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Do Squats/Deadlifts Increase Testosterone?

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Oh. One more point, perhaps interesting to some. I’ve been fascinated with the idea that heavy resistance training can temporarily raise testosterone levels. I believe I’ve experienced this myself, assuming my subjective impressions can be trusted.

At any rate, I observe that my father’s first, really low free T results were based on a blood sample taken 2 days after a workout with his personal trainer. The second, not quite so low (but still low) T results were based on a sample taken the day after a workout.

Consistent with my thinking, his T levels the day after a workout were higher than his levels 2 days after a workout.


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The bump in hormones from weight training is very short-lived (typically said to be no more than about 30 minutes) and has not been shown to have any clinical significance, contrary to a lot of bodybuilding lore, at least in young, healthy men. I don’t know whether older men with low T levels have been studied.

For example, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19910330

Elevations in ostensibly anabolic hormones with resistance exercise enhance neither training-induced muscle hypertrophy nor strength of the elbow flexors.

The aim of our study was to determine whether resistance exercise-induced elevations in endogenous hormones enhance muscle strength and hypertrophy with training. Twelve healthy young men (21.8 +/- 1.2 yr, body mass index = 23.1 +/- 0.6 kg/m(2)) trained their elbow flexors independently for 15 wk on separate days and under different hormonal milieu. In one training condition, participants performed isolated arm curl exercise designed to maintain basal hormone concentrations (low hormone, LH); in the other training condition, participants performed identical arm exercise to the LH condition followed immediately by a high volume of leg resistance exercise to elicit a large increase in endogenous hormones (high hormone, HH). There was no elevation in serum growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), or testosterone after the LH protocol but significant (P < 0.001) elevations in these hormones immediately and 15 and 30 min after the HH protocol. The hormone responses elicited by each respective exercise protocol late in the training period were similar to the response elicited early in the training period, indicating that a divergent postexercise hormone response was maintained over the training period. Muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) increased by 12% in LH and 10% in HH (P < 0.001) with no difference between conditions (condition x training interaction, P = 0.25). Similarly, type I (P < 0.01) and type II (P < 0.001) muscle fiber CSA increased with training with no effect of hormone elevation in the HH condition. Strength increased in both arms, but the increase was not different between the LH and HH conditions. We conclude that exposure of loaded muscle to acute exercise-induced elevations in endogenous anabolic hormones enhances neither muscle hypertrophy nor strength with resistance training in young men.


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That’s very interesting, PG. Thanks for posting.

I have a hard time understanding some of these abstracts. It appears that this one says that elevated hormone levels were maintained at both 15 minutes and 30 minutes after leg exercises, but I can’t see where it says that the levels dropped after that. Isn’t it possible that the levels were maintained longer?

I agree that people should take my claims about squats inducing body-wide muscle growth with a grain of salt, but I also am taking this study with a similarly large helping of salt.

Some of my suspicions about this study include:

1) The protocol has the men doing curls BEFORE their leg exercises. Therefore, the curls are done in a relatively low T state. The bump in muscle growth many bodybuilders talk about may be attributable to increased workout energy and intensity caused by the spike in T. Or maybe it’s just that muscles respond differently to exercise when T is higher. Supplementing T (spiking it via leg exercises) AFTER the workout does nothing to improve workout intensity and therefore may not have much of an effect.

2) They’re comparing biceps growth with and without leg resistance exercise, but they don’t specify what that leg resistance exercise was. In my opinion, leg presses, leg extensions, and leg curls do not cause the “surge” effect I’m talking about. Only squats and possibly dead lifts do. These exercises involve many muscle groups, including legs, back, abs, and hips. Any old leg exercise won’t do. There may also be a weight threshold. Really light squats might not do much. It’s important to subject the muscles to some trauma. ALthough the study reported a bump in T after the leg resistance, I don’t know how this compares the surge one would get via squats or dead lifts.

3) The study is designed in a confusing way, and I can’t figure out which guys did what. It looks like the same guys were both control and variable, with the protocol changed on different days.

4) The guys who did the leg exercises actually showed less biceps growth than the guys who didn’t. The reason for this would be obvious to most body builders. You always work your big muscles first. If you work your big muscles second, your body’s resources are diverted from the small muscles to the big muscles, resulting in less of a sustained pump and less muscle growth.

I would have designed the study much differently.


