Tips on how to naturally boost testosterone levels…

Mr T aka BA Baracus from the film and TV series The A Team is a real action type of guy (well, that is until it comes to getting onto planes!). Maybe the ‘T’ stood for testosterone! BA certainly seemed to be full of the hormone – he was after all well muscled and not one to back down from a confrontation.

Lets take a look at testosterone as a crucial ‘fitness’ hormone and  show you how to naturally boost testosterone production, by including the ‘right’ workouts in your training and give you some dietary tips that will boost your testosterone levels.

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Testosterone is an anabolic (growth promoting) hormone, it’s the male sex hormone, but it’s also found in women. Boosting its production will pay dividends in creating a lean, defined, muscular and sexy physique (ladies don’t give up reading now, as its benefits are yours too!).

Hormones, like testosterone are ‘chemical messengers’, they act as catalysts for cellular reactions. In males testosterone is responsible for secondary male sex characteristics such as muscle mass, bone density, strength, fat distribution, hair growth, voice deepening, libido and mental and physical energy.

Although present even before we are born in a fetus, it’s when we hit puberty that we will really notice its affects – in terms of for example, growth spurts, hair growth and acne (caused by greater skin oiliness). However, testosterone is crucial throughout the rest of our training and non-training lives. Testosterone is primarily released from the testes in men and on a more limited basis the ovaries of women.

Its release is stimulated through natural growth i.e. maturation and crucially by exercise in both men and women (of, which certain types have a greater effect than others – of which more later. Testosterone can have such a potent affect on our workouts and on our general health, vitality and well-being that we need to know how to optimise its production.

Among so many positive benefits are that it can keep us strong, hold back the ageing process, aid recovery from injury, reduce osteoporosis, help cancer sufferers and even keep our brains in tip-top condition as we enter older age. Testosterone is measured via a blood test, although this can also be done through saliva concentration – its level is normally produced by combining both free and bound levels in the body.

The former refers to the testosterone that is bioavailable and the latter that is not. Although subject to great variation – and reflexive of the testing procedures used – normal levels are seen to be between 300- 1000 nanograms per decilitres in males and 15-70ng/dl females(1) . For every molecule of testosterone a non-enhancing hormone epitestosterone is also produced. The normal male ratio of the two hormones in 1:1.

How to Boost your Testosterone…

Intensity rules

Although all exercise has a hormonal response (and as noted, this can be negative in terms of cortisol), it appears that the more intense a workout is the greater the testosterone (and other androgen) response will be (provided these workouts allow for adequate recovery and follow certain protocols).

Sample Testosterone Boosting Weights Workout

Exercises: squat, dead-lift, bench press, clean, lunge 4 x 8-10 reps x 3-4 sets – weight to lift 70-85% 1 rep max. Recovery between sets 1-2min

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This type of workout, using these compound multi-joint lifts, will kick testosterone production into over-drive. This is because you will need to be really focussed and energised to complete the workout in order to target your lean muscle builders par-excellence – your Type II, fast twitch (speed, power and growth promoting) muscle fibres.

These are the ones that will build leaner calorie burning muscle tissue during your time away from training. Intense resistance training breaks down muscle tissue and these re-grow and repair stronger and larger through protein synthesis during recovery (as we will see rest and a planned training programme are also key to maximising the benefits of testosterone). Even in the untrained resistance exercise can boost testosterone levels significantly in the 15-20 minutes post exercise.

Sprints

Sprints are another great testosterone booster. Virtually every muscle in your body will fire into action as you propel yourself as fast as you can over a short distance (30- 60m), overcoming 2-3 times your body weight on every stride. It’s a recipe for fast twitch muscle recruitment and testosterone production. Sample workout 5 x 60m sprints with 3min recovery.

A note on CV activity

Endurance workouts also release testosterone, however their effects can be more negative in terms of giving your body a positive hormonal boost. This is because intense CV workouts, such as short recovery circuit training and regular high mileages will break down muscle protein and produce the catabolic hormone cortisol. Additionally and negatively for testosterone production, research has shown that during a marathon testosterone levels fall below resting values. If you are after maximising testosterone production intense and long CV should be avoided.

More tips to follow in Part 2.

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