Human growth hormone (HGH) has been receiving a lot of media attention in recent times. You might have heard about the undetectable drug athletics are using to out perform their competition. You might of heard about the new anti-ageing wonder drug which rolls back the years.
So what is HGH?
HGH is released by the pituitary gland found in the human brain. HGH has a global affect on the body by promoting cell division. In adults, HGH promotes protein synthesis (muscle building); decreases carbohydrate metabolism and increases lipid metabolism (fat burning). Factors such as anxiety, stress and physical activity promote the release of HGH. Studies have found with an increase in exercise intensity there is a sharp increase in HGH production and secretion.
Anti-ageing clinics promote the use of HGH as an “elixir of life” preventing and reversing ageing. Caution must be used when using these services. A large number of web based clinics site an article by Rudman et al found in the New England journal of medicine as the basis to support their treatments. However the study in the article had many weaknesses including no control group. An editorial accompanying the article by Mary Lee Vance, M.D. concluded the study was only a start and further research was needed. Some clinics sell oral or inhaled HGH treatments. The use of oral or inhaled HGH products is a waste of money since HGH is a peptide and is broken down by stomach acid. HGH treatment is very costly. One web based clinic selling injectable HGH prices ranged from £300 to £1000 for one-month supply.
Resistance exercise, in my opinion, is the best option for increasing the release of HGH and its anti-ageing effects on the individual, in particular high intensity resistance training (weight training). There are a number of studies supporting this concept. Not only will resistance training increase lean muscle mass and bone density it will also indirectly help decrease body fat, factors all involved in the ageing process. Cost is a major positive, even with gym membership fees and the service of a personal trainer the cost is just a fraction of what you could spend at an anti-ageing clinic.
An effective programme should contain compound exercises (such as squats and bench press) whereby the most muscle fibers can be recruited at one time. High intensity training can be best achieved when a state of total fatigue is reached. Rest periods between sets should be kept down to 60 sec to help maintain a high level of intensity.