Hormones play an important role in almost every function of the body. Without them, even something as basic as getting energy from food (and using that energy) would be impossible.
So, it shouldn’t surprise you that men need hormones even when it comes to development and reproduction too. In other words, hormones are responsible for making men—in all senses of the word—men.
Male hormones are generally referred to as androgens. Among these androgens, testosterone is given the most attention, especially when matters like aging and bodybuilding are being discussed.
Aging and testosterone are somewhat interlinked. As the former progresses, the latter declines - and this is why men fear losing their manliness as they enter their 40s (the age range in which andropause starts setting in).
With this decline, a myriad of other symptoms tends to manifest. Men with low testosterone levels tend to experience problems with their mood, motivation, and libido.
Infertility becomes a likely concern as well, which is to be expected since sperm production depends on several androgens, not just testosterone. And yes, there’s also the increased risk of developing erectile dysfunction (impotence).
Stereotypical machismo won’t be possible if you’re also having problems building and maintaining muscle. Well, unfortunately, growth hormone (GH) levels also decline with age, and this hormone also has anabolic properties.
Add to that the loss of bone density (which translates to increased fracture risk), and you’ll definitely begin to worry about growing old. The good news is that there are effective ways of fighting the effects of andropause.
Testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) may be an option for those diagnosed with low testosterone levels. However, note that there’s still no general consensus on TRT’s safety.
While some men who seek to improve their hormone levels for the sake of regaining their manliness, there are also those who carefully keep track of their hormones to maximize the effects of their bodybuilding efforts.
As we’ve mentioned, testosterone and growth hormone (GH) are crucial for building muscle mass since they are anabolic in nature. In other words, they help you build muscle by increasing the amount of protein in the muscle tissue.
However, those truly serious about achieving a bigger and leaner physique can't focus only on these two hormones. They should also think about whether they have the right amounts of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).
GH and IGF-1 work hand in hand in ensuring that healthy cellular growth is maintained not just in the muscles, but also in almost every other part of the body. Furthermore, the two play a major role in healing and recovery.
While some hormones are kept as high as possible for superior improvements in both muscle mass and strength, there are those that should be kept low. Examples of the latter include cortisol and estrogen.
These two are catabolic, meaning they can reverse the effects of testosterone, GH, and IGF-1. They facilitate muscle breakdown and even induce fat storage throughout the body, especially in the abdominal area.