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The Fall of The Greatest Theory of Muscle Growth

May 09 2010

The recent study was the final nail in the coffin for one of the greatest theories of muscle growth-the hormone theory - proposed by the prominent researcher William J Kramer.

What is the hormone theory of muscle growth?

  • Growth & Development: Hormones like testosterone, growth hormone, & IGF-1 are important for growth & development.
  • Injection of hormones: Injection of hormone,s especially testosterone has shown increase strength and muscle mass while suppression of testosterone has shown to decrease in muscle mass & strength.
  • Acute Increase after exercise: These same hormones are elevated acutely after resistance training. The magnitude of increase depends on rest times between sets, the weight used and so on. For example, the large rises in these hormones are observed after high intensity exercises with short rest periods using big muscle groups (multi-joint exercises).

Based on the above hormone hypothesis , it is assumed that

  • Exercise induced muscle growth is primarily due to an acute increase in these hormones.
  • Hence workouts should mainly use multi joint exercises with short rest periods to raise the hormone levels.
  • Small exercising muscle groups (e.g., biceps), which are incapable of causing large increases in anabolic hormones when used in isolation, should be trained concurrently with large exercising muscle masses like squats or leg press that can elevate testosterone and GH.

The fall of the hormone hypothesis

  • Local factors in muscle growth: The recent discovery of local factors like MGF,muscle IGF-1 showed that it is local factors that are mainly responsible for muscle growth and not systemic hormones. The discovery of these local factors, which are found inside the muscle, showed why muscle growth is specific to the exercised muscle. If systemic hormone were indeed responsible, you would have seen an increase in muscle growth in the non-exercised muscle too. 
  • No effect of GH administration: Injection of high doses growth hormone to raise resting levels resulted in little increase in muscle growth or strength. So the benefits of these tiny spikes in GH after exercise which do not even change the resting levels are questionable.
  • Unilateral exercises: Increase in muscle growth has been observed with unilateral exercises like biceps curl without any increases in systemic hormones. For example, unilateral exercise like biceps curl and leg extensions which do not cause a spike in systemic hormones have shown to increase muscle growth and strength.
  • No Increase in protein synthesis: There was no significant increase in protein synthesis due to an acute increase in systemic hormones after the workout.

BUT the question can these spikes in systemic hormones play a small role if not a major role in muscle growth which might have been overlooked in the above studies .  All the above were indirect studies until the recent study.

What was the study design?

  • Twelve healthy untrained young men trained their biceps independently for 15 wk on separate days.
  • In one training condition, participants performed isolated biceps curl exercise designed to maintain basal hormone levels.
  • In the other training condition, participants performed identical biceps curls followed immediately by a high volume of leg resistance exercise to elicit a large increase in these hormones .
  • If the hormone hypothesis were true, the biceps curl plus leg pres group should see greater muscle growth & strength, right.

hormone hypothesis oh muscle growth

What were the results of the study

Unfortunately, at the end of 15 weeks there was no significant difference between groups in strength, muscle cross sectional area, & Type 1 or Type 2 fiber area.

Simply put, the increase in testosterone, growth hormone or IGF-1after your workout do not help in muscle growth/strength.This study was the final nail in the coffin and clearly drops the curtain on one of the best known theories of muscle growth .

Practical Applications

  • Don’t perform multi-joint exercise like deadlifts, squats, 20 resp squats or leg press for the “sake of increasing hormones”.
  • Don’t keep rest times short or perform high intensity workouts for the purpose of “raising hormone levels”.
  • If your trainer says the program works by increasing hormones, send this article to him

Reference 1

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OMAR | Mon May 10, 2010  

Is there any reason to favour a multi-joint exercise over a single-joint one for bodybuilding, e.g., overhead presses over side laterals for the medial head of the deltoids? Would they be equally effective if one applies cycled progressive overload to both?

Anatoly | Mon May 10, 2010  

I can see only one: you can’t use really heavy weights when using isolated exercises.
But we already know that there is no SO much cons to heavy weights.
So - no, I can’t see any. It just another exercise.
we must prefer exercise from bio-mechanical reasons.
Suppose a trainee has long hands and narrow shoulders.
He doesn’t get a lot from bench press, because of his anatomy. In his case fly’s will be more effective

Karky | Mon May 10, 2010  

I think it has a lot to do with the time you use.
I’d rather do a deadlift than shrugs, ham curls, and some kind of weird lower back isolation exercise.
More bang for your buck, so to speak.

Anoop | Mon May 10, 2010  


I guess you are the same Zach in the forums. Welcome to Exercise Biology!

As you pointed out that’s one reason most people stick with multijoint exercises. If you come close to failure or use a heavy weight, your can’t help but recruit all the fibers.

