Generation Iron Meditation

Transcendental Meditation Enhances Growth Hormone and Lowers Cortisol.

In the movie, Generation Iron, top ranked bodybuilder Hidetada Yamagishi is seen meditating after his workout.  Most bodybuilders think that meditation is something that would not benefit them, but meditation has real world bodybuilding application.  Most people say that they don’t have time for meditation or they may feel that they can’t sit down and clear their mind to meditate, but new research suggests that meditation may lead to a favorable hormone response.

Meditation is known to reduce stress levels and have favorable effects on heart rate and blood pressure.  Chronic stress causes high cortisol response to acute stressors and that such changes may contribute to disease. The effect of continuous stress on the testosterone and growth hormone levels is the reverse. Continuous stress lowers testosterone and leads to a catabolic state. Previous studies of the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique as a possible means of countering effects of stress have reported altered levels of several hormones both during the practice and longitudinally after regular practice of this technique.  To find out, the researchers carried out a study on volunteers aged between 18 and 34. Half of the group meditated for four months using TM method, the other half did relaxation exercises.


Before and after the period of meditation the researchers subjected their test subjects to a stressful mental and physical test. Before and after the test the researchers measured the test subjects’ cortisol level. In this prospective, random assignment study, changes in baseline levels and acute responses to laboratory stressors were examined for hormones-cortisol, growth hormone, and testosterone-before and after 4 months of either the TM technique or a stress education control condition.  Four months of meditation resulted in the TM group producing more growth hormone after the test compared to the group that was instructed to relax.  Additionally, the testosterone levels of the subjects that did the relaxation exercises went down during the test, whereas the testosterone level of the TM group remained the same however. In addition, the subject’s cortisol responses were lowered after Transcendental meditation.

Overall, the cortisol and testosterone results appear to support previous data suggesting that repeated practice of the TM technique reverses effects of chronic stress significant for health. Considering that bodybuilding is one of the most stressful sports that one can compete in, the practice of meditation can have real life results for bodybuilders by lowering cortisol levels and increasing GH levels after practice.


MacLean CR, Walton KG, Wenneberg SR, Levitsky DK, Mandarino JP, Waziri R, Hillis SL, Schneider RH. Effects of the Transcendental Meditation program on adaptive mechanisms: changes in hormone levels and responses to stress after 4 months of practice. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 1997 May;22(4):277-95.

Robbie Durand has been in the sports supplement and  bodybuilding industry for 15 years. He has contributed to many national magazines and web sites. He has an M.A. in exercise physiology from Southeastern University and a B.A. in Dietetics from Louisiana State University.