Blog page

SCS - Support Clean Sport - Blog page

Growth Hormone, the Growth Cycle, and Training


Growth Hormone, the Growth Cycle, and Training

An article about growth hormone, the biology of the growth cycle, and athlete training by Rick Crawford.

We know that we improve when we train… at least we train with that goal. Each time we step out the door to go workout, we hope to come back with a training effect. Competitive athletes all share the objective to train and get stronger.

What is the exact physiological mechanism of adaptation to training?

Understanding this mechanism opens doors to controlling the ebb and flow of performance. When you know the details of growth, you can optimize the environment under which growth occurs. As it is, most of us know that we subject our bodies to a controlled stress, and the body becomes stronger to adapt to the stress. That is the big picture. It is necessary to know much more than that to maximize growth. It also requires a much more extensive regime to provide the resource for maximum growth. The following dissertation is a more detailed but still simplified version of the growth process.

The human body is a single organism made up of multiple systems working in synchronicity. The nervous system, the endocrine system, the cardiovascular system, the musculo-skeletal system, and the immune system make up the complex functional apparatus of the human body. They are all involved in the growth process. When the body undergoes a controlled physical stress, such as a workout, the body’s systems all activate to monitor and react to the environment. Temperature goes up, the vessels dilate, perspiration flows to cool, the muscles are tapped for glycogen for energy, the endocrine system monitors blood chemistry, and work is produced. The process is nothing less than miraculous in its efficiency and complexity.

The main component that we will scrutinize for our training purposes is the endocrine relationship between sugar and growth hormone. Growth hormone is produced in the pituitary gland and is secreted by the body on demand as it needs recovery from physical work. It is no coincidence that the body pumps this out as a result of physical training, and it should be no coincidence that we manipulate and use it to maximize our recovery and gains. Growth hormone secretion is automatic and predictable. Without it, there is no growth and/or adaptation to exercise. Learning to control and maximize your growth hormone levels and knowing what to do to create the maximum effect from your growth hormone is the key to achieving success in your athletic endeavors.

Growth hormone is secreted whenever your metabolism is elevated to handle a physical stress. It is secreted when you sleep to help repair the normal wear and tear from a typical day. Normally, you will secrete growth hormone at least once in a 24-hour period as you sleep each night. The more growth hormone you secrete, the more opportunity there is for growth, so it would behoove us to secrete as much as possible. The question is how? The answer is simple. We sleep at least twice per day, and we train twice per day, thereby quadrupling our growth hormone opportunities. We can also ingest certain nutrients that will provoke growth hormone secretion, making it possible to actually tentuple growth hormone production. Proper dosage and timing of certain amino acids compels the pituitary to produce rather large amounts of growth hormone (another article). The body has the potential to produce plenty of growth hormone for our training needs, but we must provide the environment that it needs to produce it.

Once we get our bodies to produce growth hormone, we aren’t quite done. Unfortunately, growth hormone by itself is pretty useless to make growth. Growth hormone by itself is like providing a tool for a task, without providing a hand to use the tool. The hand needs energy to do the job as well. Growth hormone must be in the body with the proper nutrients to produce growth, otherwise it just gets processed by the liver and recycled, therefore wasting away without doing its job. The helper we need to make goodies from growth hormone is insulin. The good thing is that insulin is easy to manipulate, and by doing so, we have the most powerful training methodology in the world at our disposal. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas to control blood sugar, and also to mate with growth hormone to provide insulin-like-growth-factors (IGF) to repair us from all the damage we do to ourselves in our daily lives. For our purposes, the more IGF we produce, the more we will gain from our training. That means we must produce as much growth hormone as possible, and we must make sure that we do what we can to have insulin in the mix when that growth hormone is secreted.

Insulin is secreted whenever sugar is introduced to the bloodstream. The levels of sugar are regulated to very exact levels to keep the body alive. Too much blood sugar kills us, and not enough kills us, so the body dedicates a lot of resource to make sure it is just right. If you eat a Snickers bar, your blood sugar spikes up dramatically, giving you an instant pulse of energy. Your pancreas is compelled to decrease the blood sugar levels as the body senses an unnaturally high blood sugar level, and injects a dose of insulin to the mix to bring it down, which it does with great efficacy, usually resulting in a dip in energy due to the resulting low blood-sugar level. The sugars in a Snickers bar are almost exclusively high-glycemic, which is a fancy word meaning they tend to produce large blood-sugar surges. If you were to consume a Powerbar, which is almost 100% maltodextrin (a very low glycemic sugar), the complex nature of the sugar means that it is absorbed into the small intestine slowly and thus does not raise blood-sugar levels to extreme levels, and the pancreas is compelled to produce moderate levels of insulin on a very steady basis as the sugars enter the bloodstream. This steady stream of insulin is the perfect mate for GH to make IGF with, and it is this union we need to encourage as much as possible.

The only times high glycemic sugars are good for you are while you are working out and the period immediately after workouts, when insulin levels are virtually inactive because of the high metabolic demand. High glycemic sugars at the right time can create yet another opportunity to create growth. Consuming high glycemic sugars at any other time tends to create wild spikes in insulin levels that serve only to throw the body into a conservative mode, hoarding fat stores, and taxing the body’s various systems in handling the unnatural concentrations of sugar. It makes sense… our bodies really weren’t designed to handle a Snicker’s bar… nothing in nature even comes close to that kind of high glycemic density. Dextrose, with a single glucose molecule, is the highest glycemic sugar available, and must be used in moderation. Too much of this sugar at the wrong time creates a strain on immunity. Used at the right time and the right amounts result in big gains. Stick with low-glycemic complex carbs unless you’re in the window for dextrose.

Training without providing the right fuels for growth is meaningless, and any gains from the training will be purely serendipity. Never train without providing the fuel for growth. Everything you eat should pass your scrutiny as having a positive effect on your growth. Think before you eat. Before you bite, think about the timing and the constitution and the effect it will have on your insulin levels. Ponder the possibilities of having growth hormone and insulin together for the IGF rally. Plan on how you can get more growth hormone in your routine. Just knowing that sleep entices a burst of growth hormone should have you planning to nap every day without fail. It is no coincidence that the wise old people of our world encourage catnaps for longevity and productivity…. Growth hormone is the fountain of youth. Body builders, knowing the muscle-building prowess of growth hormone, have been breaking sleep cycles at night to reset the growth hormone clock and to keep insulin levels steady…. Insulin crashes to extreme lows during the long sleep of night unless we purposefully break it up with well-timed snacks. Going to the extreme of breaking up sleep sessions to reset the GH mechanism is probably worth the trouble in intense training mode.

Growth hormone helps the body handle stress. Growth hormone with insulin helps the body fortify against stress. Stress without this fortification leads to breakdown. I have observed that the body is virtually indestructible when it is being stoked with all the fuel it needs to build. All systems stay strong. The central nervous system (CNS), the hub system of the body, is nurtured in the presence of growth hormone and insulin, and senses well-being, giving the go-ahead to health, vitality, and vigor.