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You can read the full text of the study for free: http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/108/1/60 To respond to a few of your points:

(1) Whenever I read Internet claims that acute hormonal bumps matter for building muscle, the idea seems to be that these affect protein synthesis. Your alternative hypothesis about increased energy is interesting, but it seems wildly implausible that you’d have more energy to put intensity into things like curls after completing an exhausting leg workout. Indeed, I’m sure that’s one reason the researchers placed the leg work after the curls — to enable participants to work their HH arms with the same intensity as their LH arms. If you want to increase your energy during a workout, have some carbs, caffeine, or ephedrine beforehand; do NOT begin your workout with killer leg work! ;)

(2) You can read the exact leg protocol in the full text. To me it sounds heavy and exhausting, resistance was progressive over the course of the study, and the leg work certainly was sufficient to provide a large temporary surge in all the hormones they examined (see the figures), but if you believe squats or deadlifts are somehow categorically different, as claims the Internet lore, this study can’t prove you wrong. Of course, I think the burden of proof falls on those claiming that squats are different, or that temporary endogenous testosterone/GH elevation matters one bit for muscle building.

(3) Yup, it’s a within-subject design, which is why it’s far superior to the badly designed 2001 study (citation #10 in this one) that used a between-subject design and that seems to have been the root of the Internet lore about T/GH bumps.

(4) There was no significant difference in muscle gains by condition. In any case, most people I know who choose to work big muscles first do so because they want to have maximal energy to put into their biggest lifts and, as mentioned before, energy tends to decrease over the course of a workout. I’m not sure what you specifically mean about the diversion of “resources” or “pump” (blood flow during lifting certainly has no bearing on muscle accretion).

(5) Total and free testosterone peaked after about 15 minutes in the HH condition and had returned to baseline by about 60 minutes.

This is a similar design to the first study so you may not like it, but here’s another. As far as I’m concerned all the Internet hearsay about the magic of squats and the importance of temporary testosterone or GH elevation is bro-science bunk, until someone provides evidence to support those ideas.

http://jp.physoc.org/content/587/21/5239.abstract

Quote
Resistance exercise-induced increases in putative anabolic hormones do not enhance muscle protein synthesis or intracellular signalling in young men

We aimed to determine whether exercise-induced elevations in systemic concentration of testosterone, growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) enhanced post-exercise myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS) and phosphorylation of signalling proteins important in regulating mRNA translation. Eight young men (20 ± 1.1 years, BMI = 26 ± 3.5 kg m−2) completed two exercise protocols designed to maintain basal hormone concentrations (low hormone, LH) or elicit increases in endogenous hormones (high hormone, HH). In the LH protocol, participants performed a bout of unilateral resistance exercise with the elbow flexors. The HH protocol consisted of the same elbow flexor exercise with the contralateral arm followed immediately by high-volume leg resistance exercise. Participants consumed 25 g of protein after arm exercise to maximize MPS. Muscle biopsies and blood samples were taken as appropriate. There were no changes in serum testosterone, GH or IGF-1 after the LH protocol, whereas there were marked elevations after HH (testosterone, P < 0.001; GH, P < 0.001; IGF-1, P < 0.05). Exercise stimulated a rise in MPS in the biceps brachii (rest = 0.040 ± 0.007, LH = 0.071 ± 0.008, HH = 0.064 ± 0.014% h−1; P < 0.05) with no effect of elevated hormones (P = 0.72). Phosphorylation of the 70 kDa S6 protein kinase (p70S6K) also increased post-exercise (P < 0.05) with no differences between conditions. We conclude that the transient increases in endogenous purportedly anabolic hormones do not enhance fed-state anabolic signalling or MPS following resistance exercise. Local mechanisms are likely to be of predominant importance for the post-exercise increase in MPS.


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Last edited by Para-Goomba : 02-18-2010 at .

Originally Posted by Para-Goomba
You can read the full text of the study for free: http://jap.physiology.org/cgi/content/full/108/1/60 To respond to a few of your points:

I’ll give it a read. Thanks. I want to point out that my views about exercise-induced anabolic effects, specifically squats-induced effects, are entirely anecdotal. My own story about this is that I used to lift weights 3x per week, for 3 hours at a pop, and I could never get my body weight above 175 pounds, even after several years. I had a very strong upper body, but I wasn’t that big.

Then I started doing squats. I don’t remember the exact timing (it was decades ago at this point), but I remember my weight quickly increasing to 205, and then eventually to 225. I was completely solid—very little fat. I don’t think it took more than 2 or 3 years to get there.

