Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is a naturally produced hormone in the body which is critical to growth, cell function and metabolism.
In fact HGH has an important role in almost every process in the body, and when it comes to its use by athletes and bodybuilders this is one of the newer compounds that even the most seasoned anabolic steroid users are taking notice of.
HGH is used by both men and women – with virtually the same benefits and side effect profile – to improve body composition and muscle growth, to aid in healing and recovery, to improve athletic performance and even for anti-aging effects.
Is HGH something you should be using or does it comes with too many downsides to make it worth it? Find out in my extensive in-depth guide.
Author’s Note: The following guide is based on my personal experience and does NOT promote the illegal use of steroids (PEDs).
- HGH History and Overview
- Chemical Characteristics and Properties
- Effects of HGH (HGH Benefits)
- HGH Cycles and Stacks
- HGH Dosages and Administration
- HGH Risks and Side Effects
- How to Buy HGH?
- What Alternatives Are Available?
- HGH FAQs
- My Conclusion and Recommendation
HGH History and Overview
Growth hormone is a medical treatment used for as a hormone replacement for people with natural HGH deficiency – a condition usually caused by a pituitary tumor. HGH has also been used medically to treat conditions that cause muscle wasting, including HIV/AIDS.
Claims have long been made about the potential for HGH as an anti-aging treatment, mainly because of its known ability to stimulate collagen synthesis which results in enhanced skin quality. HGH is not considered a particularly safe anti-aging treatment though due to its side effects and the increased IGF-1 output which can potentially reduce your lifespan.
Humatrope and HGH in general is a prohibited sports doping agent around the world due to its performance enhancing effects. HGH is known as one of the more difficult hormones to detect in doping tests, partially because of its short half life but also because HGH secretion naturally increases during intensive exercise so determining whether detected HGH is purely natural or as a result of HGH injections is an ongoing challenge for drug testing.
Chemical Characteristics and Properties
The form of growth hormone created synthetically for human use makes use of recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology and is often labelled as rhGH, with the generic name being Somatropin and Humatrope as the brand name.
Before the invention of rDNA technology, HGH was extracted from human cadavers and when used in growth hormone treatments, ultimately resulted in contamination which was unknown at the time. This presented patients with risks that would become apparent later in life: incidents of fatal brain disease and Hodgkin’s lymphoma became associated with HGH medical treatment many decades ago.
These days, only rHGH technology is used, and HGH is no longer extracted from human cadavers or animal sources for use in humans. The rDNA technology allows for a totally pure synthetic HGH to be developed, and one that is not at risk of contamination.
Obtaining HGH for bodybuilding use still presents risks to the buyer when it comes to the manufacturing process of individual suppliers outside of pure pharmaceutical grade HGH. It’s worth noting that even if the extremely serious impacts of past HGH production are now not a factor, all other side effects of HGH are still possible risks and these are outlined below.
HGH is suitable for use by women as much a men. It will not cause masculine traits to develop in females like steroids do so it can be thought of as an effective fat burner and muscle enhancer for females, as long as it’s used at lower doses to avoid unwanted enlargement of other tissue and bone.
Because HGH is a slow acting hormone, it needs to be used for extended periods of time – much longer than most steroids. Results will not come on fast with HGH and this is why a HGH cycle needs to be at a bare minimum 12-16 weeks. This is deemed very short though, and most users will be looking at several months of HGH to get the most out of it. This in itself presents additional risks which I will cover below.
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Effects of HGH (HGH Benefits)
HGH’s effects on the body are substantial and wide ranging. The tissues and functions that are influenced in some way by HGH include:
- Skeletal muscle
- Internal organs
- Connective tissue such as ligaments and tendons
- Metabolic activity
In practical terms this results in growth of muscle, excellent recovery and healing that extends well beyond just muscular healing, and more efficient carbohydrate and fat metabolism which can only only aid fat loss but also cause the liver to release a protein that creates cartilage cells. This enhances muscle protein synthesis and is one of the processes that contributes to the muscle gaining benefits of HGH.
The effect that HGH has on collagen has made this a compound that is not only attractive to bodybuilders and athletes, but to those interested in anti-aging. The main potential anti-aging effect of HGH is its ability to stimulate collagen synthesis which can bring back elasticity and strength to the skin while also improving bone mineral density (a common problem in people with abnormally low growth hormone production).
To obtain the true benefits of HGH, you need to avoid looking at it as an anabolic steroid (which it is not), and view its use in a completely different way. Most of the above effects of HGH will only truly be of use to the bodybuilder if you are using HGH with anabolic steroids. Human growth hormone works in perfect synergy with steroids – for example, a bulking steroid that promotes muscle gains will become significantly more powerful once the growth effects of HGH are placed alongside it.
