Peptides are short amino acid sequences that are of constant interest in the bodybuilding community. They are considered to be an important tool in improving performance of bodybuilders especially those who pursue it as a profession. Hence, the growth hormone secretagogue (GHS) group of peptides is popular among bodybuilders.

Bodybuilders are athletes who pursue body transformation as a professional career. They often strive for achieving a rapid change in their body built, composition and appearance for professional reasons. Hence many of them extensively use food supplements to enhance and hasten the results of physical exercise thereby striving for desired training and physique benchmarks.

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is secreted from the pituitary gland. The hormone is responsible for regulating muscle growth and development and promoting lean body mass formation. It helps in fat metabolism in the body. HGH stimulates production and release of insulin-like growth factor 1(IGF-1) from the liver. IGF-1 triggers protein synthesis thereby contributing to muscle building. There is simultaneous breakdown of fat also catalyzed by IGF-1. In the 1980s, HGH was popular among recreational as well as professional bodybuilders for improving their performance. However, exogenous use of HGH was not without its share of adverse side effects on the body, especially when used for long term. Thus scientists observed use of GHS to be a more suitable alternative to direct use of HGH as GHS brought about similar body transformation without the negative effects of HGH.

Findings till data have observed GHS to trigger secretion of HGH or IGF-1 in humans but it remains to be explored if it also alters metabolism and promotes muscle synthesis directly at the molecular level, regulates performance outcome of exercise and muscle recovery. Interestingly, there is no research that has highlighted the influence of GHS on well-trained bodybuilders. It is also unknown as to which muscle group peptides are most suitable and which workout regimen they preferentially influence. Hence the lack of knowledge demands more extensive studies.

Peptide types for bodybuilding

Body builders often specifically prefer growth hormone secretagogues (GHS).  Some of the GHS which re popular choice are:

Ghrelin and compounds which mimic its mode of action: Ipamorelin, lenomorelin, anamorelin, macimorelin  and tabimorelin to name a few.

Growth hormone-releasing peptides (GHRPs): Such as hexarelin, alexamorelin, GHRP-1, GHRP-2, GHRP-3, GHRP-4, GHRP-5 and GHRP-6.

Growth-hormone releasing hormones:  Some of the molecules are sermorelin, CJC-1293, tesamorelin, and CJC-1295.

All the above molecules stimulate release of HGH but their mode of action might vary from each other.

Each of the categories is promoted by manufacturers for different objectives. However, to date, there has been no formal study about the influence of GHS on bodybuilders or well-trained individuals. Hence, the dosage is empirically determined.


The safety of the continued use of GHS is unknown due to lack of proper studies in this aspect. The work done so far is of short duration only. Hence it demands a more extensive study that spans a longer period of time. Extended use of GHS can lead to enhanced appetite, increase in blood sugar level and fluid retention in the body. GHS can also lead to insulin resistance and thereby making it difficult to regulate blood sugar levels.

Use of non-sterile needles to inject GHS can lead to life-threatening infections.

Till date, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved of limited use of only certain types of GHS for treating specific medical conditions by a prescription from a medical practitioner only. In the current scenario, GHS is also included in the Worlds Anti-Doping Agency’s list of prohibited substances. Despite this, one can still purchase them from dedicated websites without a prescription. Hence, it is risky as the quality of the product and their safety remains a major concern.

The bottom line

Supplement companies often promote the peptides as factors that help boost muscle growth, enhance fat metabolism and improve workout efficiency. Unfortunately, there is not enough scientific evidence to support such commercial claims. GHS peptides are currently banned in professional sports and the safety of their long-term use is unknown. Only a few of the GHS are approved to be used for treating specific medical conditions. Hence, off-the-shelf use of these molecules are not recommended for health reasons.



Disclaimer: The products mentioned are not for human or animal consumption. All the information shared in this article is for educational purposes only.

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