Sometimes I could swear the bodybuilding world is at least three decades ahead of the general fitness world of runners and other fanatical aerobic-doers. It’s bodybuilders who’ve known for over half a century how to slice and dice a physique into carrying such low levels of body fat that the skin’s nearly transparent. It’s bodybuilders who’ve known the benefits of training fast-twitch muscle fibers. And it’s been bodybuilders and their trainers who’ve dabbled with creative methods of helping the body release more natural “anti-aging hormone” (HGH) to burn body fat and accelerate recuperation between anaerobic workouts. Yet now, in nearly 2011, I find some of the former pavement-pounding jogging extremists are suddenly waving the banner of ‘anti-aging hormone’-releasing benefits that only come with the fast-twitch muscle fiber-recruitment of explosive and intense anaerobic exercise. Better late than never… I guess.
“Anti-Aging Hormone”: A fix on a misnomer?
In an interview of fitness author Phil Campbell, Dr. Joseph Mercola touts the benefits of the author’s ‘Peak 8 Fitness’ program. The training regimen is based on a study cited by the National Institute of Health in which 30 second sprints were tested for HGH releasing effect against the hormone’s release in a group of 6-second sprinters and a non-exercising control group (respectively).
What was the outcome of the study?
The 30-second all-out sprinting resulted in HGH (aka: “anti-aging hormone”) release that was up to 450% greater than that of the 6-second sprinters. Additionally, the 30-second sprinting group’s mean HGH levels remained elevated for 90 to 120 minutes as compared to the 6-second sprinter’s levels being less elevated for an average of 60 seconds. The sedentary group had (unsurprisingly) no increase in serum HGH at all.
So… as a bodybuilder, what did I get out of reading this?
I have to confess that the most interesting part for me was where Phil Campbell spilled his opinion that HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is a sort of misnomer for this substance as it works in the bodies of adults. Its release during youth is for the purpose of growth. We need it in adulthood for the regeneration of bodily tissue; its effect, as we get older, is as an “anti-aging hormone.” Hence, the term ‘growth hormone’ really misses the true benefit of optimizing its natural release in adults over the age of thirty. That’s a good point.
But why does HGH’s increased release through all-out 30-second sprints not seem particularly earth-shattering to me? It must be my long-time exposure to bodybuilding:
Remember ‘Cybergenics’: Anatomy of an HGH-releasing protocol?
Nearly everyone bodybuilding in the 1980s will remember Cybergenics. It was a product and company started by Scott Chinery. Apparently, Scott did his homework to discover some of the factors that naturally increase the body’s HGH release. Those factors were the cornerstone of the Cybergenics workout and supplement regimen. Here are a few of them that I recall:
- Fasting increases HGH release.
- Intense Training increases HGH release.
- Extremely Intense Training while in a Fasted State REALLY increases HGH release.
- L-Arginine was believed to help trigger HGH release.
- L-Ornithine was believed to help trigger HGH release.
Basically, the program required very intense training first thing in the morning after at least fourteen hours without food. Some black coffee was allowed for the purpose of getting through extremely low blood-sugared, grueling workouts. But that was it; not even a drop of cream or sugar was allowed in that coffee.
This workout – so intense that it required forced reps and drop sets – was accompanied by a supplement protocol that included six or seven bottles of pills. At least a couple of those bottles contained the Arginine and Ornithine – now questionable in their ability to help release ‘anti-aging hormone’ (HGH).
Did Cybergenics work? Well… such overtraining wasn’t compensated for by whatever increased “anti aging hormone” release the program might have fostered; nobody raved about its muscle building effects. However, such intense training combined with fasting did something; quite a few adherents raved about their fat loss. Seems like a steep price to have paid for such a ubiquitously-obtained benefit.
An interesting contribution of Cybergenics: Scott Chinery must have been the originator of the now ubiquitous (ad-nauseum) bodybuilding ‘before/after photo.’ 1980s Cybergenics ads put this practice on the map.
“Anti-Aging Hormone”: 50% daily while you sleep
Maybe one reason for Cybergenics having been effective for fat loss was its pre-bedtime mini-fast demand. Think about it: in order to go fourteen hours without food, one must abstain from eating for a few hours prior to sleeping. This could facilitate “anti-aging hormone” release while sleeping – a time that’s attributable to fifty percent of the hormone’s daily release anyway. High blood sugar has been found to be antagonistic to nocturnal HGH release. Low blood sugar helps promote its release and continuance. Thus, skipping the late-night carbs in favor of protein foods helps accelerate fat loss – a practice I wholeheartedly recommend in HardBody Success.
‘Anti Aging Hormone’: A few things that could enhance its release
Here’s a short list of practices that show evidence of enhancing HGH (aka: “anti-aging hormone”) release:
- Get adequate sleep: Nocturnal HGH release occurs in pulses that increase in quantity with each deepening cycle of REM sleep.
- Avoid late-night carbs: High blood glucose levels can thwart this “anti-aging hormone” release.
- Train an-aerobically… with intensity: If you still favor running over muscle building, maybe you should try Phil Campbell’s sprinting regimen as a start toward an-aerobics. Above all, high intensity helps the body release more “anti-aging hormone” (HGH).
- Train an-aerobically on low blood sugar: Of course, this runs counter to the knowledge that muscles perform best when loaded with glycogen. The obvious question is whether the HGH-releasing benefit of doing it is greater or even on par with optimally performing muscles. I’ll admit to never having tried this, but it might be worth a test-run to find out if it at least accelerates fat loss. Once it’s been tried and a benchmark’s been established for glycogen-free muscle functioning, it seems that subsequent muscle performance would become a factor of relativity.
- Avoid big swings In daily blood sugar: Big spikes and drops in blood sugar throughout the day tend to cause big spikes and drops of insulin – a hormone that’s antagonistic to “anti-aging hormone” (HGH). If you do attempt training with low glycogen levels, try not to hit your blood stream with a tidal wave of sugar following the workout; ease into bringing blood sugar up to normal in a nice steady manner between at least a couple of spaced-apart meals.
Sets of Thirty-Seconds Sprints for “Anti-Aging Hormone’ Release”
As a bodybuilder, I’m not overly-eager to test out Phil Campbell’s workout program. That’s not because I don’t think it’d be effective or that I don’t love a good challenge; it’s due to the recuperation havoc it would likely have on my legs. Since I view bigger and stronger muscles as the ultimate weapon against body fat, I view bigger thighs (muscularly) as the ultimate manifestation of that weaponry. They (along with bigger glutes) have the most potential to become big and shapely calorie-burning furnaces. The muscles only grow when they get adequate recuperation between bodybuilding workouts. Performing all-out sprints for three days a week is a prescription for more tissue tear-down – not recuperation.
However, anyone who’s used his training method is welcome to share feedback in the comment section. Does a two-hour spike in HGH really have an effect on your fitness level and life? Does it accelerate body fat loss? Is it a mini “fountain of youth?”
Above all, let us know something that bodybuilders didn’t already know and runners seem to be just-now learning: That excessive aerobics make one appear “stringy” and muscularity preserves shapely youthfulness.