Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a popular drug among the elite of the bodybuilding world and is even used by some athletes (despite the fact it’s a banned substance).
Something used at those levels must be super potent, right?
Today we’re going to discuss what HGH is, what it does, why it’s not all you think it is, and how you would take HGH if you were so inclined.
We’ll cover the role, effects, and gritty details of this mysterious but misunderstood drug – covering all the basics.
What is HGH?
Human Growth Hormone – or somatotropin – is one of the main growth-signaling hormones in the body (along with IGF-1, Insulin, and testosterone).
It is a potent tissue growth trigger during youth and has the distinctive benefits of improving non-muscular tissue remodeling significantly among anabolic compounds.
It’s also easily the market’s most expensive “non-designer” anabolic.
The result has been a shortage of poor information and improper use.
What’s dangerous about improper use of HGH is that it carries a significantly larger risk than many anabolics in terms of mortality, acute side effects, and chronic health implications.
Human Growth Hormone: What Is the Reputation?
HGH has been billed as a super anabolic by people with little experience around it – but who are completely bought into the mystery that comes with this kind of hard-to-get compound.
In many ways, it resembles the hype around compounds like Halotestin.
HGH is just hard to get and used by the elite in bodybuilding – a selection bias that probably comes from the enormous cost, only really viable for the elite.
The secretive use of this compound by such elite-level competition gives this drug its potent reputation – even if it doesn’t live up to the claims.
Let’s look at what HGH does – and why it’s not all that it seems and should be a cautionary tale.
Biological Role of HGH
HGH is a hormone mostly involved in regulating growth and becomes more important as we age – because the pineal gland produces less.
It can lead to an accelerated rate of aging and the poor performance of anabolic hormones in the body.
There’s a close relationship between HGH and IGF-1, and RGF, which are both important in bone and muscle function.
They’re also important for fat loss and regulation, filtering down into areas like nutrient partitioning – what your body does with food nutrients.
The primary role of HGH is as a regulator, and it’s this role that defines what to use it for and how we use it.
There are a few distinct areas to look at when reviewing the use of HGH:
- Building and regulating muscle mass
- Regulating fat storage and burning
- Implications for other hormones
- The way it impacts aging and tissue-change
These are equally important, but the anabolic reputation is where we’re starting – because it’s the most obvious and hype-filled claim.
How effective is HGH for building muscle?
HGH is not very effective for building muscle in healthy people.
Some high-quality studies suggest it’s not much more effective than a placebo in strength gains.
The main benefits to muscle gains are seen in immunocompromised (HIV/AIDS patients) and hormonally suppressed trainees.
Studies in powerlifters don’t demonstrate a significant difference in the performance gains that it offers, nor the muscular size you’d expect based on bodybuilding received wisdom.
In studies using a large dose (equivalent to 1iu/8.5kg bodyweight) in less than elite weight trainees – there were also very few muscle protein improvements.
There were some secondary benefits to HGH-related compounds (like IGF-1) but not for muscle gains.
This is surprising since this is quite a large dose – and most athletes would only use around half of this.
HGH doesn’t seem very effective at building muscle mass by itself, but this doesn’t speak to its effect when combined with other anabolics.
HGH may have a potentiating effect with steroids and other exogenous PEDs.
Contrastingly, HGH does have common side effects, and the health implications of combining it with other anabolics are poorly understood.
HGH for Fat Loss and Recompositioning
The real benefit of HGH is as a lipolytic (i.e., fat-burning) compound for use during the cutting phase.
HGH, in multiple studies, does not only improve fat-burning potential but makes recomposition (gaining muscle and losing fat simultaneously) much easier.
HGH use during a diet reversed the normal trend of weight loss: While non-users lost muscle and fat, the HGH group lost fat and gained muscle.
This is the holy grail of body change (especially for bodybuilders), where these are the two fundamental training goals.
The real benefits of HGH seem to be here – in the weight loss and muscle gain combination.