BUT as Anatoly said, this may not be the case always depening upon individual bio-mechanics.
Another example is if you have weak triceps, you will stop your bench set before your chest get enough stimulation.

There is that time factor too as Karky says. 

In my opinion there is a volume factor too. With multi-joint exercises you are hitting the same body part more than once in the week.

Jim@TBF | Sat May 15, 2010  

Great article, but one question that may require speculation. The body is responding with increased hormone out put due to the stress placed on it, why if it is of no consequence?

Anatoly | Sat May 15, 2010  

More stress is not always more growth.
Like running a marathon is a great stress, right?

OMAR | Sat May 15, 2010  

Thanks Anoop.  You have a wonderful website.

Karky | Sat May 15, 2010  

Jim, that’s a good question.
Growth hormone has a glucoregulatory role (it serves to maintain blood glucose) Which means there is a reason for it to be elevated after exercise.
As for testosterone, I don’t know. But I think testosterone increases in response to a lot of stressors.

Anoop | Sun May 16, 2010  

Hi Jim,

As Karky said, it could be just due to the metabolic stress and the fuel utilization. For ex, breath holding and hyperventilation causes increase in GH release. But we are not sure, especially in the case of testosterone.

Thanks Zach for the comment.

Jim@TBF | Sun May 16, 2010  

Hmm… interesting to say the least.

Anoop | Mon May 17, 2010  

I read in a couple of forums where the article was linked that somehow the article says multi-joint exercises are not effective anymore. People usually read too much or read too little.

I have no where said that multi-joint exercises are less effective because the article debunks the hormone hypothesis. These exercises might be working via other mechanisms.

Anatoly | Mon May 17, 2010  

I really like Lyle’s attitude to the subject:
Training has not and never should be an either/or proposition (either all compounds or all isolation or whatever nonsensical track you’re on right now) and the sooner you stop thinking in such simple terms, you’ll make better progress.

Put differently: all extreme stances are always wrong.

Steve | Fri May 21, 2010  

So, basically

If you exercise your arms, they will grow bigger; if you do not exercise your arms, they will not grow bigger.

Anoop | Mon May 24, 2010  

Hi Steve,


But the question still remains that will doing deadlift or chin ups make your arms bigger or just isolation exercises? Maybe both is the answer.

So don’t add multijoint exercise for the sake of hormones. Add it for all other reasons.

Steve | Mon May 24, 2010  

I agree, it’s probably both of them.

According to common sense, when a muscle grows larger, it will become stronger. But because a person is strong does not mean they are special to look at; a person could look bad(e.g. too much body fat) or good.

Steve | Wed May 26, 2010  

“Simply put, the increase in testosterone, growth hormone or IGF-1after your workout do not help in muscle growth/strength.”



I took hormones from 2006 to 2009. I took them every day and nearly every week. I always noticed two effects from the hormones: I gained strength quickly and my libido was ‘constantly’ higher.

I still lift weights seven days of the week, including walking, running, cycling, at the same intensity—without the acne, mood changes, insomnia, blood pressure changes, and the rediculous libido. I’ve never thought much about so-called performance-ehancing drugs since.


Karky | Wed May 26, 2010  

Did you take testosterone? Elevated levels of resting testosterone aid in muscle growth. What he is talking about here is the transient exercise induced hormone elevations.

Anoop | Thu May 27, 2010  

i think Steve was just saying how he likes it better after he stopped taking T.

There was a couple of forums where this article popped up and it was just amazing how people were arguing for the hormone theory though it had no clear evidence to begin with or to end with.

Even there are multiple lines of evidence against it, people just cannot accept that multi-joint exercises works, but not via hormone theory. They have no problem accepting a correlative evidence but have some serious issues with the design and evidences against it. 

These are just classic examples of psychological biases people fall for.

TPT | Tue June 01, 2010  

so you have no problems with the design of the study by west et al?

Anoop | Tue June 01, 2010  

Hi Tpt,

I don’t think so.

The one which a few argued in the NSCA forum is about the contra-lateral arm design. But they had 2 gap to make sure the systemic effects don’t overlap. since the increase only lasts for 15-30 min, 2 days is plenty of time.

What else do you see?

TPT | Wed June 02, 2010  

tread lightly in assuming that acute anabolic responses dont serve any strength or hypertrophic functions. especially, test.

regarding design, the alternating training conditions with alternating anabolic responses could set the occasion for similar strength and hypertrophic effects of both arms.

the next step in design would be to conduct a between-subjects design to rule out cross education effect or something similar where the anabolic responses to training one arm/leg doesnt confound outcomes of the contralateral arm.

nsca has a forum? i have to check that out.

Karky | Wed June 02, 2010  

“regarding design, the alternating training conditions with alternating anabolic responses could set the occasion for similar strength and hypertrophic effects of both arms.”

