Best Way To Build Muscle:
Harness Your Hormones!

The best way to build muscle is to optimize the entire process of muscle growth. Make perfect every single part, from your workout to what you eat to what your hormones are doing.

Weight training is one of the best methods of strength training! If you want to start weight training safely and effectively, with the best info, diet, and routines, check out the 5 Day Beginner Weight Training Course!

But if you have all the internal body processes for building muscle down, and then make your workout the best it can be, you'll build a ton of muscle. And fast! It's as simple as that. So, let's start some muscle growing...

Your Workout

Make your workout the best it can be for growing muscle. This is relatively simple, but at the same time it takes work on your part. Serious work.

8 - 12 Reps Per Set

Use a relatively high rep count to build muscle. This means that you'll fatigue out your slow twitch muscle fibers first, and be forced to recruit your fast twitch muscle fibers during your last, most difficult repetitions - the premium stuff!

Use The Legs and Back

The legs and back have big muscle groups that are extremely powerful. The gluteus in your butt, your quads in your thighs, and all of your spinal erector muscles are huge muscle groups. Use them!

I love kettlebell swings for building up my legs. You can do high reps with them, and they're easier for me to go lower with and get that full range of motion.

Barbell squats and deadlifts are next on the list, since they are big lifts that use a lot of muscle. Use them as well!


Workout to the point of exhaustion. This is more than just to 'build character', working out until you're completely spent and can't do any more means exhausting all of your muscle fibers so that every part of your muscle has gotten the workout.

Food And Hormones

Food can have a significant impact on your hormones, and optimizing your hormones is the best way to build muscle. Check out these guidelines for eating correctly to build muscle, and how your muscle building foods help you.

I've laid out how to eat and what that does for your hormones in excruciating detail!

If you just want to know what to do, skip to the bottom of the page and read The Best Way to Build Muscle: In a Nutshell… With that, you'll be able to take action and start eating correctly immediately.

A. Food Timing

◆ Carbohydrates and Protein Before and After Your Workout

You should eat carbohydrates and protein before and after your workout. I cannot stress this enough.

This (1) gives you the raw building blocks of muscle (protein) to build more muscle. It also (2) gives you carbohydrates, which causes your body to secrete the hormone insulin, which helps with all kinds of tissue growth.

This sounds pretty simple, but the reasons to eat carbohydrates and protein together I've listed above are incredibly powerful. They will assist your exercise to build muscle.

B. Hormones

The internal body mechanics that promote muscle growth are primarily hormonal. Other than your workout, you want to maximize your muscle building hormone profile to get the most out of each workout.

If you workout and don't eat, and don't get your hormones to do cool stuff, that's definitely not the best way to build muscle. It's actually the best way to wear down your muscles.

1. Testosterone

Testosterone is enshrined in most people's minds as the 'male hormone'. And while this is partially true, women do have testosterone in their bodies, just as men have some estrogen.

We're interested in testosterone because it is one of the major hormones responsible for muscle growth. Which is why synthetic testosterone steroids are used in sports - and also why they're banned.

We can naturally increase our testosterone, which makes it the best way to build muscle without steroids. The first key is that testosterone peaks about 45 to 60 minutes into your workout, right after you stop lifting.

This is when your body is primed for growth, and you can take advantage of that testosterone spike by eating immediately after you workout (so your body gets the fuel to make the most use of the testosterone).1

Saturated fat (such as butter, egg yolks, animal fat, and coconut flesh) also has a lot of cholesterol, which is a testosterone precursor. This means that in order to make testosterone, your body uses cholesterol as a vital ingredient.2

So… Eat after you lift in your muscle fitness diet, and make sure that you eat saturated fat regularly. Such as delicious steak and other tasty dead animals.

2. Insulin

Insulin is a very, very interesting hormone. Your body primarily secretes it in response to dietary carbohydrates, and insulin is a very potent hormone that triggers tissue growth in the body.

If you eat something sugary right after your workout (when your muscles are damaged) you can help your muscles grow with the insulin that gets released. When carbs are paired with protein (the building blocks of muscle), you give your muscles the building blocks they need to get bigger, along with an extra hormonal boost to grow even more.

3. Growth Hormone (GH)

Growth hormone is secreted after a workout, and while you sleep. And your body naturally secretes it when you're growing, and especially in your teens (since you're doing a lot of growing then).

Growth hormone decreases on a high carbohydrate diet.3 So be sure to eat some carbs before and after your workout (see insulin, above), but also get some fat and protein in your diet to balance that out. Don't fill up on just sugary carbs.

And get your sleep! Sleep = growth hormone = bigger muscles.

4. Insulin Like Growth Factor (IGF)

Insulin like growth factors are one group of the many other hormones that cause growth in your body, in muscles and everything else. And you can get some extra in a surpassingly simple manner.

Insulin like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), one of the most common IGFs, is commonly found in milk. So drink milk after a workout to get that extra boost.4

I like drinking raw milk when I can get it, since it hasn't been pasteurized - and many of the growth factors and enzymes are still intact. But it hasn't been pasteurized; so drink it at your own risk. Find a farmer or middleman you can trust. I'm a little crazy for liking raw milk, but it tastes great and I feel it helps my weight lifting.

5. Cortisol

Cortisol is, basically, the stress hormone. Your body releases it when you're stressed out, physically and emotionally, and it is not the best way to build muscle. Or build any muscle!

Cortisol is catabolic, meaning that it breaks down tissue in your body and inhibits growth and protein synthesis. And protein synthesis is vitally important for building more muscle!

So try to stay relaxed and, funny as it sounds, don't stress about being stressed. Try to avoid stressors, especially chronic stressors - they're the worst.

The Best Way to Build Muscle: In a Nutshell…

  • Eat 1/3 Carbohydrates, 1/3 Fat, 1/3 Protein
  • Eat Carbohydrate and Protein Before and After Each Workout
  • Lift Until You're Fatigued
  • Start with a simple, well-designed weight training course.
  • Sleep. Eat. Rest. Recover.
  • Repeat as necessary.

Oh, and be sure to sign up for the e-zine Starting Strong to get monthly strength training, exercise, and diet tips e-mailed to you - and access to the free e-book Train Smart, Eat Smart: Exercise Nutrition Hacks!

• Click here to learn more about Workout Exercises and Routines!


• Click here to leave 'Best Way To Build Muscle: Harness Your Hormones!' & go back to the Home-page!

Best Way To Build Muscle: Harness Your Hormones!

1. King, Ian, and Lou Schuler. 2003. The Book of Muscle: The World's Most Authoritative Guide to Building Your Body. [Emmaus, Pa.]: Rodale. Pp. 38.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid. Pp. 40.
4. Ibid. Pp. 42.

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