I remember thinking at the time that squats had made the difference to me. I talked to other guys at the gym about it, and they all agreed that squats were king for size gains. That’s not proof, I realize, but it’s a strong suggestion that the hypothesis has some merit.

Curiously, although I gained a lot of weight and a great deal of strength in lots of different muscles around my body, my bench press, which had always been good, did not get any better. To be fair, I wasn’t working on my benching nearly as much as before, but, on the subject of anabolic effects, it’s interesting to note that my already highly worked pecs and triceps didn’t get stronger. That suggests that maybe the anabolic effects of doing squats (assuming they exist) may not be the same as the effects of taking steroids (which I never did). Taking steroids probably would have improved my bench, too.

That personal experience disclosed, on to your points.

Originally Posted by PG
(1) Whenever I read Internet claims that acute hormonal bumps matter for building muscle, the idea seems to be that these affect protein synthesis. Your alternative hypothesis about increased energy is interesting, but it seems wildly implausible that you’d have more energy to put intensity into things like curls after completing an exhausting leg workout. Indeed, I’m sure that’s one reason the researchers placed the leg work after the curls — to enable participants to work their HH arms with the same intensity as their LH arms. If you want to increase your energy during a workout, have some carbs, caffeine, or ephedrine beforehand; do NOT begin your workout with killer leg work! ;)

My experience with squats is that I would feel tremendously hyped up and super energized after a few sets. Squats may have tired my legs, but they revved up my energy level generally. I’m telling you, I felt like King Kong after doing squats. Obviously, I don’t know the mechanism, whether it’s testosterone or something else, or a combination. But squats definitely put me in a higher energy mode, which carried over to my other exercises.

Of course, hours later I would totally crash. My appetite would surge and I’d need to sleep. But the short-term effect, for at least the 2 or 3 hours following the squats, was to be keyed up, not exhausted.

Originally Posted by PG
(2) You can read the exact leg protocol in the full text. To me it sounds heavy and exhausting, resistance was progressive over the course of the study, and the leg work certainly was sufficient to provide a large temporary surge in all the hormones they examined (see the figures), but if you believe squats or deadlifts are somehow categorically different, as claims the Internet lore, this study can’t prove you wrong. Of course, I think the burden of proof falls on those claiming that squats are different, or that temporary endogenous testosterone/GH elevation matters one bit for muscle building.

I do think that squats are categorically different from other leg exercises. They are profoundly high intensity and work many large muscles across the entire body. Maybe that’s BS, but it certainly felt like reality at the time.

Originally Posted by PG
(3) Yup, it’s a within-subject design, which is why it’s far superior to the badly designed 2001 study (citation #10 in this one) that used a between-subject design and that seems to have been the root of the Internet lore about T/GH bumps.

Maybe. I’ll have to read the study to understand exactly how they disentangled controls from variables.

Originally Posted by PG
(4) There was no significant difference in muscle gains by condition. In any case, most people I know who choose to work big muscles first do so because they want to have maximal energy to put into their biggest lifts and, as mentioned before, energy tends to decrease over the course of a workout. I’m not sure what you specifically mean about the diversion of “resources” or “pump” (blood flow during lifting certainly has no bearing on muscle accretion).

As I mentioned above, I don’t agree that the body weakens after doing heavy lifting. I believe it can get stronger. But obviously only if you’re working different muscle groups from the ones exhausted earlier. Energy eventually decreases, you’re right, but IMO only after a sustained peak, during which lots of good working out can be done.

Diversion of resources is a key point. Maybe “common knowledge” has changed since the days when I was a gym rat, but back then we all “knew” that the pump was a critical aspect of muscle growth. One of the goals was to develop a major pump and to sustain it. That meant that blood was flowing to the exercised muscles, causing them to stiffen and swell, and to become as large as possible. Maintaining the pump, even after the workout, was considered important to gaining muscle. It certainly worked for me!

The worst thing one could do, in our thinking at the time, was to work out one muscle group and then switch to a completely different one, the reason being you would totally lose your pump in the first muscle group. Now, maybe all that was BS, but it was certainly a guiding principle in our workouts.

Regarding the experiment at hand, I confess that I would never work out the way they did there. I would have legs days and I would have arms days, but never did the twain meet. The reason was, as I said above, to maintain my pump.

