommends, leave a rep or two in the bank. 

Wednesday 

A-1: Medium Grip Floor Press 3x3 

A-2: Barbell Bent-over Row 3x3 

Barbell Squat 1x20 (Start with 50% of your one rep max and work on doing 20 reps without stopping. You want the lactic  acid build up to optimize GH) Double Kettlebell Front Squats are also a great alternative. 

Friday

A-1: Weighted Dips 3x3 

A-2: Underhand Lat Pulldown or Weighted Chin-up 3x3 

Double Kettlebell Swing 1x15-20 (Do all reps as fast as possible and get a nice lactic acid build up in your hamstrings. Double Kettlebell Snatches (no pun intended) are also good if you have the technique down) 

Now obviously training has to be personalized to you to get the optimal results. The above is just a sample program. Your lifestyle, quality and quantity of your sleep, nutrition, supplement program, and individual physiology are all very important parts of the equation and need taken into equation. Stress management is also very important. 

While productive strength training does not have to be complicated, optimizing the results of training is and most people are far too lazy to bother. That is fine with me. Good luck with training and keep doing what you are doing.  However, if you want to maximize your training, the more you know about yourself the better. What you do not know will hurt you. It is not a question of if, it is a question of when. One final tip. Low carb diets are a great way to keep GH levels high since they keep insulin levels low. Thus, go low carb during the day and high carb after working out for the best of both worlds. Good amounts of healthy fat are critical for optimal testosterone levels. Low fat equals low T which is why people on low fat diets look terrible . Yes I am a vegetarian which is often low fat and low protein. However,  I eat like a meat eater. Meaning that I consume high levels of protein and healthy fat and get most of my carbs from low glycemic fruits and veggies. 

Okay here is the blood work that you should have done: 

Testosterone (free and total)
DHT
Estradiol
PSA (for men)
SBGH
DHEA (saliva test)
Cortisol (saliva test)
Thyroid
IGF-1 (more stable measure of GH)

Submitted by DMorgan on Wed, 03/29/2006 - 9:29pm.

| Related Articles