HGH Cycles and Stacks
HGH cycles are quite different to what you might be used to with steroids. Human growth hormone is not thought of as a standalone compound (although it is very occasionally used on its own), but instead you’ll be using it to piggyback on to and enhance the effects of other compounds like steroids and for that reason the way you include HGH in a cycle is wholly dependent on your goals.
Human growth hormone has so many specific benefits that you can select one or more (such as bulking, cutting, recovery) to make the main focus of HGH’s inclusion in your cycle.
HGH is not considered a beginner’s compound, but those using it for the first time might want a more gentle introduction before fully immersing it into an advanced steroid stack.
Beginner HGH Cycle
If it’s your first time using HGH you might want to evaluate its effects without the influence of other compounds, and that means running a sole HGH cycle. Using HGH alone means a very long cycle that runs for several months – usually in the 4 to 6 month range to get best results.
It will take at least three months until you start seeing any gains in strength and muscle, but fat loss will be easier to obtain earlier in the cycle but at a much slower and steadier rate than with steroids. The higher your dose, the more prominent the fat loss will be but you’ll also need to consider side effects like joint pain.
4-6 month cycle:
- HGH 4IU to 6IU per day
Intermediate HGH Cycle
The next level of HGH use will involve stacking it with one or more steroids. HGH works in synergy with steroids, and you will find that the effects of each steroid are compounded upon by HGH and this brings about dramatic results when it comes to muscle growth in particular, but also fat loss.
This cycle involves using HGH for a 6 month period, while only adding in the anabolic steroids at the three month mark until the end of the cycle (12 weeks total use of steroids).
Trenbolone is a steroid not usually suited for beginners, so you’ll want previous steroid experience before attempting this powerful cycle. Trenbolone is considered one of the most potent steroids and it comes with some serious side effects you should be aware of.
Needless to say that this is a cycle for male users only, as Trenbolone is not a steroid recommended for females.
- HGH 4IU to 6IU daily
- Trenbolone Enanthate: 400mg weekly
- Testosterone Cypionate: 400mg weekly
Advanced HGH Cycle
The addition of Anavar and T3 to this cycle make it a fat loss powerhouse. T3 is considered an advanced compound to use, and like HGH it is also not an anabolic steroid. But is provides excellent fat burning properties, and Anavar is certainly one of the fat burning steroids available.
This cycle also promotes some muscle gains with the inclusion of Trenbolone – another steroid that is only for advanced and experienced users.
Fat burning and the building of a lean, hard and dry physique is the main goal of this hardcore cutting stack though. HGH is a small but significant inclusion and requires the cycle to run for at least 4 months – but most users will see best results by extending the cycle to 6 months.
HGH itself will be used for the entire cycle regardless of length, with the other compounds slotted in where they will have maximum effect. Testosterone is included only at a hormone replacement dose to combat suppression caused by the steroids.
If used as a pre-contest cycle, the addition of T3 for the final 8 weeks will provide the most critical and extreme fat loss required where every ounce of body fat is important, while Anavar will work to dry and harden the physique for maximum definition.
- Months 1-6: HGH 4IU to 6IU daily (your choice based on your personal response to HGH).
- Months 3-6: Trenbolone Enanthate 400mg weekly, Testosterone Cypionate 100mg weekly
- Months 5-6: Anavar 80mg daily, T3 75mcg daily.
HGH works exceptionally well with most anabolic steroids and this is how most users will implement HGH – in a steroid stack. It has the ability to multiply and greatly enhance the effects of many steroids, especially in the area of growth and this makes it an excellent addition to a bulking stack.
HGH’s healing properties also enhance recovery in any steroid stack and this is another primary reason for its inclusion. Commonly stacked steroids and other compounds with HGH include Anavar, Testosterone, Trenbolone, T3, Deca Durabolin and Winstrol.
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HGH Dosages and Administration
Medical HGH Dosage
HGH is used to treat a few different conditions, but mostly those related to lack of growth (due to a lack of normal growth hormone production) and muscle wasting (in conditions such as HIV). In these instances the dosage of HGH is normally kept lower than what we would use it for for bodybuilding purposes – but not by as much as you might expect.
This is because regardless of purpose, HGH will always be used for long periods of time so dosage will always need to be limited. In medical settings, HGH will usually be dosed anywhere from 1IU to 3IU per day. When children are given HGH for medical reasons, dose is calculated by body weight as directed by a doctor.
