Hormones are the regulatory agents in your body, and with these regulators, not on your side, you are up for a hindrance of strength and a lack of clear results. Let’s look at anabolic hormones list you need to pay close attention to while training.
All of us want to grow stronger, right?
I really do not think there is a single person that walks into the gym and thinks – “Hey, I wish I could maintain muscle”.
With that said, there are far too many people who are not focussed on the important details of muscle growth.
By this I mean everyone is focussed on the major elements of strength training. Yes, the amount of weight you lift on a daily basis and the general calories you put into your body will have an effect on your overall muscle development – but what about what’s going on inside the body?
Did you ever stop to think if you are doing everything possible to ensure you are building muscle for the long-term?
Did you ever stop to think if your hormones are in balance or if you are getting the correct amount of recovery?
To be honest, not many of us do. As a trainer, I see this almost every day. Clients come far and wide and many of them have the same goals and the same lifestyle challenges – most of which are holding them back from pushing more weight and feeling better.
At the end of the day, we are here to grow stronger but it is also important to value how you feel. How your body responds to training is a direct correlation to how healthy you are.
Chances are if you take more than 48 hours to recover from a normal workout – your body is not healthy.
Over the course of my career, I have noticed that many people – more than I can count, are very good at motivating themselves to train. Many people are super concerned with how they look in the mirror and how much they weigh in on the scale but very few people are truly concerned with how healthy they are.
One of the best way to tell how healthy you are is by looking at your hormones.
What Are Hormones
On the most basic level, a hormone is a stimulatory molecule that plays a role in regulation. There are many hormones in your body and each of them have a unique job or role in the body.
While some hormones like ghrelin and leptin will control your cravings and hunger, other hormones like growth hormone and testosterone will control your growth and vitality.
The most important factor that they all have in common is that they are transported throughout the body and are produced by specific glands to serve a function.
Think of hormones as the scales in your body. They help to balance things and keep you regular and healthy.
Without hormones signalling your body what is good or bad, you would lack the ability to track anything going on.
For example: let’s say you have low testosterone (pretty common in middle-aged men), this could be a clear signal of many things like lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of exercise and many more.
Hormones even have a huge role in how we eat and take in food. Some hormones like insulin even appear to have some type of mutation which can cause specific types of diabetes – or the lack of insulin resistance – pretty crazy right?
Hormones play a huge role in your body and every function you go through on a daily basis. Without a balance of hormones in your body you will struggle to grow stronger, recover properly and you might even be subject to some overeating or even long-term diseases and illness.
My intent here is not doom-and-gloom, but it is important that you start to understand the true importance of hormones. In this way, you can take a step back from the constant training and start to grow stronger by properly listening to your body.
How to Balance Hormones Naturally
When it comes to balancing your hormones naturally the bread and butter will always come with lifestyle factors. Here are the most effective ways to balance your hormones naturally:
Get Adequate Sleep
Nine times out of ten clients tell me that they sleep 6 hours a night and cannot wake up unless they have a cup of coffee. This just blows my mind and has always confused me (because I love sleep).
When it comes to balancing hormones you need to get adequate sleep.
I would go as far as saying if you are not getting 8 hours a night you should not be bodybuilding at all – it’s just too much stress on your body without adequate rest.
Sleep is important for many hormones, including testosterone. Do your best to get 8 hours of sleep a night and try not to change your sleep schedule.
Wake up at the same time every day and when your body wakes you up, get up and be ready for the day – don’t go back to sleep.
Eat Whole Foods
We are constantly bombarded with media on what we should eat, but 90% of it is complete junk food. I recently watched a football game and noticed very quickly that all of the advertisements were for pizza, burgers and all the other food that provides little to no nutritional value.
This is not rocket science guys – this stuff just is not good for you. Not only do fast foods provide empty calories, but they are also filled with terrible trans fats that do not, in any way, help your body to grow stronger.
In fact, a high-fat diet has been shown on many occasions to influence unhealthy weight gain which can lead to obesity and obesity caused illnesses not to mention the effect that high-fat storage can have on hormone balance.