In fact, and to argue against myself for a minute, I recall that my big gains in weight coincided not only with my starting squats, but also in my separating leg days from other days. One day I would work legs. Another day I would work arms and chest; another day I would work abs, back, and lats.

So, in retrospect, maybe that change was as significant as starting squats. So, maybe you’re more right than I’m giving you credit for.

Not only was I squatting, but also I was working each body part less frequently. Perhaps I was overtraining before, doing all muscle groups during each workout. Doing squats forced me to separate my different body parts into different workout days. Maybe that was responsible for the muscle gain?

Originally Posted by PG
(5) Total and free testosterone peaked after about 15 minutes in the HH condition and had returned to baseline by about 60 minutes.

Okay. Perhaps squats might cause a different effect. Also, it’s possible that T crashes along with energy level after a workout. But is it possible that there was a subsequent T recovery? I always crashed after my workouts, but the next morning I would be overflowing with energy (once I shook off the stiffness). It would be interesting to track T over a longer period of time.

Another curious effect that I’ve experienced relates to post-workout behavior. If I hit the shower right away, I would crash right away. My energy dropped and I would need to lie down. However, if I could delay my shower, my energy level would stay high. I would eventually crash, but it would be a gentler crash, and I’d recover from it more quickly. Hmm.

Originally Posted by PG
This is a similar design to the first study so you may not like it, but here’s another. As far as I’m concerned all the Internet hearsay about the magic of squats and the importance of temporary testosterone or GH elevation is bro-science bunk, until someone provides evidence to support those ideas.

http://jp.physoc.org/content/587/21/5239.abstract

[b]

I’ll check it out. Thanks …


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Last edited by ModestoMan : 02-20-2010 at .

Here’s something else to look at. Although T may peak and fall after a workout, cortisol increases. This isn’t a great source, but time is short now:

Studies show that testosterone levels will elevate with exercise for about 45 to 60 minutes. After this time period, cortisol levels begin to increase and testosterone levels will decline. This decrease has been detected for up to 6 days.
See http://www.thehormoneshop.com/maint…estosterone.htm

Perhaps the subjective feelings that some of us attribute to testosterone are really more correctly attributed to cortisol?

This might also help to explain why my dick is usually shriveled to nothing after a heavy workout. ;)


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Originally Posted by ModestoMan
I used to lift weights 3x per week, for 3 hours at a pop, and I could never get my body weight above 175 pounds, even after several years.

If you weren’t gaining weight, you weren’t eating enough to do so. Also, very few guys are going to be able to recover sufficiently from 3-hour (!!!) heavy weight workouts without the use of anabolics. That’s a lot more stimulus than is needed to induce growth. Did you feel pooped all the time?

Originally Posted by ModestoMan
Then I started doing squats. I don’t remember the exact timing (it was decades ago at this point), but I remember my weight quickly increasing to 205, and then eventually to 225. I was completely solid—very little fat. I don’t think it took more than 2 or 3 years to get there.

If you simply added squats to your weekly exercise, but did not change your eating habits, then you would, by physical law, gain no weight, and in fact would lose trivial amounts of weight (based on the handful of calories burned during squats, and a bit of post-workout metabolic boost). My guess it that the hard work of squats massively boosted your appetite, and your increased eating led to your gains all over. I find heavy leg work indispensable for keeping my appetite up. One of the greatest advantages of the within-subject design for the study was to control for the overall calorie consumption differences that may occur in a between-subject design.

Originally Posted by ModestoMan
I talked to other guys at the gym about it, and they all agreed that squats were king for size gains.

I think one of the greatest values of squats (and, to some degree, deadlifts), beyond their use as a stimulus to leg growth, is that they are incredibly physically and mentally taxing lifts, so they can make less exhausting lifts seem easier, by contrast, and in that way increase a person’s overall willingness to exert themselves in the weight room.

Originally Posted by ModestoMan
Curiously, although I gained a lot of weight and a great deal of strength in lots of different muscles around my body, my bench press, which had always been good, did not get any better. To be fair, I wasn’t working on my benching nearly as much as before

Do you do any direct rotator cuff work? Some guys find they can break through benching barriers when they strengthen the small rotator cuff muscles.

Originally Posted by ModestoMan
my already highly worked pecs and triceps didn’t get stronger. That suggests that maybe the anabolic effects of doing squats (assuming they exist) may not be the same as the effects of taking steroids (which I never did). Taking steroids probably would have improved my bench, too.

