Androgen Receptors: The More the Better

Why Are Those Guys Bigger Than Me?

Some guys build muscle easily. Others struggle. Here's why and what to do about it.

You lift hard, eat right, and keep up with all the latest training info. You do everything to build muscle, but it's a slow slog. Frustratingly, some of your gym buddies don't know half as much about training and nutrition… and those dudes pack on muscle easily. What's up with that?

Do they have superior muscle fiber ratios or more testosterone? Do they have a secret training program? Well, according to some recent research, their easy-gainer status may be because they have a whole lot of androgen receptors.

What Are Androgen Receptors?

Androgen receptors are the cellular "ignition switches" that, when turned on by androgens (testosterone, dihydrotestosterone, and other hormones), initiate the process that leads to the production of proteins – the physical building blocks of tissues, and in this case, muscle.

Surprisingly, the authors of this paper found that the density of these receptors was the most important determinant in putting on muscle.

The Study

Researchers examined circulating hormones, intramuscular hormones, and intramuscular hormone-related variables in experienced lifters before and after 12 weeks of resistance training.

They evaluated levels of testosterone, free testosterone, dehydroepiandrosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), free insulin-like growth factor-1, along with changes in resistance-training induced increases in muscle mass.

What They Found

Based on the results, the men were classified as either high responders or low responders. The number of androgen receptors didn't change during the training but was higher at all times in the high-responder group.

In fact, there was a linear relationship between androgen receptor content and change in lean muscle. The researchers concluded:

"These results indicate that intramuscular androgen receptor content, but neither circulating nor intramuscular hormones (or the enzymes regulating their intramuscular production) influenced skeletal muscle hypertrophy following resistance training."

What This Means to You

These findings may explain how hardgainers and champion bodybuilders can exist simultaneously on the same planet. Hardgainers, despite training exactly like their more successful counterparts, may simply be short on androgen receptors while big lifters have more.

The real advantage possessed by pro bodybuilders may be that they're genetically gifted steroid receivers. Because they have more receptors, they can grow much bigger than you could, even if you took an equally large boatload of steroids.

This doesn't mean having high anabolic hormone levels won't help you, but the hormones can only go as far as the receptor content of your muscles will allow them. After all, if there are only a limited number of "ignition switches," only so much protein transcription can occur.

What You Can Do About It

There are theoretical and proven ways to increase the density of the receptors you have, or at least the sensitivity of those receptors.

Weight training itself increases both the number and sensitivity of androgen receptors, but you're already doing that. Electrical shock does the job, too, but no one's tried that on anything but rats. Besides, it seems impractical.

Intermittent fasting works well, having been shown to almost double androgen sensitivity. Likewise, studies show that dietary whey (and possibly casein), along with supplements like forskolin and caffeine, work well, too.

You could combine these tactics like this:

1. Take two capsules of Carbolin 19 (Buy at Amazon) with your morning caffeinated coffee. This supplement contains Biotest-invented forskolin carbonate with enhanced absorption.


Studies suggest that forskolin upregulates androgen receptor expression or density in muscle, enhancing their responsiveness to androgens. Forskolin increases the levels of cAMP in cells by activating the enzyme adenylate cyclase. Elevated cAMP levels then lead to changes in gene expression, including the upregulation of androgen receptor expression.

2. Get your protein. If you're not already, have one or two servings of a whey/casein protein blend, like MD Protein (Buy at Amazon), daily. Adequate protein intake provides the necessary building blocks for the production and maintenance of androgen receptors.



  1. Morton RW et al. Muscle Androgen Receptor Content but Not Systemic Hormones is Associated with Resistance Training-Induced Skeletal Muscle Hypertrophy in Healthy, Young Men. Front Physiol. 2018 Oct 9;9:1373. PubMed: 30356739.

Not joking, I misread the title and thought @Andrewgen_Receptors had started a new log. The more the better.


Tbh bro, i misread that term all the time too.

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Greetings Andrew!

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Which protocol I wonder