T Nation

Hormonal Responses to Leg Training


Ok, so we've all heard the old sayings 'squats and deadlifts release the hormones that will make your entire body grow'

And we all know it to be true, right...?

Well I do consider it to be true. The staggering amount of intelligent, big people who attest to it is enough to convince me of it(I've also put on over 22lbs of from what I can see, nearly all muscle in 7 weeks, thanks largely to squats).

My question is, what are the hormones that are released...?
Why are they released?
And can anybody point me towrds some studies that support the notion...?




I am no expert but i know that squats help release HGH that is naturally produced by the body. Other than that i am not familiar with any more technical terms


So you mean to tell us that all you did these past seven weeks was squat, and it magically made you gain 22lbs of sheer muscle (no mention of food)?

The only studies there have been demonstrate that a relatively insignificant amount of hormones are released during, and shortly after squatting, but it dissipates back to normal levels thereafter.


I thought this went for lifting in general? From what I've read test, hgh, and epinephrine are released in small amounts while lifting but aren't thought to have any effect on exercise outcome. But I've also read in a few places including TN that squats boost test for up to a week. Anyone know anything about this? Isn't intense exercise on a regular basis something known to decrease test production?


Human growth hormone (HGH), testosterone, and insulin growth factor (IGF-I) are released. The reasoning behind it is when there is a external load on the spine the body reacts by releasing hormones to aid in lifting and recovery. Due to the spine is the "highway" for vital nerves. As well squats and deadlifts are very taxing on the body due to being a multiply joint exercise.


I sure as hell hope not.


Yeah, I read a study done on college football players and ZMA that claimed during the season T levels dropped an average of 20%. ZMA supposedly brought their levels back to a little higher than before practices started. But don't worry, I'm pretty sure one has to overtrain for T levels to drop.


I knew GH and testosterone were released during exercise alright, but the IGF-1 is news to me.

Thanks for the response

Certainly not, but my post wasn't particulalry well constructed to be fair...
But seeing as I'm on Starting Strength squatting three times a week and due to the very nature of the squat, it's reasonable to assume that squats did play a big part in the weight gain.
I said mostly muscle, not sheer muscle. If I had managed to not gain any bit of bady fat at all I would look a hell of a lot better than I do now. I haven't had any BF% tests done since I started bulking, but the mirror tells me that I didn't gain an awful lot of fat(which I am quite pleased about).
And yes, I am eating clean. I've only had one cheat meal and two soft drinks since I started.


Or maybe it was FOOD.

Exercise cannot make you gain weight.

The hormone response from training is negligible, and squatting doesn't hypertrophy any of the muscles it doesn't overload.

Squats and deadlifts (more than other exercises) cause a release of testosterone and growth hormone in the body during exercise, lasting until immediately afterward, then dissipating back to normal levels (Int J Sports Med. 1991 Apr;12(2):228-35). There isn't a lasting increase in these anabolic hormones (meaning, during periods of time where protein synthesis and muscle hypertrophy are actually occurring, anabolic hormone levels will be normal), and there have been no long-term studies on the affects of regular squatting and deadlifting in bodybuilders.

Growth hormone can be temporarily increased in the body from holding your breath or hyperventilating (Int. J. Sports Med. 7:311-315. 1986 ), should bodybuilders start believing this will make a difference in their physique?

A short anabolic response to exhaustive exercise doesn't mean you're now a super muscle building machine and all your muscle groups are gonna start blowing up, and it doesn't mean it can magically make you gain bodyweight.

I wish everyone would stop reading internet articles and PT sales pitches, and start thinking critically.


Very helpful, appreciated...

I'm confused as to what you thought I hoped to gain from making this thread.
Let me clarify. I was CURIOUS.
I didn't intend to uncover from secret about hormone responsiveness that would give me a secret muscle building edge.
Nope, I was just curious because, as mentioned in the first post of the thread, I had heard numerous times that training legs properly will ''release the hormones that will make your body grow'' and I wanted to learn more.
You helped me learn more about it, and I thank you for that.
It seemed to me that the Beginners forum would have been a good place to put such a question.

As for PT sales pitches...? Sadly I've only ever seen one PT who actually does leg training with his clients and I can't say any of his advertisements have promised leg training to magically help people grow...