Squats / Deadlifts and Release of Testosterone and Growth Hormone

October 7th, 2007 by Paul Johnson

In bodybuilding forums, you’ll constantly see bodybuilders tell each other to work on their legs, mainly with squats and deadlift excercises. Most beginner bodybuilders hate working legs and look for an excuse to not work them. They are told it helps release testosterone, growth hormone, and will increase overall body muscle mass. Is there studies that support all these claims?

Testosterone and GH levels after squats & deadlifts:

Resistance training in general, increases testosterone and growth hormone, during and immediately after post excercise. It has been shown in many studies, including a published study Int J Sports Med. 1991 Apr;12(2):228-35 done on both men and women during resistance excercise. Squats and deadlifts increase GH and Testosterone, more than other compound excercises during excercise.

There is however, no significant studies that show that resistance excercise, directly leads to higher hormone levels long term. In fact, for a day or 2 post-excercise, many studies show LH and testosterone decline, while cortisol increases. In other words, building yourself up to a 200 lb ripped bodybuilder doesn’t directly increase your testosterone levels, from when you were smaller. But you might though have higher testosterone levels, due to better eating, supplementation, and working out, as a result of the bodybuilding lifestyle. The increased cortisol levels and lower testosterone, is also why overtraining is such an easy state to enter. We have to allow our body to recuperate itself, before doing more weight lifting.

Long term effects from squatting and deadlifting:

The benefit for doing leg excercises, appears from research not to be from increasing long term natural levels of testosterone and GH. I believe however the large burst of testosterone and other hormones during leg excercises, are the major reasons why squats and deadlifts are very important for overall muscle building. It’s the same reason why a bench press is more effective mass builder than a chest flye workout. Why? because the compound bench press is going to release more testosterone and GH in a workout than a chest flye.

The large burst of anabolic hormones resulting from squats and deadlifts, allows most of your muscles to benefit from this release simultaneously. Squats and deadlifts work many muscles simultaneously in the body and will allow most of your body to get some stimulation from the release of the hormones during the workout. The testosterone and GH released, is very crucial for being a catalyst for your muscle growth. It won’t be released as much in the smaller compound excercises, such as bench press. Therefore doing smaller compound excercises, would not be able to makeup for the benefit of having leg workouts in your routine.

Most experienced bodybuilders know all too well, how important leg excercises are for overall mass. You’ve probably seen the guys walking in the gym who look like lightbulbs (big upper body, but chicken legs). That has made many bodybuilders question the idea that leg excercises always equals bigger upper body. One must keep in mind we don’t know if they are using steroids, which would make it a little easier to gain upper body mass without leg excercises. On the flipside, it would also be harder post cycle for a steroid user just to keep his gains. These people probably also have excellent upper body genetics and years of training experience. If they worked harder on leg excercises, they would be even bigger.

  1. Sean Cregan on October 9th, 2008

    Good information CORRECT>>>>>!!!!!

  2. ashley on November 13th, 2008

    Can you go deeper into physiology and biochemisrty as to how the test. and gh release occurs from the squat and dl and why.

  3. Sandeep on November 14th, 2008

    Yeah , I have experienced a better overall muscle gain after I started squats with heavy weights and a better body composition. Love to get others responses on my mail fitsandy at gmail dot com

  4. v-man on November 20th, 2008

    the “lightbulb” look you described is statistically more attractive to both men and nemoW (read backwards) than the adonis complex beef guys who’s heads dont match their bodies.

    male sledoM (read backwards) have that defined ,muscular v-shape ,broad shoulders and slim ,long legs.i think with bodybuilders it’s more of a psychological need to be masculine and in the end they just end up in the same position as a fat man ’cause they are just as large.

  5. admin on December 26th, 2008

    V-man that sounds like the biggest convulated mess of psychobabble I ever heard to try to explain why your too big of a baby to work legs with heavy squats and deadlifts. Get in and work your legs hard or you are not a real bodybuilder.

  6. bong on December 28th, 2008

    insulin >> test >> hgh, IF you’re natural. I’m not saying don’t do the hard stuff. I’m saying I wouldn’t get too deep into test/hgh release. When you’re natural, slin is king.

