Rest and recuperation can work in conjunction with growth hormone (GH) if this relationship is properly understood. For background, growth hormone (GH) is a protein hormone made by the pituitary gland, a small secretory gland at the base of the brain. Hormones, chemical messen-gers secreted by endocrine glands into the bloodstream, are delivered to target tissues, where they exert their effects. (1) Although growth hormone is of interest to adults, its primary function is to promote growth during childhood. Actively growing children have the highest levels of growth hormone. Gradually, GH release decreases with age. The decline in GH levels may in fact be the cause of some of the processes of aging. If you haven’t made good gains in awhile try to incorporate some of the following GH-releasing ideas. GH & Rest between Sets An important exercise parameter that seems to enhance GH release is to use shorter rest intervals when training. To do this, of course, you have to use lighter weights (and more reps).
A difficult protocol that works well to increase GH levels is to train to failure at 10 reps (use 10 rep maximum weight) combined with one-minute rest intervals (5). If you’re used to resting 3-5 minutes between sets, shorten up the rest interval to one minute or less; it will work wonders. Sometimes bodybuilders get into a rut; they plateau and can’t figure out the problem. It might be that they’re training like powerlifters: very heavy weights, very low reps with long rest inter-vals. In 1993 a scientific study compared the GH-release of 20 sets of one rep each (done maximally) to 10 sets of 10 reps (also maximum) and found the 10 sets of 10 reps resulted in greater GH release (6). Why? Probably the larger volume of work, done with enough reps to result in some lactic acid production, combined with short rest intervals, is the best way to trigger GH release. It may prove beneficial to include some high intensity aerobics as part of your cardiovascular train-ing.
There seems to be theoretical justification to include sprinting for better results. A postscript here: Weight training is incredibly intense exercise and within seconds of the commencement of a heavy set, energy reserves are depleted and waste products begin to accumulate (1-4). Creatine phosphate serves as an energy donor and helps to maintain the supply of ATP, the molecule used by muscles to power contractions. ATP is rapidly depleted and strength fades as a heavy set proceeds, muscular contractions soon stop altogether. During the rest interval between sets ATP and creatine phosphate stores are repleted. Supplementation with Creatine Monohydrate can help the entire depletion-regeneration process as it increases intracellular Creatine pools(5-6). Supplement with our Creatine Monohydrate Formula™ and you will get a better training effect. Sleep & Stress Issues Always try to get enough sleep, especially since GH is naturally released at night. If you are unable to sleep optimally, your recovery will suffer and you won’t be able to train each muscle group as frequently.
You can also stimulate the release of growth hormone through the ingestion of amino acids. Arginine Pyroglutamate and Lysine Monohydrochloride, two potent amino acids, when isolated and grouped together and taken on a regular basis have been shown to promote the secretion of growth hormone in the body. Parrillo Performance has grouped this amino duo in its Enhanced GH Formula™. These two aminos have been shown to stimulate the release of GH in test subjects. Growth hormone is the mightiest of all hormonal secretions as it increases mass and decreases bodyfat simultaneously, and aids injoint repair! This particular amino grouping is best taken on an empty stomach and it is suggested to take Enhanced GH Formula™ immediately upon awaking, before training and just before bedtime. Taken before bed (2 to 3 capsules), these easy to digest capsules will dissolve as you sleep, providing you with GH-triggering amino acids. Grow while you sleep! Take them in the morning too, and prior to training. Muscle growth and decreased body fat are the ultimate goals of every hard-training bodybuilder and strength athlete and muscle can’t grow without growth hormone. Growth hormone increases lean body mass by stimulating protein synthesis and increasing nitrogen retention. GH is anabolic, meaning that it acts to promote incorporation of nutrients into new body tissues (1,2).
One way to increase your natural GH levels is through supplementation with a special combination of amino acids (3), combined with adequate rest and sleep. Nutrition plays an absolutely central role in the rest and recovery process. The foods you eat supply you with the building blocks the body needs to repair itself. If you are training intensely and getting enough sleep but not eating right, then your growth potential will be severely limited. You should be getting one to two grams of protein per pound of body weight every day for optimal growth and recovery (7-10). Most bodybuilders use a protein supplement as the foundation for their nutritional program. We think the best protein on the market is our Hi-Protein Powder™ or Optimized Whey Protein™. Our whey protein is fortified with extra glutamine and branched chain amino acids. In terms of recovery and growth the two most important supplements are protein powder and Creatine Monohydrate. Carbohydrates are required to maintain your muscle glycogen stores. When muscle glycogen is depleted, strength and endurance drop off markedly (1-4).
If you are no longer getting a good pump after a set, this is a sign that you are running low on glycogen. In this case, increase your carbs by using two to four scoops of Parrillo Pro-Carb™ after your workout. This is the perfect time to supplement with carbs as they will be stored as glycogen. Don’t forget to take your vitamins and minerals. I suggest six meals a day, spaced at regular intervals. Each meal should include a protein source (such as lean chicken or turkey), a starch, and a fibrous vegetable. Good starches include potatoes, rice, beans, and corn. Stay away from simple sugars and refined carbohydrates such as pasta or bread. Metabolically, refined carbohydrates behave much like simple sugars. Also avoid milk and fruit, which are rich in sugars. Consult the Parrillo Performance Nutrition Manual for detailed instructions. Adequate nutrition and sleep are two critical ingredients in achieving optimal recovery. Don’t be afraid to vary and experiment with your rest intervals and training frequency.
1. McArdle WD, Katch FI, and Katch VL. Exercise Physiology: Energy, Nutrition, and Human Performance. Lea & Febiger, Philadelphia, 1991.
2. Wilmore JH and Costill DL. Physiology of Exercise and Sport. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, 1994.
3. Essentials of Strength Trainingand Conditioning, Thomas R. Baechle, editor, National Strength and Conditioning Association, Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, 1994.
4. Guyton AC. Textbook of Medical Physiology, W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia, 1991.
5. Maughan RJ. Creatine supplementation and exercise performance. International Journal of Sport Nutrition 5: 94-101, 1995.
6. Greenhaff PL. Creatine and itsapplication as an ergogenic aid. International Journal of Sport Nu-trition 5: S100-S110, 1995.
7. Tarnopolsky MA, MacDougall JD, and Atkinson SA. Influence of protein intake and training status on nitrogen balance and lean mass. J Appl Physiol 64: 187-193, 1988.
8. Lemon PWR. Influence of dietary protein and total energy intake on strength improvement. Sports Sci Exch 2, 1989.. Celejowa I and Homa M. Food intake, nitrogen, and energy balance in Polish weight lifters during training camp. Nutr Metab 12: 259-274, 1970.
10. Laritcheva KA, Yalovaya NI, Shubin VI, and Shirnov PV. Study of energy expenditure and protein needs of top weight lifters. In: Nutrition, Physical Fitness and Health, eds. Pariznova J and Rogozkin VA, 155-163. University Park Press, Baltimore, 1978.