What do you mean by this? alternating training conditions?
One group had biceps training and hormones (leg exercise) one group had biceps training without hormones (no leg training). If the hormones induced by the leg training had an anabolic effect, the hormone group should have gotten more hypertrophy.

Do you mean that the untrained arm could get a size increase from the hormones in the hormone group and that could confound the results? If that could happen, how would it confound the results of the study when the trained arm (not the untrained arm) from the two groups are compared in CSA increase?

Anoop | Wed June 02, 2010  


As I said, the acute hormone elevations don’t last for more than 30 minutes so 2 days gap is more than enough.And the theory has always been systemic hormones to effect exercised muscle and not “non -exercised arm”. If you think, you can grow your upper body by doing heavy leg press, then the design is not valid. But that’s not the case here.

There might be cross education effect due to neural mechanisms but that’s not what we are looking at. And NSCA forum is only for members I think and they are having some technical issues.

The within subject design helps minimizing the need of a large sample size and other variables.

Karky | Wed June 02, 2010  

Never mind my question, I just got it, I’m a little slow today.

struck | Sat June 05, 2010  

Next time, use a study that’s not on rank beginners. Ever heard of beginner / newbie gains? They’re almost the same regardless of their training protocol - unless of course, it’s utterly flawed and is what they’re already used to.

Run a study on group of people who have trained for a year or so.

Stop directly correlating factors disregarding all other factors.

Karky | Sat June 05, 2010  

Newbie gains are associated with neural adaptations, not hypertrophy, which was the outcome measure of this study.

I admit that there are differences between trained and untrained, but I don’t see how trained means you’ll get a completely different response from a hormone.

There are other findings that corroborate this study (though not as directly as this one), for example, that injection of GH does not induce skeletal muscle hypertrophy in healthy humans

As for your last point “Stop directly correlating factors disregarding all other factors.”
The design of this study doesn’t disregard all other factors. The people doing the different exercises are the same (intra individual design), which means that all factors are equal between them.

It would be fun to see a study in trained people, but I really don’t think the results would be different.

Anoop | Mon June 07, 2010  

If you don’t see the effect of hormones on newbies,who are the most sensitive & responsive to muscle growth, then you will see close to nothing for trained.

And there is nothing to show that in trained the aute hormonoes spikes are mugh higher or longer.

There is enough evidence to show that the hormone theory was flawed. It is not just this one study. I dont think people need to put so much faith in this theory when the association was just a correlation and nothing more to begin with.

Charlie | Wed June 16, 2010  

hi everyone! my name is Charlie. I have been severely injured in a stroke. My right side was completely paralyzed and i worked out hard for the past five years and am now almost fully rehabilitated. i think, yes, beginners do grow much quicker, because after a while it was like i hit a brick wall. But what i found out is just switching your excercise pattern every so often is what really works. I guess it would be called muscle confusion. And about the hormone theory, i think everyone’s hormone levels peak early in the morning.

Sirdon | Thu June 17, 2010  

But experts says that by doing heavy squat we can build huge upper body,any reasons?

Sirdon | Thu June 17, 2010  

If we dont do heavy squat how can we build huge upper body,i think u must Google to find the truth..

Karky | Thu June 17, 2010  

Well, training the legs shouldn’t have any impact on your upper body. But squats will work the upper body to some degree, for example the erector spina muscles (upper back erectors), the traps, etc.

It has been shown that working one limb does not affect protein synthesis in any other muscles in the body than the muscle used for the exercise.

Charlie | Thu June 17, 2010  

the only muscle on my upper body i feel as i am doing squats is my lower back. but for that i just wear one of those belts. So maybe if you hit your lower back harder and get that stronger, that may have an effect on your legs.

Sirdon | Fri June 25, 2010  


Anoop does squat build upper body?

charlie | Fri June 25, 2010  

i just now got finished working my legs, and i really don’t feel anything worked on my upper body. i guess if u are doing squats and you hold the bar a certain way, u might feel your traps, but it wouldn’t really be working out your traps. but squats will definitely help you build your upper body. strong legs are the foundation. you just have to find out what works for you.

steven | Sun June 27, 2010  

12 untrained individuals ? How hard do you think they were really working ? No mention of EPOC either. Why didn’t you reference other studies ?

Karky | Sun June 27, 2010  

What does EPOC have to do with this? And they were working hard enough to elevate their hormones and get stronger and bigger, but the hormones had no effect on size.

steven | Sun June 27, 2010  

How do you know how hard they are working ? OK, so we just all do 5 reps of 50% of RM max and just sit around the gym and talk about chicks and grow. What a joke ?

steven | Sun June 27, 2010  

So women and men and teenagers and old guys all should grow the same, right ? T means nothing.