I believe that the factors influencing muscle growth are local, outside something like injecting anabolics to achieve sustained supraphysiological hormone levels, so I’d see no reason to think that squatting would increase the size of your pecs and triceps, which are not much involved in the movement. The existence of meatheads at the gym with huge upper bodies and tiny chicken legs, and speed skaters and other athletes with built legs and scrawny upper bodies, is highly suggestive of the locality of muscle growth, in my opinion.

Originally Posted by ModestoMan
Of course, hours later I would totally crash. My appetite would surge and I’d need to sleep.

Ah, the appetite thing ;) Sleeping more couldn’t have hurt your gains, either. And yes, if you found your energy for lifting increased after squatting, then that must have helped, too, although I don’t know many guys who share that experience. Many report wanting to vomit after squatting heavy (connecting to the “teaching you to work hard in the gym” point I mentioned above).

Originally Posted by ModestoMan
They are profoundly high intensity and work many large muscles across the entire body. Maybe that’s BS, but it certainly felt like reality at the time.

Squats certainly involve more muscles than leg presses, and are less pleasant and more exhausting because of all the balancing muscles required, but as far as the study goes, the key, to me, is that the leg workout they had subjects do in the HH condition did increase T and other hormones a hell of a lot (temporarily). If this boost had absolutely no benefit, it would be hard to understand why a slightly larger boost (if it is larger — I know of no evidence one way or the other) from squatting or deadlifting would make a difference.

Originally Posted by ModestoMan
I recall that my big gains in weight coincided not only with my starting squats, but also in my separating leg days from other days. One day I would work legs. Another day I would work arms and chest; another day I would work abs, back, and lats.

So, in retrospect, maybe that change was as significant as starting squats

So you used to do 3 full-body workouts a week? If each of those workout was for 3 hours, then yeah, you were overtraining. Have you tried 3 full-body workouts a week with less volume (e.g., 1 hour per workout)? You might find that even more effective than your current split routine. Or not. Everyone is different.

Originally Posted by ModestoMan
It would be interesting to track T over a longer period of time.

It would, although I wouldn’t expect any spontaneous rises after the hormones return to baseline.

Originally Posted by ModestoMan
If I hit the shower right away, I would crash right away. My energy dropped and I would need to lie down.

I have no idea why this is, but I’ve also found that a shower (especially a hot one) can really have a sedative effect on me, late in the day. Useful if you have trouble sleeping :)


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Originally Posted by Para-Goomba
I have no idea why this is, but I’ve also found that a shower (especially a hot one) can really have a sedative effect on me, late in the day. Useful if you have trouble sleeping :)

The hot shower+workout spikes up your body temperature. Then the body drops your body temperature to reach homeostasis. High body temperature is correlated to high energy, so low body temperature, low energy. Just a theory.


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Hormonal Responses to Resistance Exercise in Long-Term Trained and Untrained Middle-Aged Men
Cadore, Eduardo Lusa; Lhullier, Francisco Luiz Rodrigues; Brentano, Michel Arias; Silva, Eduardo Marczwski da; Ambrosini, Melissa Bueno; Spinelli, Rafael; Silva, Rodrigo Ferrari; Kruel, Luiz Fernando Martins

Hormonal responses to resistance exercise in long-term trained and untrained middle-aged men. J Strength Cond Res 22(5): 1617-1624, 2008-

This cross-sectional study compared hormonal responses to resistance exercise between trained and untrained men to investigate the adaptations of the endocrine system to long-term strength training in middle-aged men.

Twenty-one middle-aged men were recruited for this study and matched into a strength-trained group (SG) (n = 10) and an untrained group (UG) (n = 11). In the SG, the individuals had practiced strength training for hypertrophy for at least 3 years. Upper- and lower-body muscle strength was measured with a 1 repetition maximum (1RM) test.

Blood samples were collected at rest and after multiple sets of a superset strength training protocol (SSTP), with an intensity of 75% of 1RM values. With these blood samples, the levels of total testosterone (TT), free testosterone (FT), dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), cortisol, and sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) were determined.

In addition, the TT-to-cortisol ratio and TT-to-SHBG ratio were calculated.

There was no difference at rest between groups in hormonal values for TT, FT, DHEA, cortisol, the TT-to-SHBG ratio, and the TT-to-cortisol ratio.

