Forget steroids . Forget androstenedione . Forget DHEA. Forget whatever “flavor of the month” mass-building drug comes on the scene . I’m a big believer in getting back to basics, especially for building muscles. And one of the basics is a natural supple-ment you can use to accomplish a lot of what you want, along with proper nutri-tion and training . And that supplement is a good growth hormone (GH) releaser. For background: Physiologically, growth hormone (GH) is the most impor-tant hormone in the body for bodybuilders and athletes because it acts as a powerful stimulus for muscle growth and fat loss. Many of the effects of exercise in increas-ing muscle mass and decreasing body fat are mediated by growth hormone. (1,2) Growth hormone (GH) is the most an-abolic substance in the human body (3,4). In a study of older men (whose growth hormone levels are diminished), it was found that GH administration promoted an increase in muscle mass and a decrease in body fat — even in the absence of exercise training (3,4).
Growth hormone is anabolic, meaning that it promotes the incorporation of nutrients into new body tissues, including the protein synthesis required to make muscle. Part of this effect is believed to oc-cur because GH promotes the transport of certain essential amino acids inside muscle cells. Notably, insulin also acts to transport a different set of essential amino acids, so you need adequate amounts of GH and insulin present at the same time to stimulate muscle growth. GH also has a “lipolytic” effect, which means it mo-bilizes body fat from adipose depots and increases the use of fat for energy. This in turn spares carbohydrates so glycogen stores are preserved. The most important role of growth hormone is in promoting growth during childhood . Without GH, normal adult stature will not be achieved. Growth hormone acts to promote growth of all tis-sues of the body except the nervous sys-tem. GH levels reach maximal levels in late teens and gradually decline with age. The high levels of GH and testosterone in young adult males explain why most bodybuilders make their best gains during their late teens and twenties.
This again underscores the central role of hormones in bodybuilding. Proper nutrition (including carbohy-drates, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids), rest, and a good psychosocial environment are all require-ments for growth (5). Mental state (emo-tional state) can directly influence normal growth in humans. No doubt this effect is mediated by the hypothalamus, since it connects the endocrine system to the mind. If you’re eating and training right, but are totally stressed out about work or some personal problem, you’re probably not going to make very good gains. The mind is very important to bodybuilding. You must maintain a positive and ag-gressive attitude and not be distracted by outside stresses . Growth hormone (GH) has some ma-jor effects on mass and on the metabolism of carbohydrate, protein, and fat. First of all, GH increases lean body mass by stimulating protein synthesis and increas-ing nitrogen retention. Part of this effect is believed to be due to GH promoting transport certain essential amino acids inside muscle cells. GH-deficient indi-viduals have a relatively high proportion of body fat.
Treatment with GH causes a decrease in body fat, accompanied by an increase in body protein, mostly muscle. Sometimes, particularly after a pe-riod of glucose deprivation, GH has an insulin-like effect in increasing glucose uptake and utilization. This effect disap-pears quickly, and its physiological sig-nificance is a mystery. After about two hours, glucose metabolism is inhibited in muscle and adipose tissue . There is a decrease in glucose uptake and muscle glycogen stores are preserved. In adipose tissue, GH promotes the breakdown of stored triglyceride (body fat), increasing plasma levels of free fatty acids (FFA). Since glucose uptake is sup-pressed by GH, fat synthesis is also sup-pressed. These effects combined result in a net loss of body fat. The thing to remember is that GH decreases glucose uptake and utilization and spares glycogen, it increases use of fat for energy by mobilizing fat stores, and it increases protein synthesis .
The net effect is to make the body leaner and more muscular. Many of the effects of exercise in making the body leaner and more muscular are mediated by an exer-cise-induced increase in growth hormone (1,2). GH secretion is stimulated by sleep, stress, low blood glucose, an increase in certain amino acids (especially argi-nine, leucine, valine, and ornithine), and exercise. Normally, GH is secreted in an episodic fashion with maximal secre-tion occurring during deep sleep . GH is synthesized and stored in the anterior pi-tuitary, and its plasma level is controlled via its rate of secretion. Its rate of se-cretion is controlled by two hormones from the hypothalamus: GHRH (growth hormone releasing hormone) and soma-tostatin (which inhibits GH release). GH secretion is thus under minute-by-minute control by the nervous system. There are several things you can do as a bodybuilder to naturally increase your GH levels (3). First, eat an adequate diet containing at least one gram of protein per pound of body weight. A high-pro-tein meal increases GH release . Second, supplement your diet with GH releasers — those containing arginine pyrogluta-mate and lysine monohydrochloride, the most effective oral combination of amino acids for GH release ever developed (4). Third, make sure you get enough sleep. Maximal GH release occurs during deep sleep . Finally, train smart. Heavy, low-rep work is effective in increasing strength.
This is probably due to an increase in testosterone levels and a training effect on the nervous system. High-rep work with moderate weights is more effective in stimulating GH release (1,2,3), so it’s a huge mistake to leave out the high-rep part of your training. The GH release resulting from high-volume training also serves as a potent stimulus for fat loss. Of course, you need both high-rep and low-rep work to make continuing progress. So get back to basics. Get back to GH. At Parrillo Performance, our version of the GH releaser supplement is called our Enhanced GH Formula™. It contains the combo I mentioned above – arginine pyroglutamate and lysine monohydro-chloride, shown to release growth hor-mone is test patients . With this particular amino acid grouping, I suggest that you take it on an empty stomach immedi-ately upon waking, before training, and just before bedtime. Taken before bed is great, because the capsules dissolve while you’re in dreamland, providing your body with GH-triggering amino acids at a time when GH release is the highest anyway. Theoretically, you can grow while you sleep!
1. Kraemer, W.J. 1992. Influence of the endocrine system on resistance training adaptations . National Strength and Con-ditioning Journal 14: 47-54 .
2. Kraemer, R.R., et al. 1992. Growth hormone, IGF-1, and testosterone re-sponses to resistive exercise. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise . 24: 1346-1352 .
3 . Crist, D .M . 1991 . Growth Hor-mone Synergism. Albuquerque: DMC Health Sciences .
4. Isidori, A., et al. 1981. A study of growth hormone release in man after oral administration of amino acids. Current Medical Research and Opinion 7:475-481 .
5. Johnson, L.R. 1992. Essential Medical Physiology. New York: Raven Press, New York.