Bodybuilding HGH Dosage
Depending on your goals, HGH dosage for bodybuilding and other performance uses can vary. Males who mainly want HGH’s fat loss, performance enhancement, recovery, and healing benefits can easily see excellent results from as little as 2IU daily, but many will increase this to 4IU. Even this low dose will bring about noticeable enhancement to any steroid cycle you are running. Females will see very similar benefits from doses as low as 1IU to 2IU daily.
Where muscle gains are the primary goal, males will be looking at between 4IU to 6IU daily with a view to using HGH for six months to obtain maximum benefit.
Taking HGH at anything above 6IU daily is considered a very high dose. Even the most hardcore bodybuilders will usually not want to go beyond 6IU as a maximum dose, and that level significant mass gains can be expected when combining HGH with powerful bulking steroids.
The main reason for avoiding excessive doses of HGH is because it must be used for several months to get any benefit from it. This is not a fast working compound like many steroids are. To get maximum anabolic effects and muscle tissue growth, HGH should be used for six months.
This is significantly longer than any steroid, but is necessary due to the slow acting nature of both HGH and IGF-1 building up in the body. Using high doses of HGH for many months is a recipe for serious side effects, and as such low to moderate doses are the standard procedure.
There is one unique scenario where some of the most hardcore and daring bodybuilders will take seriously high doses of HGH. Using a strategy often called “blast and cruise“, a very high doses of HGH is taken for a very short time. This can be as high as 16IU – more than double the usual recommended maximum.
This will be used for as little as ten days and the purpose is either to break through a plateau, or to experience very quick gains. This is a high risk strategy, not only due to the certainty of HGH side effects that will occur at this mega dose, but also the questionable ability of HGH to have time to deliver many benefits so quickly. In most cases, fast acting anabolic steroids will be a better option.
Female HGH Dosage
Females will see benefits from HGH at lower doses than men. For women who are focused mostly on fat loss, recovery and healing then a dose of just 1-2IU daily can deliver excellent results. Females who wish to use HGH for muscle growth can increase the dose to 3-4IU daily.
In either case, HGH will need to be used for 12 weeks at the bare minimum – but for true muscle gains with HGH at its full potential, females will be looking at a cycle of at least 6 months.
It’s not unusual for females to want to use HGH purely for aesthetic reasons, in regards to the anti-aging properties of HGH. Particularly potential benefits for the skin and hair are a top priority here. In these cases a low dose if 2 IU daily is more than sufficient. Fat loss will also be more easily achievable at this dose, with side effects being well controlled for most women.
Women will often use HGH at low doses for many years with the goal of burning fat, maintaining an ideal weight, enhancing muscle tone and for the above mentioned anti-aging effects. Women must be careful when it comes to avoiding higher doses, especially when planning to use HGH over a number of years. Any potential growth of feet, hands, and other external features would be noticeable and not likely desired by most female HGH users.
Proper Administration and Timing
HGH is an injectable compound so you’ll need to take all the same safety and hygiene precautions as you do when using steroids. Unlike steroids that must be injected into a large muscle, you have a choice with HGH to either inject it subcutaneously or intramuscularly.
A subcutaneous injection is just under the skin and not only is this method generally easier and less painful, it also provides a higher amount of available HGH to the body. A subcutaneous injection will result in a slightly shorter half life than if you inject into muscle – about 3.8 hours vs 4.9 hours respectively.
In practical terms this is not vitally important because despite the short half life of HGH regardless of injection type, its effects will extend well past 24 hours after your injection. This means you don’t have to be too particular about the timing of your injection each day in relation to your workout times.
HGH Risks and Side Effects
HGH might have a reputation for being milder than most anabolic steroids, but there are still risks involved. Most of these can be mitigated through avoiding high doses, but any dosage of HGH comes with the potential for adverse effects.
Some of these will be short term and mostly manageable, while others will be serious long term health risks. The potential to suffer with longer term health complications from HGH use is mostly within your control.
When HGH is used at doses that are too high. and his happens over long periods of time, you are at high risk of adverse effects. Since HGH cycles are strongly recommended to run for between 4 and 6 months, a low to moderate dose is absolutely essential if you’re going to avoid serious health risks.
Some of the short term HGH side effects that many users will notice include injection site irritation, joint pain, swelling, water retention and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Some of the more concerning or longer term effects that using HGH can result in include insulin sensitivity, tissue and organ growth (besides just muscle tissue)
Let’s look at these side effects in more detail:
Irritation at the injection site is a common adverse effect, keeping in mind that HGH can be injected both intramuscular and subcutaneously. Redness, swelling and itchiness is a common problem. Changing around your injection site is necessary to avoid more severe irritation and to allow each spot to recover.
