Human growth hormone or HGH main role is in body tissue growth, which peaks at a young age when we are growing the quickest. Growth homes is also involved in the process of muscle tissue turning over, which is very important in the building of lean muscle mass in addition to the building of collagen tissue and bone. It also plays an important role in regulating our metabolism. You can see why HGH is so important.
However, as we age the amount of HGH our body produces begins to decline. Surprisingly this begins at around the age of 21, and continues to decline, which leads to those signs of aging that we hate – loss of muscle mass, increase in body fat, wrinkles, etc.
Thankfully, there are some things we can do to help the body release HGH. The two main factors are sleep and exercise. Let’s have a look at their role.
The release of the growth hormone is at its maximum during the earlier night hours, which is why you need to get to bed at a good time so you can get a good night’s rest. If you don’t get enough sleep, you cut the release of growth hormone and therefore limit your body’s ability to recover and muscle development. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, your risk a decrease in the body’s production of HGH.
Exercise is by far the biggest contribution factor to the release of growth hormones in the body. When you exercise, the body releases the growth hormone through various mechanisms including:
- Direct stimulation by catecholamines
- Neural input
- Changes in the balance of the acid-base (Godfrey, R, et al, 2003)
- Lactic and nitric oxide
Different types of exercise affect HGH differently.
When it comes to exercise influencing the release of growth hormone, resistance training is definitely the most influential form of exercise. Both load and frequency are the two main factors that determine the degree of HGH the body releases.
When you lift heavier loads with less rest time between, so at a higher frequency, you body will release larger amounts of growth hormone. Resistance training that uses many of your larger muscle groups at one time will extract a higher amount of growth hormone.
The reason is simple – more of your muscle fiber has a demand placed on it. For the most part, the release of the HGH is generally dependent on anaerobic glycolysis demand during exercise.
The release of growth hormone through endurance exercise is dependent on intensity, frequency, duration, and the type of exercise. When you perform an exercise above your lactate threshold for a minimum of ten minutes you will get the biggest advantage as this will release the most amount of growth hormone both while you exercise and throughout the next 24 hours.
With endurance, training you will get the maximum HGH benefit if you do shorter period of exercise for about 10 minutes and you do them several times throughout the day, rather than doing a longer period of exercise. Be careful because if you go to crazy with your endurance training it will actually have a negative effect on the release of growth hormone.
When your endurance exercises are for a long period of time and for longer durations your growth hormone decreases and your cortisol increases, which is the hormone that breaks down the body’s tissue and that is responsible for belly fat.
So push your body hard during your cardio training to increase the release of the growth hormone, but do not over train or you will lose all the benefits.
Aging and the Growth Hormone
As we age the amount of body fat increases, and the amount of muscle mass decreases. This results in a change in your body’s composition with higher percent of body fat, which increases your risk of a number of diseases such as blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
Aging athletes worry about decreasing growth hormone and so some will turn to HGH injections. While these athletes do see a decrease in body fat and an increase in muscles mass, it comes with some negative consequences. Instead, just exercise at a higher intensity than what is normal for your age level. You will enjoy a significant increase in the release of the growth hormone leading to a leaner body.