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Anabolic Hormones for Muscle Building (How to Boost Them)

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Last updated: March 26, 2023

Numerous hormones are essential in strength training and bodybuilding.

As a certified fitness trainer, I get asked by my clients and readers about the safest ways to boost their anabolic hormones for muscle hypertrophy.

I spent a vast amount of time researching and consulted a friend doctor, who shed some light on the topic.

In this article, I will provide my research and findings on anabolic hormones and the best ways to boost them for muscle building.

Quick Summary

  • To skyrocket your anabolic hormones, eat a balanced diet for your body to get the required nutrients, do regular workouts, and take supplements like L-Glutamine.
  • Fruits and vegetables have been proven effective in boosting your anabolic hormones when regularly consumed.
  • When choosing supplements to boost your anabolic hormones, go for certified supplements that don't have any side effects.

Anabolic Hormones

Four things must be in order if you want to develop muscle as quickly as possible. These include:

  • Sufficient overloading stimulus.
  • Enough rest for repair and recovery.
  • Proper nutrients to build muscle tissue out of.
  • A maximized hormonal environment promotes the growth of lean muscle tissue.

Anabolic hormones control your body. An anabolic hormone is like a massager signal transported in the bloodstream and targets certain cells to perform specific actions.

In the case of muscle building, the three primary anabolic hormones that get called into play are:

  1. Testosterone
  2. Growth hormone
  3. Insulin

Together, these anabolic hormones will help determine how quickly you can build muscle mass and the degree of strength gains you realize.

Optimized, they can turn slow and sluggish progress into significant progress that has you realizing your true potential.

What is Testosterone?

Testosterone molecule on a white background

Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone. It is the hormone that is released heavily during the puberty years and what causes males to develop their secondary sex characteristics.

This includes deepening the voice, growing facial and body hair, and increasing muscle size and strength.

Your ability to build lean muscle mass tissue will be much higher when you have sufficient testosterone levels.

You'll notice your strength going up regularly in the gym and see a steady increase in the size and density of your muscles.

In addition to this, you'll also likely notice that your performance increases.

Men with elevated testosterone levels tend to have more aggression and drive, thus having a greater overall power output and tenacity when attacking their lifts in the gym.

Keeping your testosterone levels as high as possible then is paramount to success.

Signs You’re In Need of A Testosterone Boost

Some of the symptoms that may indicate that you could potentially be low in growth hormone include:

  • Suffering from depression and anxiety.
  • Having a decreased sexual pleasure or total loss of libido.
  • Showing lower levels of strength and endurance.
  • Experiencing ongoing hair loss and dry skin.
  • Noting higher levels of triglycerides in the bloodstream and higher HDL levels.
  • Having reduced bone density and a risk of osteoporosis.

You may also notice that you are gaining weight, and your insulin resistance risk is increasing.

So as you can see, you don’t have to suffer from low testosterone levels. There are steps that you can take to elevate your levels back up to a normal range so you can see success with your muscle building program.

7 Ways to Boost Testosterone Levels

While it unfortunately is normal to see a decline in testosterone to some degree with age, there are many things you can do to offset this natural decline if you plan properly.

Aside from supplements, you can increase testosterone naturally with food, exercise, lifestyle, and more. Let's take a look.

1. Supplement With L-Glutamine

Optimum Nutrition L-Glutamine

Glutamine is an amino acid that many athletes choose to supplement with as it can strengthen the immune system and decrease the catabolic response in the body.

This means it may foster increased strength and lean muscle mass development.

In addition to that, you may also notice that adding glutamine to your protocol helps to increase IGF-1 and HGH, according to one study published in the Journal of Human Sport And Exercise [1].

You can also check out these hgh supplements.

Mix this glutamine with your post-workout drink or take it before bed. Both times are great options.

2. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Any workout program you are on should already include high-intensity interval training, as this is a powerful form of exercise that can yield excellent results.

It also provides other benefits. Research published in the Sports Medicine journal noted that during intense intervals with test subjects, their 24-hour HGH secretion was increased.

Do some HIIT every other day and constantly maintain higher hormonal levels [2].

3. Eat More Saturated Fat

Avocado fruit on a market

If you're hoping to boost your testosterone levels, you may want to increase the intake of saturated fats a bit.

This doesn't mean your next breakfast should consist of nothing but eggs, bacon, and butter, but it does mean that you shouldn't be trying to cut out all saturated fat in your diet.

