Image Map

AbsAre Acute Increases in Anabolic Hormones During Resistance Exercise Important for Muscle Hypertrophy? Submitted by Admin on Sun, 10/08/2006 – 04:00  by: Robbie Durand, M.A., C.S.C.S.

Hormones, such as human growth hormone (GH) and testosterone, have been shown to play a role in the muscle hypertrophy and strength gains. Men suffering from either GH deficiency or testosterone deficiency have increased fat mass, reduced muscle mass, and reduced muscle force production. The anabolic effects of testosterone on muscle mass are dose and concentration dependent [1]. Bhasin et al. demonstrated that supraphysiological doses of testosterone can induce increases in muscle size and strength in younger men without exercise.

Testosterone-induced increase in muscle mass is associated with a dose-dependent increase in cross-sectional areas of both type I and type II muscle fibers [3]. However, the mechanisms by which testosterone increases muscle mass are not well understood. The prevalent dogma for the past 50 years has been that testosterone increases muscle mass by stimulating fractional muscle protein synthesis. Testosterone administration primes skeletal muscle for growth by increasing net protein synthesis, even in the fasted state [6,7]

The logical extrapolation of a continued increase in net protein synthesis results in an increase in lean body mass and strength. Additionally, testosterone stimulates many other pathways besides just increasing protein synthesis rates to stimulate of muscle hypertrophy. Testosterone administration also results in increases in GH secretion, androgen receptor number, satellite cell activity, and increased IGF-I expression in skeletal muscle [8]. It has also been demonstrated that the increase in muscle anabolism is associated with an increase in the expression of intramuscular mRNA IGF-I [9].

GH is also highly recognized for its role in muscle growth. Resistance exercise stimulates the release of GH from the anterior pituitary gland, with released levels being very dependent on exercise intensity. GH helps to trigger fat metabolism for energy use in the muscle growth process. As well, GH stimulates the uptake and incorporation of amino acids into protein in skeletal muscle. GH is an anabolic hormone capable of increasing muscle mass [10]. In humans, GH administration is known to increase both whole-body and muscle protein synthesis [10,11] and almost unequivocally to increase lean body mass and decreased fat mass. GH-also stimulates hepatic production of circulating IGF-1 concentrations and may also stimulate IGF-1 production in other tissue such as skeletal muscle [12,13].

It is well established that testosterone and GH are important for muscle hypertrophy and strength, but what about the acute increases that occur during resistance exercise? Are they important? Researchers at the Exercise Metabolism Group at McMaster’s University reported this month that muscle hypertrophy took place without acute increases in anabolic hormone concentrations [14]. 10 healthy young male subjects performed unilateral resistance training for 8 week (3 days/week). Unilateral resistance exercise is basically where you train one arm or in this case leg, while the other arm or leg is used as a control or untrained muscle. Exercises performed in the study included knee extensions and leg press performed at 80-90% of the subject’s single repetition maximum (1RM). Blood samples were collected before, immediately after, 30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes post-exercise. The first training bout and following the last training bout were analyzed for total testosterone, free-testosterone, GH, and insulin-like growth factor-1, along with other hormones. Thigh muscle cross sectional area (CSA) and muscle fiber CSA by biopsy (vastus lateralis) were also measured pre- and post-training.

Acutely, no changes in GH, testosterone, or IGF-1 concentrations were observed in the 90 min period following exercise and there was no influence of training on the anabolic hormones measured. GH did show a moderate increase 30 minutes post-exercise but returned to baseline values by 90 minutes. Training-induced increases were observed in type IIb and IIa muscle fiber CSA. No changes were observed in fiber CSA in the untrained leg. Whole muscle CSA increased in the trained leg and remained unchanged in the untrained leg. In conclusion, unilateral training induced local muscle hypertrophy only in the exercised limb, which occurred in the absence of testosterone, GH, or IGF-1 circulating levels.


Muscle Hypertrophy without Anabolic Hormones

Back in the early 70’s researchers quickly realized that if you took a rat and had him walk downhill on a treadmill or induced tension overload by putting a muscle on stretch (eccentric contractions) that they could do all sorts of nasty things to try and blunt muscle hypertrophy but it did not stop muscle hypertrophy from occurring: they removed their pituitary so they could not produce GH or IGF-1, castrated them so they could not produce testosterone, removed their thyroid, or just didn’t feed them…despite this punishment, the rats still had increases in muscle hypertrophy in their legs [15]. In his research, Dr. Goldberg noted, “Maximal tension development leads to increases in muscle hypertrophy. Unlike normal developmental growth, work-induced hypertrophy can be induced in hypophysectomized (rats that can’t produce GH) or diabetic animals. This process thus appears independent of growth hormone and insulin as well as testosterone and thyroid hormones. Hypertrophy can also be induced in fasting animals, in which there is a generalized muscle wasting. Thus muscular activity takes precedence over endocrine influences on muscle size. The increase in muscle weight reflects an increase in protein, especially sarcoplasmic protein, and results from greater protein synthesis and reduced protein breakdown.

