Ensure adequate rest and recovery to boost your testosterone

Ok, so intensity is key so does that mean that it’s heavy weights and multiple sets, with short recoveries and sprints everyday? Of course not – not following a balanced training programme that incorporates reduced intensity workouts and rest and is not carefully planned (periodised) is going to result in what the sports scientists call ‘over-reaching’ aka over-training. Researchers from Ohio University and Penn State University studied nine elite male weightlifters who had participated in either the U.S National Championships, the PanAmerican Games, or the Olympics and their testosterone response(2) .

The weightlifters participated in a one-week, intensive strengthtraining camp, during which they doubled their usual volume of training. A year later they returned to the camp. The training load was as before double their normal loading. During the first camp, the weightlifters’ testosterone levels actually decreased, in fact by about 230 per cent (when measured after hard workouts). A year later, the story was completely different with testosterone production increasing by 31-36 per cent.


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The researchers attributed these findings to the fact that the gap between the two camps allowed for increased training and strength gains (of about 10 per cent) and the fact that they were fitter and better able to handle and benefit from the second year’s camp. As mentioned it’s important to avoid overreaching on too many occasions when it comes to maximising testosterone production, as this can reduce the hormone’s production and increase cortisol release. It’s possible to argue that had the weight lifters’ training load been commensurate with their ability at the time of the fist camp and not been such a significant hike in regard to what they were used to the affects on testosterone would have been positive.

Factors that lower Testosterone


With age testosterone levels drop naturally so much so that an 80-year-old man will only produce 20-50% of the amount he produced in his twenties. Meanwhile a woman in her forties may have less than half of the amount she had in her twenties. Men’s plasma concentration of testosterone is about 7-8 times greater than women’s, however, men’s demands on this hormone are far greater than women’s.

Increased Weight

Increasing numbers of fat cells – as well as being un-wanted when striving for leanness – change testosterone into a form of the female sex hormone oestrogen (specifically estradiol). The result: a hormonal environment, which is right (for all the wrong reasons) for increased weight gain. Note: although this may seem a male-specific problem, the reality is that lowered testosterone levels in women also have the same effect.


Consuming too much alcohol will reduce testosterone. Men and women who drink above safe limits on a weekly basis can reduce their testosterone production by as much as 20%.

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Stress – whether it’s from ‘everyday life’ or from over-training (of which more later) can be detrimental to testosterone production. Stress produces another hormone cortisol, which is not good for our workouts. Cortisol can lead to muscle breakdown and compromised training adaptation.

Lack of sleep

Lack of sleep is often a consequence of stress, but 7-8 hours of good shut-eye are crucial – as this is when our bodies regenerate and testosterone and other androgens, such as growth hormone are primarily going about doing what they are best at – building, rebuilding and restoring our body. (Note: testosterone and other hormones, are released in bursts throughout the day as well, with exercise being one of the key stimulants).

Testosterone Boosting Nutrition Tips


Being deficient in zinc reduces testosterone production. The mineral is also important from a fitness point of view in terms of aiding muscle building proteins. Oysters contain more zinc than any other food – depending on the variety between 16- 182mg per 100g.

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Eggs improve your body’s production of HDL (high density lipoprotein) which boosts testosterone production.


Cabbages contain the phytochemical Indole-3-carbinol (IC3), which has been shown to boost testosterone.

Vitamin e

Vitamin E for example, found in seeds like chia seeds, can aid testosterone production.

Red Meat

It stands to reason that red meat will boost testosterone, it does this through, for example, its zinc content. Low fat roast beef, contains 10mg/100g of the minera

Testosterone for Health & Fitness

A quick look at the following will inform why testosterone is crucial for fitness (and health and vitality) and why we should be looking at maximising its production naturally.

Improved bone density

Lower levels of testosterone increase the risk of osteoporosis (thinning of the bones). Working out will increase our testosterone production and reduce the effects of osteoporosis. Note: of course there are a myriad of other positives going on here as a consequence of keeping in shape, as load bearing exercise, for example, will stimulate bone density too.

Increased libido

Testosterone is very much responsible for our sex drive and feelings of vitality in men and women. Boosting it through exercise and diet will give us an elevated level of desire when that of others may be on the wane.Brain and a brawn improves mental capacity

Testosterone – as well as affecting our physical performance – also affects our brains. The hormone is responsible for memory, attention, spatial awareness and other learning and understanding functions. Boosting its levels throughout life will keep up our mental faculties and can, when we get into old age help off set Alzheimer’s disease.

Combat Cancer

Lower levels of the hormone can be detrimental to cancer sufferers

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