Studies show that men with a higher consumption of saturated fat and a lower dietary fiber consumption tend to have higher testosterone profiles than men who eat a high-fiber, low-fat diet plan.

Don't cut out all fiber, don't overdo it. Balance is critical here. Focus on getting in some natural saturated fats from healthy sources such as dairy products, red meats such as beef, pork, coconut oil, and moderate your intake of vegetables.

4. Stress Less

It's also essential that you do whatever you can to control and manage your stress levels.

Stress causes the release of cortisol in the body, a catabolic stress hormone (breaks down tissue) in nature.

This counteracts what testosterone does (builds up tissue) as it is an anabolic hormone.

Research published in the Experientia journal noted that males aged 30-55 classified as having high psychological stress had significantly lower testosterone levels than their lower-stress counterparts [3].

5. Get To Bed On Time

Sleep is another critical element in the testosterone optimization equation. If you aren't getting quality shut-eye each night, you can rest assured your hormone levels are suffering.

One study published in the Jama journal noted that when test subjects went just one week with sleep restriction to five hours per night, they said testosterone levels were 10-15% lower than when they slept for 8 hours per week [4].

Considering the average yearly decline in testosterone is akin to 1-2%, if you are missing out on sleep, you could be walking around with a man's testosterone levels a decade older than you.

6. Eat Plenty Of Zinc Rich Foods

Oysters on a plate

Zinc is one nutrient you'll also want to pay close attention to getting more of in your diet to help optimize your testosterone levels.

Men will lose some zinc with ejaculation, so if you have an active sex life, you'll want to double up on your dosages.

You could be falling short.

Zinc includes grass-fed beef, yogurt, lamb, chickpeas, pumpkin seeds, cashews, and oysters.

Zinc plays a crucial role in testosterone concentrations in the body, as research shows men deficient in zinc normally maintain lower than-usual levels [5].

7. Don’t Overdo Cardio Training

If you want to build more muscle and get stronger, thus increasing your testosterone levels, now might not be the time to start training for that marathon event you’ve always wanted to run.

Studies suggest that endurance training suppresses testosterone release in the male body, thus standing in your way of success [6].

Instead, focus on short-duration sprint training if you want to keep some cardio in the picture. You don’t need to do much of this to maintain good cardiovascular shape if you are also performing intense weight lifting workouts as well.

What is Growth Hormone?

Athlete man standing in a gym

Growth hormone is another potent anabolic hormone in the body that is secreted heavily during the puberty years when you notice all the rapid changes in your growth and development taking place.

When people think of human growth hormones, they often drift to athletes caught cheating or abusing steroids.

And while it is true that you can inject growth hormone into your body to enhance your physique and physical performance, you can also strive to increase natural growth hormone levels and do so safely.

That is what we are going to talk about here today. Human growth hormone is produced in the pituitary gland and plays many bodily roles.

How Growth Hormone Helps You

Some of the main roles of this hormone include regenerating old cells, maintaining healthy tissues of the brain and organ systems, and helping with the development of lean muscle mass.

When growth hormone is released from the pituitary gland, it is quickly converted into growth factors, the most notable one (and one you may have heard of before) being IGF-1.

Those who have healthy and elevated levels of growth hormone in the body will reap many different benefits, including accelerated lean muscle mass and strength development, increased total body fat loss, improved bone strength and resilience, lower risk for heart disease, enhanced sleep quality, as well as a better overall mood.

3 Ways to Boost Growth Hormones

1. Try L-Arginine

Extra Strength L Arginine Nitric Oxide Supplement

Yet another supplement to consider adding to your routine to help accelerate the growth hormone response is L-Arginine.

This amino acid appears to increase growth hormone levels even while you are at rest; however, combining the supplement with exercise can increase 300-500% [7].

L-Arginine can also help act as a vasodilator in the body, increasing total blood and oxygen flow to and from the muscle tissues.

It may also boost endurance, kick-start recovery, and allow you to perform one or two more reps during each set you do.

2. Watch A Comedy Movie

Here's a fun way to boost your growth hormone levels: watch a funny movie. Research published in the Advances In Mind-Body Medicine noted that when subjects experienced laughter, they had a positive release of beta-endorphins and HGH in the body [8].

Because stress releases cortisol, which opposes growth hormone, it shouldn't be a significant surprise that laughter poses the opposite benefit.

3. Dark Colored Fruits And Vegetables

A bunch of green kale

If you want to change your diet to help increase your growth hormone release, try adding more brightly colored fresh fruits and vegetables.