Anatoly | Mon June 28, 2010  

basal level of T means something
short spikes of T after exercises means nothing

Karky | Mon June 28, 2010  

I said they worked hard enough to grow and to elicit a hormone response post exercise. If these hormones helped, then the high hormone arms should have grown more, but they didn’t.

Karky | Mon June 28, 2010  

replace “if these hormones helped” with “if the post exercise transient increase in hormones helped” in the above post :p

steven | Mon June 28, 2010  

OK, I get it. However, what would be the purpose for the increase in GH and T upon completion of the workout ? There has to be some biological purpose, right ? I would assume that it makes you get strong and bigger. No ?

Anatoly | Mon June 28, 2010  

Hormonal spikes is a result of stress.
Any stress, not only one we got during strength training

steven | Mon June 28, 2010  

Cortisol, True. T and GH ? Has to be a benefit longer term. Why train with high intensity then ?

Karky | Mon June 28, 2010  

T is increased in response to many stressors. GH also acts as a glucoregulatory hormone, so there is a purpose to it.

And it’s not really high intensity that elicits a big hormone response, it’s high volume low rest, which often implies less intensity.

steven | Mon June 28, 2010  

So you must think “Crossfit” is really a waste of time. I never did it, but short rest seems to get me results. Hypertrophy.
I know for most trainers “intensity” is just increased load, but I use it for making the exercise tougher.

Anatoly | Mon June 28, 2010  

By using short rests between sets you increase workout density and get more “metabolic” stress
However you can use much lighter weights vs. when you use descent rest intervals (2-3 min), so you loose tension stimulus.
I’d say it’s wise to use both protocols in one workout or split to different workouts

Karky | Mon June 28, 2010  

I didn’t say short rest periods don’t work. I simply said that the post exercise hormone spike doesn’t seem to do anything for hypertrophy. If short rest works it could work through other mechanisms.

steven | Tue June 29, 2010  

I know we will never agree, but I still feel that the short term spike in GH and T does have an impact long term.

Mike | Tue July 06, 2010  

Theories neither rise nor fall based on evidence collected from 12 persons. Moreover, leg presses in no way equate to deadlifts, clean and jerks, or even weighted squats. Extrapolating from them makes little sense. The editors of this site should really be ashamed to have permitted such outrageous claims to be published here. This is very poor science, and even poorer science journalism.

Karky | Tue July 06, 2010  

What would deadlifts, clean and jerks do that these exercises didn’t? Give an even higher spike in hormones? Would that higher spike make them work, and why would not the hormone spike in this study work to increase hypertrophy?

It seems a lot of people who comment here aren’t aware that they tested if this workout led to increased hormones, and it did, but they did not help.

Anoop | Tue July 06, 2010  

Hi Mike,

You should read the whole study before you try to comment on it. The design is a within-subject design so the actual number is 24.Alo a within subject design is much less subjected to variabilty than the usual between subject designs.

And as Karky said, the testorone and GH level rose significantly. And you cannot do a study to test the effectiveness of hormones with deadlifts & squats because these lifts indirectly work your upper body muscles too and hence any change in upper body muscles cannot be attributed to the hormones per se.

steven | Tue July 06, 2010  

I am with Mike on this one. What the hell is the purpose of the increase in T and GH, if it serves no purpose.

Karky | Tue July 06, 2010  

We’ve been over this. GH is a glucoregulatory hormone, which could explain the increase. And testosterone increases in response to a lot of stressors. It is a good question though, what is the purpose of these hormones? is it anything beyond glucose regulation and a standard stress response. Perhaps, I don’t know, it could be. However, the hormones did not affect hypertrophy in this study. Even injected GH doesn’t give skeletal muscle hypertrophy in adult humans. Testosterone does, however (gains have been associated with higher resting levels of test and injecting test causes hypertrophy), but perhaps the spike from exercise isn’t enough to make a difference.

Jeff Holt | Mon July 12, 2010  

What were the exercise set and rep schemes?  What was the motivation level of each individual?  What genetics did each subject have (great ability to gain strength and muscle size or poor ability to gain both?

This study does not tell me anything.

Anoop | Thu July 15, 2010  

Hi Jeff,

The exercise and set scheme were based on previous studies used to raise hormone levels. And it indeed raised their levels. The motivation levels were similar since it was a within subject design. The genetic level is well taken care because of the within subject design

And you should read the study when you get a chance. It is free text.Thanks for the comment.

Al | Thu October 21, 2010  

So my understanding of the study is that they used the same group of 12 healthy young men in 2 different time intervals.  The coincidence is interesting that the hormone did not contribute to these mens growth.  But how are we trying to claim that a sample of 12 men can possibly represent the population of North America.  Its a nice case study but hardly something I can refer to in application for all men who are training to gain muscle growth.

Anoop | Sat October 30, 2010  

Hi Al,

Thanks for the comment and good question.