The ‘Intramuscular Growth Factor’ Camp

Elevated testosterone levels have been reported to occur in some studies whereas several studies have shown no difference [19,20,21] or even reductions [22]. Some researchers have even gone on to argue that the gains in strength and size are all related to “intramuscular growth factors” that are independent of testosterone and GH. A paper presented by Dr. Goldberg in 1975 stunned scientists about the relationship between muscle growth and testosterone. In his research, he castrated rats so that they could not produce testosterone and put their leg muscle on tension overload. Surprisingly, the rats’ leg muscles grew in size suggesting that mechanical overload increases muscle hypertrophy independent of testosterone [15]. Research scientists are now discovering the signaling pathway by which mechanical stimulation of contracting muscle and intramuscular growth factors as IGF-1 activity leads to changes in satellite cells, muscle DNA content, increased muscle protein synthesis, increased muscle mass, and strength. Other recent research has demonstrated that IGF-1 increases intracellular calcium ion concentrations leading to the activation of the muscle growth signaling pathway, and subsequent muscle fiber hypertrophy. For example, in one study 10 healthy men completed eight sets of maximal eccentric squats. The intramuscular IGF-I mRNA concentration increased 62% but serum testosterone showed little change [23]. The results of the study suggest that maximal muscle tension is more important than acute increases in testosterone.

An increase in muscle hypertrophy can lead to greater increases in muscle strength. Reports in the literature have suggested that the insulin-like growth factor I protein plays a major role in strength training-induced skeletal muscle hypertrophy and strength improvements. Some people due to differences in genetics express higher levels of IGF-1 than others, what we call ‘lucky bastards’. One study compared those that expressed high levels of IGF-1 levels in muscle to those that did not. After 10 weeks of training, with a single-leg knee-extension strength training program, 1-repetition maximum, muscle volume, and muscle quality increased significantly for all exercising groups. Subjects that expressed higher natural levels of IGF-1 levels gained significantly more strength than those whom did not. Thus the data suggest that the IGF-1 may influence the strength response to strength training.

In conclusion, there is debate as to whether the increases in acute anabolic hormone responses are important for muscle hypertrophy. Look at the muscle hypertrophy of some powerlifters, elite powerlifters have considerable muscle hypertrophy yet they take prolonged rest periods and more than likely have very small increases in anabolic hormones when they train. It seems that direct muscle tension and muscle fiber damage leads to increases in muscle hypertrophy. Resistance training leads to trauma or injury of the cellular proteins in muscle. This prompts cell-signaling messages to activate satellite cells to begin a cascade of events leading to muscle repair and muscle growth. Several growth factors are involved that regulate the mechanisms of change in protein number and size within the muscle. The acute increases in anabolic hormones are temporary and may not be as important for muscle growth as the direct stress placed on muscle fibers during exercise.