These foods are rich in vitamin C content, positively correlated with a higher overall level of growth hormone in the body.

Researchers noted that when subjects are deficient in this antioxidant-providing vitamin, they also tend to have low growth hormone levels.

Berries, peppers, tomatoes, and spinach are all excellent sources of vitamin C to focus on adding to your diet plan [9].

So there you have some of the significant ways of boosting the growth hormone levels in your body.

What Is Insulin?

Black and white photo of a woman holding pasta

Most people have heard of insulin before, but they tend to think of it negatively.

They either think of a person with diabetes who has to inject themselves with insulin or think of the hormone released when carbohydrates are eaten, leading to fat gain.

And while it's true insulin is released whenever you eat carbohydrate-rich foods, which can lead to fat gain, it can also build muscle mass if used correctly.

When you spike your insulin, your body's environment will largely dictate whether the muscle is built or fat is gained. Likewise, how many carbs you eat will also play a key role.

The trick is to learn how to manage insulin levels best to get the muscle-building effects without fat gain.

How Insulin Can Help Muscle Building

Know that the leading role of insulin in the body is to help keep blood glucose levels within a safe range.

Whenever you eat carbohydrates, they break down in the body into glucose, increasing your blood glucose levels.

The more simple the carbohydrate and the larger the dose, the higher those blood glucose levels. The body releases a corresponding insulin level to manage that extra glucose in response.

At this point, the insulin shuttles the glucose off to the muscle cells (for muscle building and glycogen replenishment purposes) or to the body fat cells.

5 Ways to Boost Your Insulin Levels

You can undoubtedly get insulin by using a few diet and exercise-related strategies. Here's how.

1. Eat Carbohydrate Rich Foods After Exercise

Man holding homemade pasta in his hand

The primary time you should focus on eating very carbohydrate-dense foods (think bagels, bread, pasta, etc.) is immediately following an exercise session.

Your muscles are depleted of their glucose storage (muscle glycogen), so your body will most likely use any carbohydrates you eat to help replenish those stores.

In addition, you will also use any added carbohydrates above and beyond your energy and muscle glycogen replenishment needs to help build new lean muscle mass tissue.

If there's one time of the day you can get away with eating carbohydrates that are a bit simpler (such as white bread, rice cakes, etc.), this is it. Take advantage of this fact.

2. Eat Fat And Protein With Carbohydrates During Non-Exercise Times

When you aren't exercising, your goal should be to keep insulin levels as stable as possible.

This will help prevent any carbohydrates you eat from getting shuttled off to body fat stores. Instead, they'll be burned slowly for energy.

An excellent way to slow down the release of carbohydrates in the bloodstream is to focus on eating those carbohydrates with proteins and dietary fats.

Combining all three nutrients in one meal will minimize insulin while maximizing satiety. It's the best way to keep yourself lean.

Also, focus on lower-density carbohydrates at these meals, choosing vegetable-based foods.

3. Regulate How Many Carbohydrates You Are Eating

It’s going to be essential that even if your goal is muscle building, you are still regulating how many carbohydrates you take in.

Remember, any energy taken in over and beyond your needs will eventually end up as body fat storage.

You can only build so much muscle in any given day, so be sure that you are monitoring this.

Keep your carbohydrate needs in check by tracking your daily totals.

4. Perform Intense Activity, Particularly Weight Lifting

Your insulin sensitivity, which refers to how sensitive your body is to the insulin released from your pancreas, can also influence whether the carbohydrates you eat end up as body fat stores.

The better your insulin sensitivity is, the better the entire system works, and the more likely you'll move carbohydrates to the muscle stores rather than fat stores.

Intense physical exercise, especially weight training, helps boost insulin sensitivity, which can help put you at an advantage [10].

5. Use Cinnamon With Your Foods Often

Cinnamon on a white table

Consider sprinkling a little cinnamon on your carbohydrate-rich foods as often as possible.

Adding cinnamon to that morning bowl of oatmeal, for instance, or sprinkling it on your sweet potatoes may help increase insulin sensitivity further, giving you optimal blood glucose control [11].

By using this spice, you can help stay leaner, despite eating those carbohydrates.

There are many ways to manage your insulin levels, and most of these steps aren't especially hard or out of the ordinary of what you should be doing to help promote a healthy body.

Boosting your Anabolic Hormones

So there you have the main ways to better control the three essential anabolic hormones that influence the process of muscle building.

If you can get all of these working in your favor, you can rest assured they will positively affect the results you see.


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