How To Hack Your Hormones For Lean Muscle Gains

by Oct 30, 2016Fat Loss, Healthy Lifestyle, Muscle Gain

A lot of the women who train at Storm, after they have reached their body fat goals, want to increase their muscle mass and strength.

You simply can’t separate strength training and the effects it has on our hormones. Here’s how to spot a session that will get your muscles growing and help keep you lean!


The first point here is that the highest increases in testosterone during each session come after you have used periodised (well-planned) strength training over a period greater than 9 weeks. So, plan to sustain your efforts, this is not a short-term solution. Testosterone is measured in your resting levels and the increase shown following a weight training session, both increase following a period of sustained strength training.

The highest increases in testosterone are shown when you use whole body movements, a moderate to heavy weight and a relatively high training volume. To measure the “heaviness” of a weight we would compare that weight as a percentage of the weight you could lift for one rep.

For example if you could deadlift 112kg for 1 rep this would be referred to as your 1 rep maximum or 1RM.

In this example 80% of your 1RM would be 90kg (when
rounded up)

Here are some examples of training sets that show a marked increase in testosterone:

6×10 squats @80-85% of 1RM

10×10 reps @ 70% of 1RM

3×4 exercises to failure @ 80% of 1RM with 2 minutes rest

And here are a few that showed little to no increase:

1×10 squats @80% of 1 RM

10 sets of 2-3 half squats

When you want to gain that testosterone boost to your training you need to hit the sweet spot with both the sets and reps but also using whole body exercises at quite a heavy weight.

Growth hormone

If you want to kinda supercharge your lean mass gains using training that will increase your growth hormone optimally is where it’s at!

Women have greater resting levels of GH than men and similar to the approaches mentioned above we can increase GH best by using a greater amount of muscle mass in each exercise, so the Olympic lifts, squats, deadlifts, press and squat jumps are on good options.

Growth hormone increase through training is linked with lactate concentration in the muscle and a lack of oxygen in the muscles. You’ll know when you have reached this point due to that burning sensation you feel!

Here are some approaches that have been proven to increase growth hormone:

10×10 reps @ 70%
5×15 reps @ 60%
4 x12 reps @ 12 RM
4×15 reps @ 12RM +15KG using forced reps (where a spotter helps you past the point of normal failure) this method showed greater increases than the one above just hitting your 12 RM

Strength sessions like 20 sets of 3 reps @90% failed to show much increase in growth hormone levels but when you add one high volume set at the end of the session your growth hormone levels are rescued!

Here’s an example of what an advanced session may look like:

4×6 power clean @ 80% with 2 minutes rest
6×10 back squat @ 80% with 2 minutes rest
4×15 lat pull down @ 60% with 2 minutes rest
3x to failure deadlift @ 70% of 1RM

One thing to know about the type of training that is very effective in changing your body composition is; it’s not easy!

You can find a comfortable place in aerobic endurance work and it’s possible you can remain in your comfort zone on 1-5 reps with 3 minute rest breaks.

Make no mistake, training that changes your hormone profile is hard and coming into the last 2 sets on your back squat you’ll doubt yourself, you’ll think you need to reduce the weight on the bar and if you do you might just miss the threshold you need to see big changes.

That’s why it’s important to train alongside somebody who’s experienced to know when you need to push through and when to back off.

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