HGH’s main benefits are in people who are low-calorie, low-testosterone, or otherwise compromised. It’s a protective signaller that promotes muscle growth despite other energy conditions.
HGH may even be an interesting post-cycle compound, especially with HCG and aromatase-inhibitor use.
It’s not as effective at building muscle as many people with little experience like to believe.
How to take HGH Safely
HGH is rarely a safe substance due to the high risk of side effects, the inherent risks of intramuscular injections, and the possibility of interacting with other compounds.
It’s important to perform basic steps to reduce these risks and ensure any HGH use has minimal risks.
Before we start, it’s important to remember that there are oral HGH supplements on the market, but they’re not comparable to HGH injections.
These are either direct recombinant HGH (which studies show do not improve growth) and precursor herbal extracts for HGH that do not improve results in any way comparable to the “real thing.”
While we don’t advise you to take HGH, it’s even less useful to take prohormones.
Prohormones are incredibly dangerous due to their conversation in the liver. We always don’t advise you to take “fluff” supplements that don’t improve HGH concentrations!
1. Avoid if you have any contraindications
You should not take HGH if you experience any severe or notable pre-condition.
HGH use may interact with any pre-condition or the prescription medication that you’re taking for it.
Do not use HGH if you have concerns you have not raised with your doctor. The benefits of HGH are not worth the risks of serious health problems.
2. Consult a doctor
As above, consulting a medical professional is the most important part of taking HGH.
You should make sure that your doctor is aware of your decision and consult with them regarding your personal medical history, any drug usage, and more.
A doctor can monitor your health and provide effective support, but you need to discuss your use of HGH.
3. Use HGH for the proper goals
Do not take HGH with the expectation of muscle growth gains – use it for anti-catabolic effects and the potential to recomposition during a ‘cut.’
These are the most effective ways to make the most of an expensive and dangerous cycle of HGH.
You may also want to use HGH in combination with your post-cycle therapy, but this is another area where you should consult your doctor.
It may be able to offset some of the losses associated with PCT but should be taken very seriously and used under strict guidance.
4. Get regular checkups
As with any exogenous hormone, it is essential to maintain regular health checks and bloodwork.
It is a simple matter of maintaining regularly scheduled checkups and phlebotomy.
Maintaining good habits around testing will prevent you from running into late-stage problems, which may be avoidable earlier on.
This also provides plenty of chances to discuss side effects, risks, and concerns with your doctor.
5. Avoid common problems with basic care
Try to avoid the most common problems – by maintaining healthy dietary and sleep hygiene habits. Eliminate recreational drug, alcohol, and smoking use during any exogenous hormones.
Ensure you’re not causing interactions with prescription medications (it could genuinely kill you).
Practice good injection site etiquette with a disinfectant, proper aspiration of your syringes, and good injection kit hygiene.
Be careful with your injection site, be willing to retreat if you experience any pain or nervous twinges, and warm the area before and after injection.
If possible, have a skilled individual with proper training inject for you.
Take HGH very seriously.
6. Use an appropriate dose
The typical dose guidance given to athletes and bodybuilders using HGH is around 0.006mg per kg of body weight to 0.0125mg per kg per day.
It is better to start lower to reduce the risks of adverse effects and other potential health implications.
Even athletic and bodybuilding use are typically taken in the range of 1-8iu per day and typically in the lower area of these ranges.
Excessive use doesn’t promise better results but invariably increases the risk of the side effects listed above.
The Risks of HGH Use
It would be irresponsible not to mention the risks of HGH use – as it’s both expensive and somewhat risky when used.
There are many common problems associated with HGH, and the poor understanding of its effects only makes it riskier – as there are suspected and proven side effects.