There were increases after SSTP in the levels of TT, FT, DHEA, and cortisol and the TT-to-SHBG ratio in the UG, but only FT increased in the SG. The SG demonstrated lower values in the TT-to-SHBG ratio after the training session.

These results suggest the presence of alterations in anabolic and catabolic hormonal responses to resistance exercise in long-term trained middle-aged men, with the trained subjects demonstrating lower responsiveness in the hormone values.

Long-term trained men seem to require a higher volume of training, at least similar to their daily workout, to stimulate greater hormone responses.”

Link

Originally Posted by Para-Goomba
If you weren’t gaining weight, you weren’t eating enough to do so. Also, very few guys are going to be able to recover sufficiently from 3-hour (!!!) heavy weight workouts without the use of anabolics. That’s a lot more stimulus than is needed to induce growth. Did you feel pooped all the time?

It’s a long time ago, and I’m questioning my memory about all this now. I remember I would ride 6 miles to the gym on my bike (through city traffic), work out from about 7pm to about 10pm, then ride 6 miles home. Then I’d eat and go to bed. I don’t think I was super tired, but there were days it was hard to drag myself there (I was also working full time).

Originally Posted by PG
If you simply added squats to your weekly exercise, but did not change your eating habits, then you would, by physical law, gain no weight, and in fact would lose trivial amounts of weight (based on the handful of calories burned during squats, and a bit of post-workout metabolic boost). My guess it that the hard work of squats massively boosted your appetite, and your increased eating led to your gains all over. I find heavy leg work indispensable for keeping my appetite up. One of the greatest advantages of the within-subject design for the study was to control for the overall calorie consumption differences that may occur in a between-subject design.

I think I certainly ate more after starting squats. I started eating 2 lunches (2 large subs). For dinner, I would have lots of meat and a pasta dish.

Originally Posted by PG
I think one of the greatest values of squats (and, to some degree, deadlifts), beyond their use as a stimulus to leg growth, is that they are incredibly physically and mentally taxing lifts, so they can make less exhausting lifts seem easier, by contrast, and in that way increase a person’s overall willingness to exert themselves in the weight room.

They’re also scary. With all the talk about testosterone, let’s not forget cortisol, the “fight or flight” hormone. When I say that squats made me “hyped up,” it’s possible I was high on adrenaline.

Originally Posted by PG
Do you do any direct rotator cuff work? Some guys find they can break through benching barriers when they strengthen the small rotator cuff muscles.

Yes. I did just about everything. I could bench over 400, even when I weighed 170. I couldn’t bench a pound more at 225. I think my pecs were just tapped out. Eventually, I lost interest in improving it and wanted a more balanced body.

Originally Posted by PG
I believe that the factors influencing muscle growth are local, outside something like injecting anabolics to achieve sustained supraphysiological hormone levels, so I’d see no reason to think that squatting would increase the size of your pecs and triceps, which are not much involved in the movement. The existence of meatheads at the gym with huge upper bodies and tiny chicken legs, and speed skaters and other athletes with built legs and scrawny upper bodies, is highly suggestive of the locality of muscle growth, in my opinion.

I agree, especially if they don’t work out their legs/upper bodies at all. Even guys who take steroids don’t grow without exercise.

Originally Posted by PG
Ah, the appetite thing ;) Sleeping more couldn’t have hurt your gains, either. And yes, if you found your energy for lifting increased after squatting, then that must have helped, too, although I don’t know many guys who share that experience. Many report wanting to vomit after squatting heavy (connecting to the “teaching you to work hard in the gym” point I mentioned above).


It’s the adrenaline thing, I think.

Originally Posted by PG
Squats certainly involve more muscles than leg presses, and are less pleasant and more exhausting because of all the balancing muscles required, but as far as the study goes, the key, to me, is that the leg workout they had subjects do in the HH condition did increase T and other hormones a hell of a lot (temporarily). If this boost had absolutely no benefit, it would be hard to understand why a slightly larger boost (if it is larger — I know of no evidence one way or the other) from squatting or deadlifting would make a difference.

But they did their arms without the benefit of the T. The experimental subjects finished their biceps workouts before the leg resistance and T boost. My point is that people might work out better, or more efficiently, with higher T in their systems. The exercise and the hormone boost need to coincide. Or maybe not. Honestly, I don’t know.