The sample represents young men in the recruited area (random selection) who are the best subjects for a muscle growth study.Will this sample represents the entire north american population? I don’t know and from my knowledge there is no equation to find the number of people so that we can extrapolate the results. It is usually a subjective criteria.

What we can find out is the number of subjects required to find a significant difference. They didn’t have the power analysis in the study and most of these exercise studies have small sample size due to the cost involved. So the big question is is this sample size big enough to find a difference?

Greg | Sun November 07, 2010  

Sorry, but you do realize the fallacy in your argument, right?  You are referencing one article in a field that contains a limitless amount of information.  Being a scientist, I would assume you understand the limits of human experiment.  Perhaps the greatest influence on any experiment is the determination of the experimenter to prove their own hypothesis as correct.  Dr. Kraemer’s theories on muscle development and hormones is widely accepted in this field.  There are people that can claim that we didn’t land on the moon with credible scientific data.  Do you believe them?  The person who wrote this article is a disciple from a lone mind in Canada that believes that Testosterone has nothing to do with human growth.  Citing—>1<—study to support your idea is rudimentary and immature.  I am disappointed that an American University would give you a Master’s degree.

Anoop | Sun November 07, 2010  

Hi Greg,

Thanks for the comment.

There are so many theories that has been widely accepted for so many years and then rejected. For example, blood letting was the “widely accepted treatment” for many diseases by experts for centuries based on the humoral theory.

And it is not just one study if you read the article.

And the greatest crime a researcher can commit is to believe in his hypothesis. so you are wrong there.

And here is what I posted in another forum:

Here are the evidences against hormone theory:
1. The discovery of local growth factors like MGF & IGF-1 to be responsible for muscle growth
2. Muscle growth observed even in GH deficient adults and elderly with low GH
3. Muscle growth observed even after surgical removal of the GH axis in animals
4. Injections of GH do not increase muscle mass in older people, young men and experienced weight lifters
5. Gh administration questioned even for patients with aids and other muscle wasting condition.
6. Large increases in GH found with hyperventilation, breath holding and nicotinic acid ingestions. None of these activities remotely affects muscle.
7. Workout induced increase in hormones do not change resting hormone levels
8. Workout induced hormones only last for 15-30 min post workout
9. Single joint exercise shows muscle growth with no increase in workout induced hormones.
10. Workout induced hormones DO NOT increase protein synthesis
11. And finally the direct evidence - Workout induced hormones do not increase strength or muscle CSA or fiber CSA.

Evidence for
1. Increase in hormones correlated with muscle growth
2. Injection of test which changes resting levels at supra-physiological levels increase muscle growth.

Al | Sun November 07, 2010  

Hi Anoop,

There are actually lots of sample size calculators which we can use to assess a 95 to 99 percent confidence level on the representativeness of a study on a population.  Here is an example.


I agree that the study does offer a high level of coincidence for the group of young males.  So this study could help me with my training applications with that group.  It just doesn’t help me with the other demographics of my training population.  Including the most common personal training clients (women between 35 and 55 years of age).

thanks for your insights.


Greg | Sun November 07, 2010  

Are you really comparing this theory with blood-letting?  Something that took place before the scientific method was widely used?  Please….

I am aware that it is not just one study, but you are using a study (involving only 12 people) by a student from a University that has been known to dispute nearly everything Kraemer has hypothesized.  There are several other studies from credible individuals that have supported the opposite claims.

Also, my remark regarding researchers and their hypotheses was meant to convey the idea that one of the greatest factors determining the outcome of an experiment is the bias of the researcher(s) themselves towards their own hypothesis.  I agree this is wrong, but is quite apparent in the authors you cite that they have an agenda.

I’m not going to get into a debate with you about the points you made for and against this theory, because I’ve already wasted too much time on your site.  You’re drawing conclusions from a very small pool of studies from an even smaller pool of departments.  You can reply to this if you’d like, but I won’t be wasting any more time on your site so it will fall upon deaf ears.

Anoop | Sun November 07, 2010  

Hi Greg,

The blood letting was to say that if it is widely accepted doesn’t mean it is true, unless it is tested. The same goes for hormone hypothesis.

And I would love to see the “several other studies from credible individuals”. Kraemer couldn’t find any in his reviews besides correlation studies. If you can come up with anything, that would be great.

Thanks for the comments.

Anoop | Mon November 08, 2010  

Hi Al,

Statistics is not my strong point so take whatever I say with a pinch of salt.

The equation you gave is for finding sample size for descriptive studies. For hypothesis testing, the equations are different. The sample size for hypothesis testing depends on your effect size, the alpha level, the power and the outcome type. We can change all these variables and get different sample sizes which do not say much about the generalization to the population.

