10 Steps For High Performance Hormone Optimization

Posted by Jason Ferruggia

There are thousands of guys out there who follow a proven workout and muscle building diet.

Look at their training and nutrition plan, and you’d think they were all jacked out of their minds.

Yet so many stay skinny and weak, with tube steak arms, hideous belly fat, and droopy man boobs.

The reason? They’re missing a critical piece of the performance puzzle. Hormone Optimization.

Hormones are the signaling molecules that let you see the results of your work. Check out the 5 most important ones. And learn how to make sure you aren’t missing out on more muscle, less fat, and better performance.

1. Testosterone

The king of all male hormones. It keeps your libido up, helps you gain muscle, and boosts your energy, confidence, and outlook on life. Its also one of the first hormones to go as you age. So all guys over 35 should take steps to keep their test levels high.

2. Growth Hormone

Like testosterone, growth hormone plays a key role in burning fat and building muscle. It also helps your muscles, joints, and tendons recover from workouts.

3. Insulin

Insulin has a variety of positive and negative effects in the body. It plays a key role in recovery and muscle growth. But, excess insulin for prolonged periods of time can lead extra body fat and poor health.

Maximizing the role of insulin means keeping it low the majority of the time, and spiking it when you want to trigger growth and repair.

4. Leptin

Leptin is one of the main regulators of body fat. When levels get too low, getting rid of your spare tire becomes a painful, slow process. If you can keep leptin high, burning fat becomes quick and painless.

Anyone looking to stay lean should follow a diet that keeps leptin levels up.

5. Cortisol

Most of you know that cortisol is the stress hormone. You also know that too much stress has negative effects on your health and performance. But, most people miss a key point.

Cortisol and testosterone share the same starting point. This means when one goes up, the other goes down.

Elevated cortisol leads to decreased testosterone levels. This creates a perfect storm for excess body fat, decreased muscle mass, zero sex drive, and constant mood issues.

10 Steps to Hormone Optimization

1. Don’t cut your calories too low.

A big calorie deficit will decrease testosterone and increase cortisol. Keep calories at 14-16 cals per lb bodyweight most of the time. Only drop down to 10-12 cals per lb bodyweight in a fat loss phase. 

And make sure you have a higher calorie day at least once per week.

2. Don’t go too low carb.

Hard training on a low carb diet is a recipe for low testosterone. Low carbs will also decrease leptin, making it harder to lose fat.

Shoot for at least 1g of carbohydrate per lb bodyweight each day. The leaner you are, the more carbs you can have.

3. Keep your workouts to 45 min or less.

When you train longer than that, cortisol  stays elevated, testosterone drops, and you hinder your recovery for the next workout.

4. Focus on big, compound exercises.

This will help increase testosterone.

(Note: Any Renegade program will take care of these last two steps).

5. Stay lean.

Fat tissue converts testosterone into estrogen. People with higher body fat also tend to have higher insulin and lower growth hormone levels. All things you want to avoid.

6. Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.

Growth hormone levels peak during sleep. And more sleep equals higher testosterone.

7. Manage stress.

We live in a world that makes it too easy to have sky high cortisol 24/7. Combat this by having relaxing hobbies like painting or playing an instrument. Also, meditate and always make time to chill out every day.

8. Don’t train to failure all the time.

When you hit failure every set of every workout, you zap your testosterone and jack up cortisol. Instead, always leave a rep or two in the tank, and follow the 85% rule. This will keep your hormones up and help ensure long term progress. 

9. Keep carbohydrates around your workouts and at night.

Insulin will have the best effects after you train and in the evening. These are the two most important times to trigger growth and repair. Carbs at night also have the added benefit of helping you sleep.

10. Get tested.

The best way to make sure your hormones are at healthy levels is to get them checked. I recommend every guy over 40 get a full sex hormone panel at least once per year. The Wellness Complete Package over at EXOS has all the markers I recommend people check.