3 Exercises That Boost Hormones & Build Explosive Power

The following is a guest article from Rich Thaw.

There are only two ways to burn fat, build muscle and kick anabolic hormones into high gear, fast.

1) Lift heavy weights

2) Sprint

Most guys fail to lean down because of a simple flaw in their training program. They end up only doing 1 of the 2 necessary steps.

It’s easy to say ‘lift heavy’, but you can’t always lift heavy. There has to be some sort of periodization scheme so that you don’t burn out.

Sprinting on the other hand is tough to burn out from. That’s not to say it’s impossible, it is FYI, but you can always vary your distance and the rest periods between sprints to taper the intensity.

Just as with every exercise, efficiency is a paramount part of the process. Being fast is all about firstly creating efficient movement patterns, and then training your body in those very same patterns. The coolest part? – There’s a huge carryover from training to get more efficient in your sprint (aka – become faster), your level of strength/power, and how lean you are.

The Big Three

You may even go as far as to say that these exercises (along with the use of sprinting of course) are your ticket to becoming leaner, stronger, and increasing the levels of anabolic hormones: Growth Hormone, Testosterone and IGF-1 (Insulin Like Growth Factor) circulating through your body. These 3 hormones play a regulatory role in muscle development, nerve cell function, immune system response and recovery.

1) Heavy Crawling Patterns

Crawling is one of the primitive movement patterns everyone has done back when they were younger…or more recently, I’m not judging.

Crawling is amazing because it mimics the exact same movement pattern as sprinting, while training the core to remain completely motionless (read: anti-extension & anti-rotation). The result – On top of training sprint patterning, you’ll get a killer core workout while working on your hip and shoulder mobility.

Here’s a video demo of crawling and how it relates to sprinting pattern:

You can crawl forwards, which is an easier variation.

Or backwards, which is much more difficult.

And for those of you who’ve mastered the bodyweight versions, you can load it with chains (the best option).

Or with a Kettlebell

Muscles worked: Core (Anti-rotation, Anti-Extension), shoulders, glutes, quads, hamstrings

2) 1 Leg Barbell SLDL (Straight Leg Deadlift)

“You need a big ass to haul ass”

A self-explanatory saying that every lifter and sprinter should live by. If you want to run fast and have a strong lower body, it helps (read: is fundamentally necessary) to have a big, strong ass.

The 1 leg Barbell SLDL is on this list firstly because we all know how amazingly beneficial deadlifts are for developing strength, size, and power from head to toe, and secondly because sprinting is a 1-legged exercise.

When standing on 1 leg, the muscles that are attached to the hip from below and above the pelvis are working overtime to keep you level. Knowing that any muscles that attach to the hip is considered part of the core, you’re training your core in a contralateral pattern (read: opposite side/diagonal). All of this is happening before you start deadlifting.

Deadlifting has a slew of benefits of it’s own, but by training hip extension on a single leg as you would in sprinting, you’re promoting proper muscle recruitment and ultimately a faster more efficient stride.

Here’s a demo of a 1 leg barbell SLDL

Some variations and progressions to the 1 leg barbell SLDL, starting with the most basic.

Don’t do the “bird feeder”

What you normally see in this exercise is something I like to call the birdfeeder. While standing on one leg, bending over at the hip and standing up tall again is essentially the exercise, it’s far from ideal technique and more often than not result in injury/pain than muscle development.

How to do it:

  1. Stand on your right with your knee bent slightly. Your weight is distributed evenly from your toes to your heel.
  2. Pack the shoulders (as demonstrated in the video) and sit the hips backwards in the same pattern as you would when commencing a deadlift. Your weight should now be on the back ¾ of your right foot thereby forcing you to ‘sit into the butt’.
  3. Keeping the stomach tight, hinge (read: bend over) at the hips *knees remain bent at ~15-20°* and keep the hips level. Stop once your torso and hips are parallel to the floor.
  4. As you hinge, your left leg should remain straight and the same heel should be driving backwards. This further reinforces the ‘sit into the butt’ or proper hinging pattern.
  5. Once you reach mid-shin height on the descent of the exercise, pull the hips through and straighten the leg to stand up tall. Think of squeezing the butt, quads and abs as the final position.
  6. Rinse and repeat on both sides.

Muscles worked: Core (Anti-rotation, Anti-Extension), Lats, Glutes, Hamstrings 

3) Seated Straight Leg Arm Swing

Arm swing is a huge part of sprinting.

This drill further reinforces a powerful arm drive thereby shaving seconds off of your sprint time.

A cue I teach to athletes is to think “eye socket, hip pocket”. That is, if your right foot is starting in front your left hand will be next to the ‘eye socket’ and the right hand will be next to the ‘hip pocket’.

How to perform the drill:

1) Sit on the floor, legs straight and torso upright.
2) Position your right hand in the ‘eye socket’ position and the left in the ‘hip pocket’ position.
3) Switch sides quickly so that the right hand is next to the ‘hip pocket’, same idea with the left hand.
4) Repeat at ~70% for 5-10 swings each arm and build up to 100%. At 100% your butt should rise off of the ground slightly, as if you’re bouncing. – Pump your arms for 2-3 vigorous sets of 10-15 second buildups.

Muscles worked: Core (Anti-rotation, Anti-Extension), Shoulders, Lats, and Triceps.

*Note: This drill is mostly used for patterning of arm swing, while it does train the core, its main purpose is not muscular development.

Wrap Up

As you become increasingly comfortable with the first two exercises you can load the heck out of ‘em to kick the hormones Testosterone, Growth Hormone and IGF-1 into full production mode.

Lifting is less than half the battle, to go full circle and really see results you’re going to have to eat like a man!

Find out how to optimize Testosterone, Growth Hormone, and IGF-1 production all through diet. Check out The Man Diet’ Here

Rich Thaw, CPT, FMS-1, Pn1

When he is not working as a Strength & Conditioning coach at CoreXcellence, Rich does extensive work with online training and nutrition consultations through his website titled ‘InnerAthlete’.

Using his extensive knowledge and experience in athletic development, Rich has developed a training system which progressively challenges his clients. To ensure proper postural alignment and injury prevention, methods learned from the Functional Movement Screening System, Postural Restoration Institute and Myofascial Techniques have become an integral part of his programming.

When Rich isn’t working you can find him playing hockey, watching the latest Marvel Comics movie, drinking Reeces Peanut Butter Cup inspired smoothies and dreaming about front squats, kettlebells and chin-ups.

He firmly believes that “Everyone should have access to professional grade training, nutrition, & rehab strategies. And that anyone can go from an average Joe (or Jill) to looking, feeling and moving like a Pro.”

His website can be found at www.InnerAthleteHQ.com.
Find him on facebook or twitter by using the hashtag: #Joe2Pro