Originally Posted by PG
So you used to do 3 full-body workouts a week? If each of those workout was for 3 hours, then yeah, you were overtraining. Have you tried 3 full-body workouts a week with less volume (e.g., 1 hour per workout)? You might find that even more effective than your current split routine. Or not. Everyone is different.

I probably was overtraining.

One of your links showed no increase in protein synthesis consequent to a T boost during resistance training. I’ve always assumed that workouts tore the body down, while eating and sleeping built it back up. I never expected to gain mass during a workout. That was merely the stimulus, as you say. The growth happened later. So I can’t say I’m surprised by that study.

So, if T falls after a workout, during the recovery period, and growth doesn’t occur while T is high, during the workout, is it true then that the T boost has no benefit whatsoever?

I suggest that perhaps the T boost makes guys braver, more tolerant of pain, or even helps them to experience the trauma of weight lifting as pleasurable. Maybe it makes them more competitive? More likely to show off or try harder to impress?

After doing some heavy squats, maybe a guy just feels so confident and strong that he attacks his next sets with greater intensity.


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Last edited by ModestoMan : 02-20-2010 at .

400 at 170? Apparently you don’t look much like your avatar :)


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I’m not nearly as muscular as I used to be. I work out with a Bowflex now. It’s quite low-impact and girlie. :)

I used to laugh at the guys at the gym who would say, “I want to get in shape, but I don’t want to get big.” Now I’m one of them.


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So, to round up where we’ve come so far in this thread, I propose the following with regard to squatting and T:

* The bump in T during heavy squats is short-lived and has not been shown to result directly in protein synthesis in the muscles during the time of the bump.

* The rise in T is accompanied by (or perhaps followed by) a rise in cortisol. This combination may help people to be more aggressive and to work out with greater intensity.

* There is no evidence that baseline T levels increase in the days following a heavy leg workout; in fact, they may decrease.
Squatting does not increase a person’s T in the long term, and therefore any anabolic effects commonly attributed to squats are not the result of increased T.


On the other hand, perhaps the following is also true:

* Heavy squatting dramatically increases appetite and the need for sleep.

* The additional food intake and sleep may make it easier to build muscles elsewhere in the body.

* Heavy squatting almost requires that one do split workout routines, which provide a guard against overtraining and therefore may help to increase size.

* Squatting works out lots of body parts, not just the legs, and doing them can effect increases in muscle mass not only in the legs, but also in the back, abs, hips, and shoulders.


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Maybe most of the effects that are believed to be caused by raises in T levels are actually due to raise of IGF-1 factor? Long term intense training seems to raise IGF-1] levels, right?

Serum levels of total and free IGF-I and IGFBP-3 are increased and maintained in long-term training
L. P. Koziris1, R. C. Hickson1, R. T. Chatterton Jr.2, R. T. Groseth3, J. M. Christie4, D. G. Goldflies3, and T. G. Unterman5
…..
The goals of this study were to determine whether the long-term training regimens experienced by competitive collegiate swimmers would result in altered levels of total and free serum insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) as well as IGF-binding proteins (BP) IGFBP-1 and -3.

Two male (Teams 1M and 2M) and one female (Team 2F) teams were studied at the start of training, after 2 mo of training, after 4 mo (2-4 mo had the highest volume of training), after 5 mo (near the end of tapering; only for Team 1M), and several days after training was over.

For Team 1M, total IGF-I concentrations were increased by 76% after 4 mo and were subsequently maintained at this level. Total IGF-I responses were more variable for Teams 2F and 2M. Free IGF-I levels were increased nearly twofold for all teams at 2 mo and were maintained or increased further with subsequent training. Only the levels of free IGF-I for Team 1M returned to pretraining values after training had ended.

Training had little effect on IGFBP-1 levels.

For all teams, serum IGFBP-3 was elevated by 4 mo of training (for Team 2F it was increased at 2 mo) by 30-97% and remained at these higher levels thereafter. The ratio of total IGF-I to IGFBP-3 was not increased by training in any group.

These data indicate that serum levels of total and free IGF-I and total IGFBP-3 can be increased with intense training and maintained with reduced training (tapering). The findings show that changes in free IGF-I levels are not accounted for by alterations in the total IGF-I/IGFBP-3 complex or in IGFBP-3 levels and indicate that there are other important determinants of free IGF-I.”
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Interesting study, Marinera. I wonder when the IGF-1 was sampled (post-workout, during the workout, or at rest).


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