HGH has several potential adverse effects and side effects:
- Insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and diabetes risks
- Swelling (edema) in multiple body parts
- Joint, muscle, and nervous pains are similar to ‘growing pains’
- Cancer risk – especially in men
- Carpal tunnel syndrome and other compartment-related disorders
- Poor blood lipids – high cholesterol and dyslipidemia
- Cardiorespiratory decline or worsening conditions
- Paraesthesia, tingling, and other sensation-responses
- Common injection-site problems: abscesses, infections, localized pain, and swelling
Side effects are very common – between ¼ and 1/3 of HGH users experience some adverse response.
Human Growth Hormone FAQs
How much HGH should I take a day?
However, typical use guidelines suggest somewhere around 0.006mg/kg of bodyweight up to 0.0125mg/kg.
Stay lower in this range early to assess tolerance and ensure you’re not getting severe side effects.
You should increase the dose only after a significant amount of time without adverse effects, as measured by a checkup with your doctor and appropriate bloodwork.
How often do you take HGH?
Typical use is daily due to the relatively short half-life of HGH and the un-esterified form that is typically bought and sold.
It is possible to use growth hormone at less regular intervals, but there are few benefits, and it may produce a counter-productive cycle of high and low concentrations in the body.
Thus, consistent daily use with closer control overdoses is typically better.
Every day and every other day use is most common.
How quickly does HGH work?
HGH is a signaling hormone and is relatively fast-acting, though the main measurable scientific benefits occur in the first 1-3 months of use.
However, these are based on clinical trials for those with deficiencies in hormonal function.
Anecdotally, changes to sleep and body recomposition are reported in the first month. Results will vary by use, use pattern, and the dose relative to body weight.
How to take HGH for bodybuilding
Don’t take HGH for muscle-building; take HGH for cutting.
It is far more effective as an anti-catabolic and recomposition aid, where it helps you build muscle and burn fat simultaneously.
HGH is prized for its anabolic effect but is relatively weak in that area.
Rather, proper HGH use should be prioritized for weight loss, where you’re not wasting thousands of dollars on an often-underwhelming compound.
Interactions with other exogenous hormones may provide greater anabolic effects but are not well understood and typically introduce more severe and complex health risks.
Should I inject HGH in fat or muscles?
Fat and muscle are viable targets for HGH injection, typically down to individual preference.
The vasculature of muscle mass and the innate endocrine functions of fat have competing claims to be ‘the best choice.’
Ultimately, the research is scant, but subcutaneous fat injections seem to be the preferred clinical option.
Intramuscular injections are also popular due to the (uncertain) belief that they promote growth at the injection site (e.g., in the deltoids or quadriceps).
How to use growth hormone?
Ideally, don’t use growth hormones.
If you’re going to, it should be a cutting compound due to its potent anti-catabolic effects and the ability to promote muscle growth even during fat loss and the stressors of the low-calorie diet.
Take HGH daily – ideally under a doctor’s guidance and with regular checkups – in the lower portion of this dose range: 0.006mg/kg body weight to 0.0125mg/kg body weight.
Assess tolerance and safety with very low doses, to begin with, as a precaution for health purposes.
How much HGH to take?
For most people, HGH is effective over the long term when taken at 0.006mg/kg body weight.
Higher intakes have been used in some clinical trials and research, up to 0.0125mg/kg, but do not seem to offer linear improvements to results.
Taking more HGH doesn’t always improve results more than smaller doses, but it always increases risks. As a result, small and moderate doses should be your priority.
HGH is a compound with the mystique of being very expensive and only used by the elite.
But it is relatively weak in building muscle mass, has many side effects, and has niche benefits that most people don’t need.
The best way to take HGH is not at all and, after that, is only useful in cutting diets where it has significant benefits to recomposition potential.
The health benefits of HGH in healthy people are relatively weak – especially considering the high rates of side effects and possible interactions.
Do your due diligence if you’re considering HGH. Use the lower side of the range outlined in this article.
Tolerance and effects are slow to show, and it may well be months before you see significant results – if you can afford to run a full cycle.
Be careful, consult your doctor, and stay safe.
Replace HGH with a legal and better alternative, HGH-X2 from CrazyBulk, which comes with fewer side effects.