There can be several reasons this happens: individual sensitivity, poor quality HGH, lack of needle hygiene, and poor injecting technique being the main ones. Using alcohol swabs on your skin and the vial is essential for sterilization, even when you’re only injecting subcutaneously.
HGH is well known for causing swelling and bloating at the joints, especially the wrists and ankles. This fluid retention is one of the most common side effects. Taking a sudden high dose of HGH will often make this side effect worse, which is another reason first time HGH users in particular should begin at the lowest possible dose so you can evaluate your individual response.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is a unique side effect of HGH that we don’t see with steroids even though they cause a different type of water retention. This comes about due to the water retention mentioned above. The retention of fluid, primarily at the wrist area, causes compression of the nerve. This can lead to numbness and tingling in your hands, and in severe cases can cause pain and even loss of movement in the hand.
Male HGH users can also suffer with gynecomastia. Again this comes about for slightly different reasons than what you experience with anabolic steroids, but it still relates to the estrogen hormone. The growth of tissue that HGH so effectively promotes can also include unwanted tissue. In men this can be the breast tissue. More so, when using HGH with anabolic steroids that aromatize, the growth of male breast tissue can be magnified significantly.
Hypothyroidism is another problem that can arise when using HGH. The risk of this thyroid hormone deficiency developing is much more likely at higher doses. Users can combat this by including T3, also known as Cytomel, into the cycle. T3 is a thyroid hormone and in itself is often used in fat loss stacks due to its effects on the metabolism.
More serious health complications are not out of the question when using HGH, although studies are few and far between. Insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes are recognized as possible risks when using growth hormone at high doses for long periods of time.
This type of diabetes is often thought of as temporary, but research has found that there is no cure for type 2 diabetes; so if you develop it from misusing HGH it is only possible to move into partial or complete remission by controlling glucose levels and maintaining a healthy weight. In effect, developing type 2 diabetes from HGH use should be avoided at all costs as this condition can compromise your health for the rest of your life.
Since you will almost always be using HGH alongside at least one anabolic steroid, the side effect risk profile of your entire cycle will go far beyond just the impacts of HGH itself. Depending which steroids you are using, you may also have to deal with estrogenic and androgenic effects, and stress to the liver and cardiovascular system.
In this regard, the benefits of HGH can help combat the tendency for many steroids to raise cholesterol levels – HGH is known to be able to reduce cholesterol levels and to do so quite significantly.
HGH is not known to have a hepatotoxicity risk like anabolic steroids do.
How to Buy HGH?
HGH is not a cheap compound to buy. It is also one of the most counterfeited hormones out there and it is often difficult to find genuine HGH. This means there’s a high risk of inadvertently buying very low quality HGH (which may not even be HGH at all), despite the very high price tag.
When buying a certain amount of HGH from a supplier – for example a vial containing 10iu, you might actually only get half that amount of HGH that’s of any use due to the very poor quality formula. Not only is this a massive waste of money, but it will impact your results and you will likely be disappointed.
A common strategy for questionable sellers is to pass off HCG (Human chorionic gonadotropin) as a HGH. So it goes without saying that if you want to buy HGH it’s critical you only buy from a supplier with a proven reputation.
It’s possible to find black market pharmaceutical grade HGH but it is not common and these will be very expensive if they’re genuine. Considering the standard cycle length of HGH is up to six months, you could be looking into the thousands of dollars being required to purchase this hormone for one cycle. Despite the costs, serious users will only use HGH if they can find pharmaceutical grade, otherwise results can be expected to be subpar.
What Alternatives Are Available?
HGH is no doubt a very powerful and effective hormone to include in a steroid cycle. With its benefits going well beyond just muscle building or fat loss, HGH is something that all males and females alike can benefit from. Its effects on healing and recovery are often a sole reason people want to use HGH.
So how can you get these wide ranging effects from any other product, if you want to avoid the risks and and side effects of HGH?
The best alternative I have found to date is HGH-X2 Somatropin.
This formula is all natural, safe and totally legal. It acts as a HGH releaser. Rather than injecting synthetic HGH, HGH-X2 works with your body’s own natural HGH release mechanism in the pituitary gland.
HGH-X2 stimulates the gland to release more growth hormone into your bloodstream through the use of amino acids that are known to directly stimulate the pituitary gland. The benefits are very similar to what you would see with HGH injections: muscle gains, fat loss, improved recovery times, and improved muscle to fat ratio.
HGH-X2 does not require any injections at all. It is an oral product that is taken once daily. And unlike HGH, HGH-X2 does not require you to use it for 4 or 6 months to see results. In fact it’s recommended that HGH-X2 is used for two months – and you can expect significant results during that time.