  7. Bob on August 3rd, 2009

    Yeah its True, even the so called ”hard gainer” can achieve great benifits by adding heavy back squats to there routine.BUT please dont do it without saftey squat rack. AS you are doing heavy barbell squart if any accident happens atleast you will be saved by it. And do add bench press with it.

    I recommend it, it would show results on anyone …………

    Dont think, just do it for few weeks(4or6) and check your biceps.

    CHEERS !!!

  8. TU on August 8th, 2009

    Don’t know about y’all, but legs are the hottest thing on any body. I fail to understand why anyone wouldn’t want to work ‘em out.

  9. buttman on December 6th, 2009

    yeah meng, like, totally n’ stuff. oh, and……….what’s this i hear about butt stuff n stuff??

  10. CHooCHoo on January 19th, 2010

    Well thats YOUR opinion most females al least that I HAVE been with OR SPOKE to preffer the upper body..if the guy looks good shirtless…dont get me wrong I agree do your legs also BUT dont come on here say YOU THINK legs are secxy and ask why nobody else does..CAUSE THATS YOUR OPINION.. hmm my girlfriend likes it up the bumm I wonder whats wrong with most females that they dont like it .. hmm i just dont understand… NOW do you see how that an opinion bassed answer???

  11. High Energy on February 2nd, 2010

    Hey folks I’m 37 years old and i’ve always had chicken legs, but since ive started squats and incline running my legs and over all body has had some decent gains.

  12. camrontrovillion on February 10th, 2010

    well honestly…..

    subject A: a man with a big powerful upper body sitting on sum lame duck legs. Legs have no definition at all for their puny size..

    subject B: a man with an average upper body and above average leg thickness. He looks great in a pair of tight jeans. His quads are above average in size and very toned too.

    subject B gets the woman every time

  13. Lily on March 1st, 2010

    Totally agree!

  14. rick on March 2nd, 2010

    A lot of guys don’t do squats and deadlifts not because they do not want to work out their legs, but because they are being told the exercise is dangerous to one’s knees and back.

    I am not doing any of them because i don’t know how to do them. And i am not going to follow advice from youtube and pray it is correct.

    If only I had a personal trainer..

  15. dick hurtz on March 11th, 2010

    I bet you guys check each other out in the shower, but the only muscle your lookin at is the love muscle. QUEERS.

  16. jerimiah on March 27th, 2010

    If you haven’t worked out your legs for a long time and then all of sudden do. Can the testosterone levels get so high where it can make feel SICK and sluggish?

  17. Squatter on September 10th, 2010

    v-man sounds like he has never done any leg lifting at all, and what is with the backwards spelling. Is he a wacko or what. I used to hate doing leg workouts, I avoided them for years. But once I started doing them they became very addicting, you have not experienced a pump until you do some squats and/or deadlifts, even when you are just starting off with light weights.

  18. Mark Maycock on October 29th, 2010

    My legs look very big but are weak and crap.

  19. Raamy on November 13th, 2010

    The info. is very useful for a beginner bodybuilder..i can only say SHUT UP & SQUAT…. and Never Never Never & Never Give Up…. Hit ‘em Hard!!!

  20. v-man on December 19th, 2010

    I’m a complete nob-end.

  21. N on December 31st, 2010

    Aren’t there any leg exercises besides running and squats?

  22. DD on February 8th, 2011

    Working your legs out is the biggest waste of time in the gym. Its all about upper body strength, I haven’t met a woman yet that cares what a mans legs look like, but every woman looks at the upper body.

  23. Bruce Lee on June 3rd, 2011

    I dont do squats or deakifts but my legs are not skinny, i play basketball and i am a MMA instructor so I kick very often, my legs are not big but they are in great shape. workout your legs if you have “chicken legs”. Make sure you do some type of leg exercises not neccessarily weight lifting. i weight lift upper body regularly. if you are not pro body builder then you dont have to squat or deadlift. it is true that ladies looks at your chest, arms and abs most of the time : )