Myostatin is a negative regulator of muscle mass and its effects seem to be exacerbated by glucocorticoids.1-3 What that means in English is that myostatin keeps you from getting huuuuge and stress hormones like cortisol (a glucocorticoid) make it worse. So stop stressin’, OK?
But how does it respond to resistance or weight training? Dr. Darryn Willoughby, professor of exercise physiology, nutritional biochemistry, and clinical anatomy at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Texas and perhaps the nation’s leading expert in this area (he knows science and he knows how to get huuuuge) looked at 12 weeks of resistance training on the mRNA (messenger RNA) and protein expression of myostatin, myofibrillar protein (as well as other genes) and muscle strength, size and body composition. He took 22 untrained males and randomly assigned them to either a resistance-training group (three times per week; three sets of six reps at about 90 percent of their one-repetition maximum or 1RM; lower extremity exercises) or a control group. Muscle biopsies and blood samples were obtained before and after six and 12 weeks of resistance training.
What did the good doctor find? After 12 weeks of training, subjects increased total body mass, fat-free mass, strength, thigh volume and mass; however, they also increased myostatin mRNA, myostatin, cortisol and myofibrillar protein after six and 12 weeks of training. (And that’s not even the half of it). If you’re confused, join the club.
Dr. Willoughby concluded this: “Resistance training and/or increased glucocorticoid receptor expression appears to upregulate myostatin mRNA expression. Furthermore, it is possible that any plausible decreases in skeletal muscle function from the observed increase in serum myostatin were attenuated by increased serum FLRG levels and the concomitant downregulation of the activin IIb receptor. It is therefore concluded that the increased myostatin in response to cortisol and/or resistance training appears to have no effects on training-induced increases in muscle strength and mass.”1
Here’s My Translation
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