Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
25 Jan

Anaerobic Exercise HGH Link

BJSM 468x60I love this stuff. A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine may help explain what I have been saying for quite some time here: that exercise stimulates the natural production of growth hormone (the very same HGH we just wrote about yesterday). But it’s the type of exercise that makes all the difference. And this further confirms something else we’ve been saying: that it’s short intense bursts that work the best.

While we have known this for years (that exercise and sleep are the best ways to produce natural HGH), there hadn’t been a good explanation of what kind of exercise was best or why certain forms of exercise had that HGH effect – and what exactly caused it. Until this paper. In this elegantly designed study, researchers used people with McArdle’s disease – people who don’t produce lactic acid – to show that when hard work is performed without lactate production, there is no EIGR (exercise-induced growth hormone repsonse). Very cool. OK, well, not for them…

As you also know by now, I was a chronic aerobiciser for 20 years, but have since reformed my ways. I was your typical skinny marathoner/triathlete with less muscle mass than I wanted – but I was always exercising like a fiend. Turns out the type of exercise I was doing was so much (that’s the chronic part) and so wrong for achieving health that I was “catabolic” much of the time (constantly breaking the muscles down instead of building them up). This of course also led to my being sick and injured a lot as well.

I now espouse weight-training and intense anaerobic bursts as a major part of my “Primal Blueprint“. These are exercise forms that we can use to naturally get stronger, leaner, fitter, healthier and even smarter. Sure some low level cardio is good for the heart once in a while, but the real results come from the anaerobic work. I am so pleased to see that this study shows that it’s the lactate (lactic acid) produced by intense anaerobic work that actually stimulates the growth hormone. The take-home message once again – if you want to get the most advantage from time spent exercising, pick those exercises that stimulate release of HGH naturally. It’ll take less time and you’ll show the results even sooner. Now, once I recover from the knee surgery I had last week, I’m heading to the beach for more sprints

Further Reading:

Tips for Sprint Training

Primal Health Intro Part I

Primal Health Intro Part II

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  1. Mark

    there are some related pieces of research – on GH and how to promote its secretion – that you might be interested in here:

    http://conditioningresearch.blogspot.com/search/label/growth%20hormone

    Cheers

    Chris

    Chris wrote on January 25th, 2008
  2. So what are the best ways to maximize lactate production? Hard sprinting? Weights?

    Does food intake of lactate (from sauerkraut, yogurt) contribute to the effect?

    Sasquatch wrote on January 25th, 2008
    • Hi, to answer your question there’s a book on this called “Body by Science” which I’m sure the author has probably read. Best book I’ve read on this.

      Key points:
      – 4 sprints at 30 seconds each (as hard as you possibly can on maximum resistance) with 1 minute break between each will do it. – I use bike.
      – Weighted exercise: the most effective are those targeting large muscles (squats, bench press), and targeting shortest twitch muscle fibres. To do that, you’d be pushing out 6-8 reps slowly without pauses, pushing in to the lactic burn intil your muscles literally can not lift and holding it there until they give way or the burning is so uncomfortable you have to stop. This progressively works your longest to shortest twitch fibers, and it is only at the end you fully exploit the short twitch. Only 1 or 2 sets required.
      – Recovery time: 5-9 days for the muscles in question. If you do not allow sufficient recovery time it disrupts the process.

      Shane wrote on November 8th, 2012
    • To further elaborate on your question: lactic build up occurs in muscle cells when glucose is shovelled in at an extremely fast pace (ie, your working so hard your exercise resembles a fight or flight life or death situation so you release your glycogen and it gets shoved in to the cells). The build up occurs because glucose is converted to an intermediary substance (pyruvate) inside the muscle cell which is then fed in to a very slow process requiring oxygen (still inside the muscle cell). The pyruvate stacks up inside the cell, and turns to lactic acid, where it can drift out of the cell in to the blood, and eventually can be converted back again (recycled) and re-used.

      I have not read about the implications of diet. “lactate dehydrogenase” is the substance which converts pyruvate to lactic acid, but I have not read anything about whether diet would increase the presence of it in cells or whether or not an increased presence of this would change anything. It seems the bottle neck is how quickly you can get pyruvate to stack up in the cell – which is the anaerobic step part of metabolising glucose.

      Shane wrote on November 8th, 2012
  3. Sasquatch,

    Yes, hard sprinting and weights are best. No evidence that lactate from foods has any benefit whatsoever.

    Mark Sisson wrote on January 26th, 2008
  4. Sasquatch, here are some specific examples of excercise that you can do to get a lactate response (you may have seen them before):

    Complete as many rounds in 20minutes of 5 kipping pull-ups, 10 push-ups, 15 squats (with no added weight). In fact, you can pick any 3 excercises and put them into this frame.