HGH-X2 doesn’t require the use of anabolic steroids to enhance its effects, in the way that HGH does. It’s well known that using HGH on its own is quite a weak strategy, thus the stacking of anabolic steroids is almost universal. With HGH-X2 you can either use it alone and still experience superb results, or if you want to go further simply stack it with legal and safe steroid alternatives that will allow you to shape your cycle to focus more on gaining muscle or burning fat – or both.
HGH-X2’s full ingredient list is provided so you know exactly what you’re getting and how much. There’s no rolling the dice with questionable manufacturing, under-dosing or contamination. With HGH-X2, you get an exact formula, every time.
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Is HGH a steroid?
HGH is a hormone but it is not a steroid hormone. HGH is produced by the pituitary gland and influences bone and muscle growth among other functions. Although it can promote muscle growth, it does so in different ways to anabolic steroids.
Does HGH start working immediately?
HGH requires patience to see results because it takes many months until you see its full benefits. HGH cycles are recommended to be at least three months in duration, and often up to six months for maximum benefit.
How much HGH do I need to build muscle?
Your HGH dosage will mostly depend of you are using steroids with it and what goals you have. Males will need to take up to 8IU daily to see maximum muscle growth with HGH when using it with steroids. This requires using HGH for several months to take advantage of its full potential.
Does HGH burn belly fat?
HGH is not considered a fat burner, but its anabolic and metabolic properties can help promote some fat loss as long as you aren’t consuming excess calories. For true belly fat burning benefits with HGH it can be stacked with a cutting steroid like Anavar.
How much muscle can you gain with HGH?
Your muscle gains using HGH will heavily depend on which (if any) anabolic steroids you stack it with, as this is the most common strategy. HGH will compound upon the anabolic and muscle building effects of steroids. Using a powerful bulking steroid with HGH could see you gaining 10-20lbs of muscle in a standard cycle.
What are the risks of taking HGH?
HGH comes with many potential side effects like carpal tunnel syndrome, joint pain, arm and leg swelling, gynecomastia in men and at higher doses, development of type 2 diabetes due to HGH’s effects on insulin sensitivity and blood sugar.
Is HGH legal?
HGH is not legal to use for performance or bodybuilding purposes, or for any use outside prescribed medical settings. All off-label prescribing of HGH is illegal in the United States and most other countries.
Can women use HGH?
Yes, one of the big benefits of HGH is that women can use it without the virilization that comes with using anabolic steroids. Women and men will get similar benefits from HGH but females will usually take a lower dose and will focus on improving muscle tone, fat loss, and HGH’s anti-aging effects that can improve the appearance of skin and hair.
What can you stack HGH with?
HGH is almost always used in a stack because that’s where it is most useful. Steroid users will often stack HGH with Anavar for cutting and fat loss stacks. For muscle building and strength stacks, Testosterone will be included, as will more potent steroids like Trenbolone. HGH has the ability to significantly enhance the effects of anabolic steroids due to its ability to promote tissue growth.
My Conclusion and Recommendation
Using HGH for bodybuilding and athletic purposes comes with clear benefits for both men and women. We already know exactly what HGH does in the human body, and using it at higher doses to achieve goals ranging from muscle gains, fat loss, recovery enhancement and even anti-aging effects provides a powerful addition to anabolic steroid users in particular.
But just like steroids, HGH is far from risk free. This is a hormone that our body naturally produces, but that was never intended to be taken at doses any higher than our body needs and regulates itself. This can stress the body’s processes, including the organs which can potentially grow to abnormal levels. The risk of type 2 diabetes developing should give pause to anyone thinking of using HGH at anything above minimal dose – but even then we can’t escape the risks involved.
The main cons of HGH revolve around the fact that to truly get the most from it, you need to be using it for months on end. Up to 6 months of HGH use is often needed – well beyond the duration of an anabolic steroid cycle. This long term use, especially at the higher end of the dose range for muscle growth goals, puts you at heightened risk of negative side effects and serious health risks such as type 2 diabetes and potentially some cancers.
Additionally to get the best benefits from HGH you will need to use it with anabolic steroids. This introduces a whole other level of risks and adverse effects, but this is really the only way to use HGH to maximum effect. There is little benefit to using HGH on its own because of the very slow results. This means you need to be already confident with using steroids and willing to add yet another hormone to the mix.
Last but not least, HGH is a very expensive hormone to use and one that is difficult to purchase due to the number of fake HGH products out there. This means you are forking out a lot of money, but still not know what you’re really getting and what you’re putting into your body.