External validity is more about random sampling, random assignment, exclusion & inclusion criteria and so on. 

I don’t see any biological plausibilty that the results are going to change in older women.So the study is good starting point even for that population unless it has confirmed in another trial which it hasn’t.

Andrew | Mon November 29, 2010  

A lot of people seem to be asking,” Then what is the biological purpose?” Did it ever occur to you that the answer isn’t necessarily : To make you’re muscles huge. For instance, when I run for a long distance I start to breathe heavily. Is this so my muscles can grow faster? No, it’s so I can supply the extra amounts of oxygen I need to make my body work under these conditions. If I run and start breathing like that from the beginning I’m not going to see faster results. I’m just going to be light headed. If you constantly shoot up hormones you may very well see results, but you won’t get anything from the short spike after post workout.

Erik | Wed December 01, 2010  

Next time insert heavy squats instead of the “wuss” press and see what happens! One twelve- person study? Really? I’d like to see you debate this on-stage with Mike Mahler!

Andrew | Thu December 02, 2010  


Yes, one twelve person study is more than enough to test something like this. One reason being that it makes sense. A 30 minute spike is very minimal compared to the base amount of testosterone that you have your whole life, so why would it have a huge effect on muscle growth. Another reason would be that these were all normal males. Most things that are true would apply to twelve normal people. It’s not like they were studying the effects of a drug. Testosterone spikes didn’t help 12 people, they wont help 1000. People are also questioning the quality of their workout, but the fact is that they worked out hard enough to achieve the testosterone spike and there was no measurable difference. Stop whining just because you have to change up your workout plan. Change happens. You’re acting like children who just found out that magic isn’t real.

Andrew | Thu December 02, 2010  

Sorry to double post, but I’d also like to say that saying,“I’d like to see you debate this on-stage with Mike Mahler,” is not a logical argument. I only assume it was the only one you could come up with because you are not a biologist or a chemist or a biochemist or a doctor. There are a lot more chemicals in the male body then testosterone. That’s a very simple minded view. People seem to think that if they take 50 grams of creatine, snort protein powder, and shoot testosterone, they’ll get huge in a week.

Anoop | Thu December 02, 2010  

Hi Erik,

Thanks for the comment. Your question has been discussed in the comments before.

It is not squats or leg press that matters here: It is if it can raise test & GH levels significantly. And it does in study.

And nobody is saying here that you shouldn’t do squats and deadlifts. They might have an effect on other body parts which has nothing to do with test and GH.

erik | Fri December 03, 2010  

Not whining here as my kettlebells keep me very happy! The title of your article, however, which sounds like the fall of the Roman Empire is a bit over the top, especially considering the fact that “Change Happens”. Also, you wrote about how posture is not related to pain, but sometimes it is which is why we teach correct form when lifting. And, as a body-worker I can tell you that we can improve and change someones structure, although difficult for some. Rolfing is a perfect example of this and the before and after pics can be incredible! Rolfing clients, in addition to direct body-work also are given corrective homework to do to help the process. I think that an article like this may undermine quality work that is being done. I know that it is a sometimes complex issue that involves the CNS but I am betting that you would not want your head placed 3” forward of where it is currently or displaced scapula that WILL wreak havoc, loss of movement and yes, even pain in and around the shoulder, down the arm, hand, etc.

Anoop | Sat December 04, 2010  

Hi Erik,

Yes I agree. The title is a bit over the top. If I was writing for a journal, I would have toned it down.

If you want to talk about posture, start a new thread in the forum or talk in the FMS article pls.

Bill | Sun December 05, 2010  

It’s funny the things people get bent out of shape over.

Before reading this article I would have thought that post workout hormone spikes played a roll in muscle development. The article assaulted my ignorance on this subject and I really like when that happens. It’s no big deal to me whether or not the hormone spike has a hand in hypertrophy as I had no vested interest as to whether or not it did. Why would I, and why would anybody else?

Steven | Mon December 06, 2010  


That sure is an closed minded point of view. A post work out spike in Test or GH for Hypertrophy dictates whether to train with short rest periods and volume as opposed to just lifting heavy and bullshitting between sets. I still think the former has more of a benefit. Most Bodybuilders train that way and I think it help boost your metabolism.

Bill | Mon December 06, 2010  


Not sure what was “an” closed minded point of view on that. Those who hold dearly to a cherished belief in the face of contrary evidence are the ones who tend to be closed minded.

Steven | Mon December 06, 2010  

Sorry, “a”.
“I had no vested interest as to whether or not it did. Why would I, and why would anybody else”.
Well, most of us do care. Just to assume that others don’t care is being ignorant.

