Muscle Recuperation & Anabolic Hormones

The raw materials for recovery


There are many factors that influence a person’s ability to recuperate from resistance exercise, including genetics, diet, supplement intake, and drug use. So, how often can you train and recuperate to make gains in muscle mass? Although Ronnie trained legs twice a week, the research suggests that your ability to recuperate is influenced by testosterone levels.


Researchers wanting to examine the anabolic factors involved in muscle recuperation took resistance-trained men and had them perform a leg routine consisting of leg presses and squats. They examined testosterone and took muscle biopsies to find out what was going on inside the muscle (i.e., IGF-1 and MGF, growth factors related to tension overload inmuscle). They were interested in the recovery process of muscle and serum hormones (testosterone and free testosterone) after intense leg exercise, and what happens in the blood and in muscle seven days after the workout.

Contrary to what most bodybuilders would think, basal testosterone and free testosterone concentrations remained unaltered after the exercise protocol. There was also no change in androgen receptor protein or mRNA expression in the thighmuscle, butmuscle IGF-1 and MGF) mRNA expressions increased compared to pre-exercise levels. 

Once again, we have another study suggesting that muscle growth factors are important during tension overload, but that the plasma levels of testosterone were not influenced. These findings also indicate that muscle IGF-I and MGF responses may be related to acute regenerative processes in muscle because of exercise, and may contribute to muscular adaptation to resistance exercise. 

The most interesting part of the study may make you think twice about working legs twice a week! The researchers measured subjective estimates of muscle damage, which included subjective perception of physical fitness, and found that recovery over a pre-exercise level of the present type of heavy-resistance exercise can take approximately six days. So it may take longer for the nervous system to bounce back from an intense workout, especially with large muscle groups; however, smaller muscle groups such as the arms may recuperate faster.

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