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Overview of HGH & IGF-1: Are They the Keys to Muscle Building?

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Overview of HGH & IGF-1: Are They the Keys to Muscle Building? – Thomas DeLauer

I want to talk about some of the hormones that are responsible for tissue growth, responsible for muscle growth, but I also want to address some of the pressure that you might be feeling from the industry and sometimes even from your doctor when it comes down to human growth hormone or IGF.

Human growth hormone and IGF are two very, very similar hormones within the body, and what I mean by that is they do very similar things, but, at the same time, they’re also very, very different.

What happens is your pituitary gland creates something called human growth hormone. This human growth hormone circulates throughout the course of the body and eventually hits the liver. When it hits the liver, it triggers the release of something known as IGF, insulin-like growth factor-1.

The first misnomer that we have to address when we’re looking at human growth hormone and we’re looking at muscle growth, in general, is that human growth hormone doesn’t directly allow muscles to grow. Human growth hormone indirectly activates IGF, which, therefore, allows muscles to grow through a couple of different pathways.

You see, not only do we create insulin-like growth factor in the liver, we also create it at different localized areas throughout the body, in the skeletal muscle and in the bone. That’s exactly why, hormonally, your body starts to build muscle when you train a specific area.

When we look at things like this, it would be easy to assume that if we utilized human growth hormone, we’d be able to produce more muscle, but let’s understand how this works a little bit more. You see, human growth hormone is usually secreted through periods of growth, naturally, whenever your body biologically feels that it needs to grow. Adolescence is a perfect example. You’re going to be secreting human growth hormone in a pulsatile fashion, and you’re usually secreting it throughout the evening time or within the night time when you’re asleep, but you’re also going to secrete it when you’re consuming copious amounts of protein at one sitting, simply because of the amino acid arginine, but you’re also going to stimulate it through intense exercise.

First off, we have to understand when the body is producing it, and that helps us understand when you would actually need it. Believe it or not, it’s being discovered in a lot of studies, that unless you’re deficient in human growth hormone, you’re not going to get much benefit out of adding it into your body.

We’re going to address the human growth hormone side of things a little bit more when we look at some of the studies later in this video, but, first, let’s talk about what IGF is and how this process works. You see, most of the anabolic responses that we’re getting from human growth hormone, again, aren’t a result of human growth hormone. They’re a result of IGF. Let’s talk about IGF. You see, IGF stands again for insulin-like growth factor, and what that means is it’s very, very structurally similar to insulin.

If you’ve watched my other videos, you know that insulin is the absorptive hormone. It’s the hormone that turns your body into absorptive mode, meaning it’s easier to store carbohydrates and it’s easier to store fat and, ultimately, even easier to store a little bit of muscle, too.


1) Regulation of skeletal muscle growth by the IGF1-Akt/PKB pathway: insights from genetic models. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3143906/

2) Claims for the anabolic effects of growth hormone: a case of the Emperor’s new clothes? (2003, April 1). Retrieved from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/37/2/100#ref-16

3) Butterfield GE , et al. (n.d.). Effect of rhGH and rhIGF-I treatment on protein utilization in elderly women. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9038857

4) Growth Hormone Therapy for the Elderly: The Fountain of Youth Proves Toxic. (1993, October 13). Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/408775

5) Role of microRNAs in skeletal muscle hypertrophy. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2013.00408/full

6) Regulation of skeletal muscle growth by the IGF1-Akt/PKB pathway: insights from genetic models. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3143906/

7) Fryburg DA , et al. (n.d.). Growth hormone acutely stimulates forearm muscle protein synthesis in normal humans. – PubMed – NCBI. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2003602

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