Sifter | Tue December 28, 2010  

I dunno….. 1. If I do deadlifts, my arms grow, nothing specific nor isolated there, and 2.
any studies out there showing if you break a foot, and while that foot is in a cast you pedal against resistance on a bike with your good foot, your broken foot leg loses little to no muscle mass at all. So not so sure I agree with the idea of systemic growth hormone just being dismmissed outright.

Anoop | Tue December 28, 2010  

Hi Sifter,

Thanks for the comment.

1. In deadlifts, you are pulling the weight with YOUR arms. It doesn’t need the help of test and GH, does it?

2. Not sure what you are trying to say here?

Little Bill | Wed May 11, 2011  

Ok, I know this post is old but I don’t really care.  Someone will eventually come across it through google like I did.  I just wanted to say that the reason for elevated T during a workout and other stressors is probably related to survival of the human race, not looking good on the beach.

Your body senses high stress as a threat to it’s survival and probably increases T so you will procreate before you die.  That would also explain why the spike doesn’t last long once the stress is alleviated.

Anyway, people need to quit thinking of biological changes as something to do with vanity.  The human body will make whatever changes it can for energy efficiency and survival.  That’s why training works, not because it wants you to win a bodybuilding contest, a marathon, etc.

jw | Sun June 19, 2011  

If elevated levels of systemic hormones doesn’t help muscle growth/strength then all these athletes injecting steroids/GH are wasting their time/money. Roids don’t work according to these conclusions.

Anoop | Mon June 20, 2011  

Hi Jw,

I don’t think you read the article yet. Or you missed the part below:

“No effect of GH administration: Injection of high doses growth hormone to raise resting levels resulted in little increase in muscle growth or strength. So the benefits of these tiny spikes in GH after exercise which do not even change the resting levels are questionable.”

SG | Wed July 06, 2011  

Interesting article, but one important caveat: using a sample of only 12 athletes, split into two groups of 6 each, makes the results very unreliable and statistically meaningless. It’s impossible to know if the results reflect the conclusions put forth by the author or just randomness. A more serious study would need to be done with at least 30 athletes in each group for any meaningful inferences to be drawn.

The sad thing about the whole nutritional supplement industry is that claims are almost always based on such small samples. It proves nothing from a scientific standpoint.

Anoop | Tue July 12, 2011  

Hi SG,

Thanks for the comment.

It is a within study design which needs less subjects than the usual between subject design. The design takes care of problems like motivation levels and genetics which are huge in exercise science studies.

And I agree about the sample size. They didn’t do a power analysis either. I am not sure if there is a minimum of 30. I have heard a few numbers that is required to get a normal distribution, but I am not sure.

jim | Thu July 14, 2011  

fascinating article, I’ve heard talk at the gym about what to do to raise hormone levels, and according to this, all that was a load of bull!  I’m gonna have to pass it on to a few people.  thanks.

Garett | Tue December 20, 2011  

Totally lame and worthless study. Only idiots would defend this as useable exercise science.
1) Low production exercises, leg presses and knee wrecking leg extensions to measure hormone changes. If they had any common sense, have them do real squats with a heavy freeweight barbell. Won’t interfere with biceps stimulation.
Very small amount of sets and reps. Not enough to qualify as a warmup. No one in the real world of serious training does that. A real workout has far more sets and those training for serious results aim to do it with low reps and heavy weight.
2) Only done twice a week. Any serious weight training program is at least 3 times per week, usually more.
3) Tiny amount of negligible protein. 18 grams supplemental only once? Most serious trainers consume several times more than this at and in between meals.
4) Two groups of only 6 people each. Statistically insignificant.
5) Very short period of time. Only done for 15 weeks.
6) No measure of sleep or other activities. Those doing serious training often sleep up to ten hours a day.

Check the hormone levels of people doing real training, use enough people from a cross section of young, old, trained, untrained, etc. Have them on various amounts of food and supplement intakes. Show the effects of rest, sleep, other activities. Be assured of getting far different results.

This study belongs in the garbage and is irrelevant to the real world. Obviously those arguing in favour of this nonsense may be intellectual. They have a piece of paper saying they have this or that degree. BSc = Bullshit, MSc = More of the Same Bullshit, PhD = Bullshit piled high and deep. Just one other case of where it has removed them from the real world, their weak frail bodies residing in Ivory Towers of impractical and incomplete theories.

steven | Tue December 20, 2011  

Nice rebuttal Garett. I agree with you 100%. Isn’t possible to get some real scientific studies done and muscle hypertrophy and hormones ? I saw a study that compared 2 minute to 5 minute rest periods on muscle growth. Come on ! They couldn’t do 1 v 3 ? to get a better idea ?

Erik Petersen | Tue December 20, 2011  

Yes Garett, seems the knee-jerk crowd just rocked the ship completely the other way without more studies that control all variables. I would have had another group at least perform the leg press prior to bicep curls. My guess is that like most things, the answer lies somewhere in the middle:)

Anoop | Wed December 21, 2011  

Hi Garett,

Thanks for the comment. Here are your answers:

1) I am not sure if you get it.

