Much pain and injury result from insufficient lean body mass (LBM). After the age of 30, we lose 10% of our lean body mass every decade. In addition, growth hormone secretion decreases as well. Slow recovery from injury or illness and the development of chronic pain, may be signs of loss of LBM and insufficient growth hormone.
Not all forms of exercise will increase growth hormone and LBM. In fact, endurance exercise, also called aerobic or cardio, may cause further loss of LBM and suppression of growth hormone. Cortisol levels may rise after 15-30 minutes of continuous endurance exercise. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone, breaking down LBM and inhibiting growth hormone release. The emerging science of exercise physiology points to intensity, not duration, as the way to increase LBM and growth hormone. Following are two types of exercise that will decrease stress hormones and increase growth hormone.
Super Slow Resistance Training
Doing one set of 4-8 reps very slowly to muscle failure once a week will build muscle faster that the conventional three times per week, three sets of 15. Doing very slow reps until you can’t do one more breaks down muscle fiber so extensively that it puts out a need for growth hormone. Five to seven days of rest are needed to rebuild the muscle stronger than it was. In addition, glycogen is depleted from the muscle fibers, and the body is motivated to replete these stores so insulin sensitivity is increased.
See: Power of Ten by Adam Zuckerman and Slow Burn by Fred Hahn, Eades and Eades.
High Intensity Intervals
Thirty seconds of all out effort, alternated with complete rest, repeated 4-8 times produces a big spike in growth hormone and a decrease in cortisol. This can be done by sprinting, using stairs or hills, a recumbent exercycle, elliptical machine, rebounder or a lap pool. The key is to go as hard as you can for 30 seconds, then rest for 90 seconds to 4 minutes, then repeat. This only needs to be done 2-3 times weekly for maximum benefit. See Peak 8 Exercise, PACE by Dr. Al Sears.
When growth hormone floods the body after these two types of workouts, it is available to every cell in the body, aiding tissue repair and new cell growth, speeding recovery from injury and increasing the LBM so important for overall health.