Muscle Sport Magazine

Human Growth Hormone – Your Questions Answered

By Leigh Penman


This is part of a continuing series provided exclusively by MuscleSport Mag giving information on a variety of performance-enhancing drugs for educational purposes. While it is apparent that people are going to use these substances regardless of the health and legal risks involved, quality information is necessary and learning as much about them as possible can only assist an adult making a decision either way.


In recent years, the use of growth hormone has become increasingly popular both inside the athletic community and outside (where it is frequently referred to as a ‘quality of life’ drug). Produced in the human body by the pituitary gland, normal levels are at their highest during adolescence when it promotes tissue growth, protein synthesis and the breakdown of subcutaneous fat stores. Given these physiological functions, its ‘growing’ popularity becomes less of a mystery!

Add to this the fact that it is not liver toxic, does not produce water retention, is ‘skin friendly’ (i.e. does not cause acne), does not aromatize (convert to estrogen) and is highly anabolic with no androgenic side effects, and you have a pretty impressive therapeutic/performance enhancing package. Indeed, it has been hailed as the best drug for muscle gains and probably the only drug that can compensate for bad genetics.


On the technical side, GH is a polypeptide hormone consisting of 191 amino acids which has two main effects in the body:

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1) Indirect – once metabolized in the liver GH liberates the hormone IGF-1 (insulin like growth factor) which then proceeds to trigger growth in muscle cells.

2) Direct – GH mobilizes stored body fat for use as energy.

Delving more deeply into its effects, we discover that Growth Hormone exerts its muscle building influence due to its ability to increase cell numbers rather than just actual size. Its influence is observed in all body organs with the exception of the eyes and brain with transport of amino acids increasing along with protein synthesis.
Another thing that makes GH so attractive to users is its pronounced ability to stimulate triglyceride hydrolysis in adipose tissue, which in turn leads to significant fat loss. It is also involved in the process of increasing glucose output in the liver, inducing insulin resistance and blocking the activity of this hormone in target cells. With growth hormone use, a definite shift occurs where fats become the preferred energy source for the body thus leading to greater fat loss overall.

In addition, GH also appears to strengthen connective tissues, cartilage and tendons, reducing the risk of injury often caused by the use of increasingly heavy weights.
Of course, it would be negligent to omit the fact that, as far as drug testing is concerned, GH is a very ‘safe’ drug for an athlete to use since there is currently no reliable detection method in existence to reveal its use.


The use of Growth hormone by female athletes is still a relatively gray area in terms of documented results and effects. This may be due to the fact that women are still reluctant to step forward and admit to its use. However, it has been claimed by some Ms Olympia insiders that more than a handful of top competitors are using GH to attain a ripped muscular look without sacrificing their femininity (something that goes hand in hand with testosterone and heavy steroid use).

It is also true that GH has obtained a somewhat glamorous allure due to its use in Hollywood circles and the upper echelons of Californian society. The selling point in this case being instant fat loss, youthful skin and a general sense of physical and emotional rebirth.

Growth Hormone itself is considered to be safer than testosterone and that is why it is becoming increasingly popular with female athletes. However, it is strictly out of bounds for women with a history of hormonal dependant cancers such as breast or ovarian cancer.

Short term therapy is favored over long term use even in women with no prior cancer history and, whilst fat loss is definitely observed the results of GH use in women is often less dramatic than those observed in men – this could be due to the hormone estrogen blocking some of its effects.



The average dosage for GH currently in use is in the range of 4 to 6 i.u’s per day for elite athletes and 1 to 2i.u’s/day for more cautious individuals. Some prefer to take larger amounts spread over say three shots a week but the general consensus is that daily dosing is more effective due to the fact that GH has a very short life span in the body. Blood levels peak at around 2 – 6 hours after injection and the hormone is quickly cleared from the body. The effects of GH use are also more pronounced when used for longer periods of time (with the exception being use by women which is always recommended to be shorter due to the aforementioned health risks). However, for general fat loss a cycle of four weeks is usually enough to deliver results.

It is also important to mention that, when using Growth Hormone, your body seems to need an increased amount of thyroid hormones and insulin (since GH therapy is shown to lower levels of these hormones). Taking either Cytomel or Synthroid (T-3 and T-4) is recommended – with Cyctomel being preferred. Insulin is also recommended since it can increase receptor sensitivity to IGF-1 which adds to the anabolic effect of GH.
For even greater muscle cell anabolism the use of an androgen such as Testosterone or Trenbolone (if estrogen is a concern) is also suggested. This combination works synergistically to amplify results, but it is important to note that both thyroid and insulin are very powerful drugs and their use does increase the risk of side effects.



Growth Hormone is not entirely free of negative side effects, the most reported of those being acromegaly – a noticeable thickening of the bones. This applies in particular to the bones of the feet, hands, elbows, jaw and forehead. It can also enlarge the vital organs and has been linked to hypoglycemia and diabetes. Abuse of this substance can certainly trigger a number of serious conditions so anyone seeking to use GH must arm him or herself with as much information as possible and, if available, seek medical supervision.

Having said that, such adverse reactions are rare with very few documented cases of problems arising from athletes choosing to use Growth Hormone periodically and at moderate dosages.

To sum it up, GH is a valuable performance enhancing substance and as long as you use it with respect and monitor yourself carefully, it can contribute greatly to not only your physique but also your quality of life in general.

Leigh Penman, in addition to be a staff writer at MuscleSport Mag, has been writing for bodybuilding magazines, websites and nutritional supplement companies since 1985. Whilst residing in the UK, she earned the reputation of being one of the top female writers in bodybuilding-related media. Her credits included being a contributing editor on all the magazines in production as well as filling the shoes of Ladies Editor and Showbiz Editor on two publications (the later being on Arnold’s sanctioned magazine, ‘Bodypower’). During this time she also competed successfully on four occasions (placing in the top four in all contests).

Relocating to New York in the late 1990s she focused her writing attention to crystal healing techniques and metaphysics – however, she still maintained a five day workout schedule during this time and gained her personal training certificate.

Having also studied pharmacology in relation to sports performance, her writing began taking her in that direction until the present day which sees her embarking on a return to the magazine world, as well as extending her web-related work in the bodybuilding and fitness field.

Leigh has been working out for close to thirty years so she is clearly a writer who ‘walks her talk.’
She can be contacted personally at or you can also check her out at New York’s favorite metaphysical store

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