The point is pick an exercise which won’t stress the arms and still get a significant increase in testosterone and growth hormone.  Unlike squats and deadlifts, Leg press doesn’t stress your arms , and the hormones increased significantly in the hormone group.

If you squat and deadlift, your arms are getting a great workout due to the isometric contractions. Is this this hard to understand?

2. They are hitting biceps and legs 2 times a week. That is high frequency for most people. And they are comparing to another group doing the same routine except for the leg press. The comparison is relative.

3. That is the pre and post workout. Not the meal protein intake.

4. It is within group design to minimize problems with genetics and motivation. So you only need less people with this design.

5. More than the typical study. That is almost 4 months. If you don’t see the effect in 4 months in rank beginners, forget it!

6. It shouldn’t matter because it is the same people in both groups. What affects one person in one group will affect the same in other group too.

And a simple question to Garet, Steven & Erik:  Can you show me your perfect study that proved you that workout induced hormones indeed helps with the arm growth? Even Karmer couldn’t hence my question.

steven | Fri December 23, 2011  


Anoop | Fri December 23, 2011  

Hi Steven,

How can a study for creatine has anything to do with anything about hormone increases with training? Or were you pointing out another study.

steven | Fri December 23, 2011  

keep reading, time between sets.

Anoop | Fri December 23, 2011  

Again, what has creatine supplementation go to do with the topic we are talking?

I asked you for a study which shows exercise induced hormones help in muscle growth. Why don’t you sgn up in the forum, steven?

steven | Sat December 24, 2011  

In a very recently published study, the results of which I have actually been holding back, because I thought I would get to them much earlier in this series, the very same Stuart Phillips whose studies are “responsible” (in fact it is the way they are discussed by the lay-press and abused by the supp-companies that is actually “responsible”) for the current over-emphasis on acute increases in the protein synthetic response to exercise and/or supplements, reports that there actually was a statistically significant correlation between exercise induced growth hormone release and increases in mean type I fiber (p<0.06) and type II (p<0.04) cross-sectional area (CSA) in 56 healthy previously non-resistance trained healthy young men in response to a 12-week, 5-day per week resistance training regimen (West & Phillips. 2011).

Anoop | Sat December 24, 2011  

Hi Steve,

I have read that study. Here is the conclusion of the study:” We report that the acute exercise-induced systemic hormonal responses of cortisol and GH are weakly correlated with resistance training-induced changes in fibre CSA and LBM (cortisol only), but not with changes in strength”.

If we go by this study, we should try increasing our cortisol than GH & testosterone!

steven | Sat December 24, 2011  

we can go back and forth forever, what is then the purpose of GH?

Dr. Giorgio Patino MD., | Sat January 21, 2012  

Anoop, I have to differ.
As a physician with over 18 years of clinical research on gH, my scientific analysis is different that that of yours.

We’ve run our own in-vivo research on over 489 patients over a 3-year study. 1/3 of the group on a year-round rhGH therapy, another 1/3 took only a 6/month rhGH therapy, and the final 1/3 took no rhGH at all.

The group on the year-round therapy had slight improvement over the group on the 6/month therapy; of these two; both had huge improvements over the study group that took zero rhGH.

Not to get into details as space and time does not permit; however in summary; those on rhGH had far better results than those not taking rhGH.  (and we are not including the testosterone group)

Therefore your statements show not scientific merit.


Dr. G. Patino MD., Ph.D.,
HGH Medical Clinic SA

Bill | Sat January 21, 2012  

Some spamarino from Dr. Patino!

Anoop | Mon January 23, 2012  

DR. Patino,

What results are you talking about? Where is the study?

Anthony | Sun January 29, 2012  

Interesting to read through people’s comments.  Does it really matter that a post workout spike in hormones is not the cause of muscle growth?  Your training sessions have not just become less effective.

Bane | Wed February 01, 2012  

@ Anoop
Dont you think that the group that did leg exercises also gained muscles in legs ?? This part is unclear in the study . Its ok that biceps -only group gained as much muscles in BICEPS as the leg-biceps group , but that spike in hormones was probably responsible for growth of legs too !? Isn’t then better to exercise your legs too ? Tell me what you think about this,thanks

Anoop | Thu February 02, 2012  

Hi Bane,

Thanks for the comment.

I am not sure what you are asking, Bane.

If I am reading it right, you are asking will there be an increase in muscle growth in legs when using some those same muscles to cause an increase in these hormones. I would say probably not. If we don’t see it in biceps, why should we see it in legs?

If you are asking should you workout your legs too, I would agree. But that has nothing to do with the question we are concerned with.

What do you think?



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