Do yourself a favour and eat whole foods that are unprocessed. By this, we mean foods like fruit, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Regular exercise has a plethora of benefits – one of which is a better balance of hormones. In fact, those that exercise seems to have a better control of insulin – which is essential for health and diet.
If you can schedule yourself to 4-5 sessions of strength and cardio training a week you will not only grow stronger, but you will help your body to balance and regulate important hormones production
Hormones to Control for Advanced Muscle Growth
The hormones that many of us are likely most concerned with. Testosterone is a steroid hormone that stimulates the development of male secondary sexual characteristics, produced mainly in the testes, but also in the ovaries and adrenal cortex.
If you can accurately control this hormone through a balanced diet and adequate sleep you can overcome strength plateaus and recover faster – not to mention the high level of strength you will have during a workout.
#2 Growth Hormone (GH)
This one is a little more complex than many of the other hormones found in your body. Growth hormone is a general term for a type of hormone that stimulates growth – pretty basic, right?
This growth is not just for muscle tissue, but also organs, soft tissue and anything else that has the potential for growth. Growth hormone is the hormone that allows you to grow so quickly as a child and will generally slow down during adulthood.
6 Ways To “Naturally” Boost Human Growth Hormone
Balancing this hormone will mainly come down to your diet and supplementation (if you wanted to increase it).
Eating balanced food and committing yourself to a whole-food diet will help your body to grab all the nutrients it needs from a diet for proper growth which will not lead to an overproduction or underproduction of GH.
We cover HGH and supplementation in more detail on our HGH supplements page.
This is where it gets a little tricky – especially as a bodybuilder. As many people may know, insulin is the hormone that works to control the amount of glucose in the blood.
It is important to remember that glucose is needed in the blood. In fact, this is one of the best ways to transport energy throughout the body during exercise (which is why exercise is best for balancing insulin).
The issue arises when the body is not able to deal with the amount of glucose in the blood, or cannot regulate it – this can cause diabetes. The accumulation of glucose in the blood can cause inflammation which can lead to long-term issues in your health.
Controlling insulin can be as simple as exercising more and eating a whole-food diet, but if your body has a resistance to insulin you may need medication to solve this issue.
Estrogen is a sex hormone that is produced in the body. Traditionally, it was believed that estrogen was only important for females, but we now know that even men have a certain amount of healthy estrogen-grouped hormones in the body.
How To Lower Estrogen Naturally
Being able to regulate this amount of estrogen in the body is an important factor for bodybuilding. Having a diet that is lower in fat will generally allow for a better balance of estrogen.
Perhaps the most interesting and complex hormone we have in the human body. Cortisol is famously known as a stress hormone – meaning it helps you deal with stress in the body, but it is so much more than that.
Cortisol can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, help reduce inflammation and assist with memory formulation. It has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and helps control blood pressure.
Understanding how to control cortisol can help to increase muscle mass and emphasize recovery. Using this hormone to your advantage means controlling secretion by the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland, and the adrenal gland.
Importance of Hormones and Conclusion
The ability to control and regulate hormones is something we should all pay more attention to. It is far too common for us to be completely fixated on the training we are doing and leave everything else to chance.
Hormones are the regulatory agents in your body, and with these regulators, not on your side, you are up for a hindrance of strength and a lack of clear results.
Do yourself a favour and try to sleep better, eat wholesome food and get your blood work checked out. At the end of the day, you will not truly know if things are off balance unless you get a qualified health professional to measure your bloodwork.
Have your own hormone hacks to share? Let us know in comments below.
CSEP – CPT, Expert in Exercise Physiology
Gabriello is a writer and strength expert best known for his science-based and practical approach to Exercise Physiology, Nutrition and Strength. After serving in a directors position for The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology Gabriello moved towards writing to help more people understand the importance of living a healthy life. Gabriello’s writings have been published in several languages on some of the largest health and fitness websites helping people learn, grow and understand the complex components of optimizing human performance in a simplistic way.
Gabriello also takes on specialized, high-performance athletes who are in need of strength, mobility and conditioning programming to optimize their fitness through his Earned Fitness program.