    Another good one is tabata intervals. Squat (again with no added weight) as many times as you can for 20 seconds. Then rest for 10 seconds. Repeat this cycle 8 times (a total of 4 minutes). This also works with kipping pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, good mornings, spring running, and pretty much any other excercise that you don’t need superb form to do safely – complicated moves, such as gymnastics back saltoes can get dangerous performed in this fashion.

    The good thing about both these routines is if you repeat them from time to time (ie once per month) you can measure your progress easily. Notice that both require a stop watch and both do not allow you to recover before performing the cycle again. It’s as if you are sprinting through the rounds, but not actually running. If you would like more suggestions let me know.

    VAS wrote on January 28th, 2008
  5. I meant to say sprint running, not spring running.

    VAS wrote on January 28th, 2008
  6. Thanks VAS. Do you see hypertrophy with this kind of workout?

    I’ve been doing ~100m sprints lately, but I can’t do more than 4 all-out before I feel nauseous. I’m up from 3 a couple of months ago.

    Sasquatch wrote on January 28th, 2008
  7. If you haven’t done this type of workout before, then yes, you will see increased muscle size

    VAS wrote on January 28th, 2008
  8. Since Lactate Acid production induces and HGH response, that brings up the question, the more lactic acid you produce the better? Is the HGH release the same whether you produce a little or a lot of lactic acid? There has got to be a level of diminishing returns, where you can’t recover fast enough from all the lactic acid biuld up to make any extra HGH worth it? Anyone have any ideas or sources on this? Thanks.

    Steve ERICSON wrote on May 25th, 2008
  9. Doesn’t the conversion from pyruvate to lactate occur in the glycolytic pathway, aka the type of exercise that requires carbs. However if there is not a dose response relationship and there is a certain baseline or threshold level achievable within primarily Beta-oxidative or PCr pathways then you’re in luck.

    Jack wrote on July 6th, 2009
  10. I find it interesting how intuitive this is. Very much a “listen to your body” type deal, at least in my experience.

    For example: I feel great after a short workout, and it’s intuitive to me to want to rest between sets of exercises rather than just doing it all at once. The only case this isn’t true in is dancing to music, which I like doing by myself in the basement XD

    Anyway, if I push it too far and try even a little too hard, I end up feeling burnt out. Even a little exhaustion bothers me — I want to feel energized after I exercise, not like I was just hit by a bus.

    It seems as intuitive as eating in a healthful way — i.e., not overeating, stopping when you’re satisfied instead of full. Every time I stuff myself I feel like absolute garbage, just like every time I ‘binge’ on hard, intense exercises I feel like garbage. And the ‘chronic cardio’ thing definitely leaves me feeling drained too, and it always made me feel so awful, I intuitively just stopped doing it.

    If my body’s telling me it’s full, I should stop eating. If my body’s telling me it’s had enough exercise, I should stop exercising. I definitely think the short, intense bursts of exercise with rest in-between are ideal for building heart and lung capacity, as well as overall muscular health, but everyone is going to have a different limit. “Intense” for me may be “low-level” or “moderate” for someone else. It’s easy to ‘go by numbers instead of intuition,’ like, ‘I need this many calories,’ and forcing yourself to eat x amount of food, instead of eating the amount you feel comfortable eating and letting go of the neurotic side telling you that you really need to eat more.

    It reminds me of a part in an MST3K episode that made the joke, “Your fork is a shovel which must continue moving despite all your body’s natural instincts!”

    I do enough exercises like this to make me feel good and energized, with modest gains in muscle, but much more importantly to me, gains in mental clarity and overall feelings of satisfaction and quality of life.

    Plus, being interested in this stuff gives me a lot to do every day in terms of reading and thinking, so there’s another benefit :)

    Thanks for the post.

    Matt wrote on October 2nd, 2010
  11. I’ve read pro athletes use the Dr Max Powers brand, so I decided to try their brand of HGH spray and gave it try. So far I’m sold. I mostly do a lot of running on the gym treadmill and a little weight lifting afterwards. I use to get frequent “pulls” on my hip and calves and would take a month off before running again. I usually do about 35-40 miles a week. Now, I don’t know if this is just in my head or if it’s the product, but my muscle recovery from my runs seems to be faster and I no longer have hurt hips and calves.

    The taste is horrible but endurable. My recovery is faster.

    Graff wrote on September 13th, 2011
  12. HGH is responsible for fat loss, building muscle mass, increased energy levels, a sharper memory, a boosted immune system, and more.

    Since the natural production of HGH slows down with age, many men will reach for those supplements that claim the ability to help enhance HGH production. Not all of these releasers are all that reliable. Some are good and some are not so good.

    Erin wrote on November 29th, 2013
  13. These are exercise forms that we can use to naturally get stronger, leaner, fitter, healthier and even smarter.

    Rita wrote on May 15th, 2014

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