1. Bhasin S, Woodhouse L, Casaburi R, Singh AB, Bhasin D, Berman N, Chen X, Yarasheski KE, Magliano L, Dzekov C, Dzekov J, Bross R, Phillips J, Sinha-Hikim I, Shen R, and Storer TW. Testosterone dose-response relationships in healthy young men. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 281: E1172–E1181, 2001.
2. Bhasin S, Storer TW, Berman N, Callegari C, Clevenger B, Phillips J, Bunnell TJ, Tricker R, Shirazi A, and Casaburi R. The effects of supraphysiologic doses of testosterone on muscle size and strength in normal men. N Engl J Med 335: 1–7, 1996.
3. Sinha-Hikim I, Artaza J, Woodhouse L, Gonzalez-Cadavid N, Shen R, and Bhasin S. Testosterone-induced increase in muscle size is associated with muscle fiber hypertrophy. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 283: E154–E164, 2002.
4. Brodsky IG, Balagopal P, and Nair KS. Effects of testosterone replacement on muscle mass and muscle protein synthesis in hypogonadal men—a clinical research center study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 81: 3469–3475, 1996.
5. Ferrando AA, Sheffield-Moore M, Yeckel CW, Gilkison C, Jiang J, Achacosa A, Lieberman SA, Tipton K, Wolfe RR, and Urban RJ. Testosterone administration to older men improves muscle function: molecular and physiological mechanisms. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 282: E601–E607, 2002.
6. Ferrando, AA, Tipton KD, Doyle D, Phillips SM, Cortiella J, and Wolfe RR. Testosterone injection stimulates net protein synthesis but not tissue amino acid transport. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 275: E864-E871, 1998.
7. Sheffield-Moore, M, Urban RJ, Wolf SE, Jiang J, Catlin DH, Herndon DN, Wolfe RR, and Ferrando AA. Short-term oxandrolone administration stimulates net muscle protein synthesis in young men. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 84: 2705-2711, 1999.
8. Bhasin S, Woodhouse L, and Storer TW. Proof of the effect of testosterone on skeletal muscle. J Endocrinol 170: 27–38, 2001.
9. Kadi F, Eriksson A, Holmner S, and Thornell LE. Effects of anabolic steroids on the muscle cells of strength-trained athletes. Med Sci Sports Exerc 31: 1528–1534, 1999.
10. Crist DM, Peake GT, Egan PA, Waters DL 1988 Body composition response to exogenous GH during training in highly conditioned adults. J Appl Physiol 65:579–584.
11. Butterfield GE, Thompson J, Rennie MJ, Marcus R, Hintz RL, Hoffman AR 1997 Effect of rhGH and rhIGF-I treatment on protein utilization in elderly women. Am J Physiol 272:E94–E99
12. DeVol, D. L., P. Rotwein, J. Levis Sadow, J. Novakofski, and P. J. Bechtel. Activation of insulin-like growth factor gene expression during work-induced skeletal muscle growth. Am. J. Physiol. 259 (Endocrinol. Metab. 22): E89-E95, 1990.
13. Vandenburgh, H. H., P. Karlisch, J. Shansky, and R. Feldstein. Insulin and IGF-I induce pronounced hypertrophy of skeletal myofibers in tissue culture. Am. J. Physiol. 260 (Cell Physiol. 29): C475-C484, 1991.
14. Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, Grant EJ, Correia CE, Phillips SM. Hypertrophy with unilateral resistance exercise occurs without increases in endogenous anabolic hormone concentration. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006
15. Goldberg AL, Etlinger JD, Goldspink DF, Jablecki C. Mechanism of work-induced hypertrophy of skeletal muscle. Med Sci Sports. 1975 Fall;7(3):185-98.
16. Kraemer WJ, Hakkinen K, Newton RU, Nindl BC, Volek JS, McCormick M, Gotshalk LA, Gordon SE, Fleck SJ, Campbell WW, Putukian M, Evans WJ. Effects of heavy-resistance training on hormonal response patterns in younger vs. older men. J Appl Physiol, 1999 Sep;87(3):982-92.
17. Ahtiainen JP, Pakarinen A, Alen M, Kraemer WJ, Hakkinen K. Muscle hypertrophy, hormonal adaptations and strength development during strength training in strength-trained and untrained men. Eur J Appl Physiol, 2003 Aug;89(6):555-63.
18. Staron RS, Karapondo DL, Kraemer WJ, Fry AC, Gordon SE, Falkel JE, Hagerman FC, Hikida RS. Skeletal muscle adaptations during early phase of heavy-resistance training in men and women. J Appl Physiol, 1994 Mar;76(3):1247-55.
19. Hickson RC, Hidaka K, Foster C, Falduto MT, Chatterton RT Jr. Successive time courses of strength development and steroid hormone responses to heavy-resistance training. J Appl Physiol, 1994 Feb;76(2):663-70.
20. Hakkinen K, Pakarinen A, Alen M, Kauhanen H, Komi PV. Neuromuscular and hormonal adaptations in athletes to strength training in two years. J Appl Physiol, 1988 Dec;65(6):2406-12.
21. Hakkinen K, Pakarinen A, Kraemer WJ, Newton RU, Alen M. Basal concentrations and acute responses of serum hormones and strength development during heavy resistance training in middle-aged and elderly men and women. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci, 2000 Feb;55(2):B95-105.
22. Alen M, Pakarinen A, Hakkinen K, Komi PV. Responses of serum androgenic-anabolic and catabolic hormones to prolonged strength training. Int J Sports Med, 1988 Jun;9(3):229-33.
23. Bamman MM, Shipp JR, Jiang J, Gower BA, Hunter GR, Goodman A, McLafferty CL Jr, Urban RJ. Mechanical load increases muscle IGF-1 and androgen receptor mRNA concentrations in humans. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 2001 Mar;280(3):E383-90.

Rise and Swell
someone from Douglasville
Total order for 42.49 USD
Hydroxy Elite
someone from Detroit
Total order for 39.45 USD
someone from Crawford
Total order for 39.98 USD
Liquid Labs Te
someone from blaine
Total order for 62.49 USD
Cutting Andro Kit
someone from Houston
Total order for 129.45 USD