Testosterone has always been (and always will be) a highly talked about hormone in the Bodybuilding world. This is because Testosterone is the main anabolic hormone, and therefore a big factor when it comes to building muscle and improving strength. For these reasons, it makes sense as a Bodybuilder to try and increase/maintain the amount of Testosterone naturally produced by your body.
The benefits of having high Testosterone levels are not just increases muscle mass but also decreased body fat, increased bone density, increased libido and lower blood pressure, all of which will improve body composition and athletic performance. Testosterone can also affect your emotional health; men with low testosterone levels are more prone to depression and low self esteem, whereas high testosterone levels are often associated with aggression and anger. Everyone will naturally produce a varying amount of Testosterone depending on certain factors, the main one being sex (males produce more than females), but there are other factors such as age, weight, diet, and overall health which will all contribute.
You can’t change your sex, or stop your age increasing, but there are several things you can do to help naturally raise/maintain your Testosterone levels...
1. Resistance Training – Ok, most of you reading this will be doing this already but be sure to include plenty of compound exercises such as squats and deadlifts and lift heavy.
2. Lose weight (Fat) – Carrying excess fat causes your body to produce more Oestrogen whilst decreasing the amount of Testosterone. But lose weight slowly because cutting calories too low/going too long between meals will also reduce the production of Testosterone.
3. Sleep/Rest - Aim for 8 hours sleep a night and be sure to include complete rest days in your training so that your body can recover/grow sufficiently. Failure to do this will decrease Testosterone levels and decrease muscle gains as it is at night when your body produces Testosterone and recovers from the day’s activities.
4. Control stress – Stress increases the production of Cortisol which lowers Testosterone production. Cortisol also increases fat storage which from Point 2 above you now know also reduces Testosterone levels.
5. Zinc and Vitamin D – Both are known to increase Testosterone production. Sources include shellfish and exposure to natural sunlight.
6. Don’t drink – It may seem a bit extreme to say don’t drink any Alcohol but just because something is socially acceptable does not make it beneficial to your body. Drinking Alcohol is one of the most detrimental things you could do. Its effects will last days, and potentially forever (liver damage). Alcohol is a toxin and has to be broken down by your liver, but your liver is also responsible for the breakdown of Oestrogen, so overloading your Liver will not only increase the levels of Oestrogen in your body, but also increase stress (see point 4) which is even more bad news for your body. Alcohol blunts Testosterone production and increases aromatase production which in turn increases Oestrogen levels. Also, the calories in Alcohol are known as ‘empty’ calories because they have absolutely no nutritional benefit and are likely to be stored as fat (see point 2). And finally, Alcohol reduces the absorption of Zinc (see point 5) As you can see, Alcohol can start a vicious cycle of fat gain and muscle loss!
7. Keep cardio sessions short in duration and high in intensity by incorporating HIIT into your weekly routine.
8. Omega 3 – These healthy fats found in oily fish, nuts and avocados are essential for the production of Testosterone.
There are also supplements available to help increase natural Testosterone production. Two which I recommend are Tauro Test and Bullk by Anabolic Designs. They contain a unique synergistic blend of ingredients to help raise Testosterone levels and reduce Oestrogen levels to help increase strength, increase protein synthesis and reduce fat storage, without the danger of side effects which can be common with pro hormones/steroids.
Whether your Testosterone is currently high or low, do not fall into the trap of believing it is ‘set’ at a certain level; you are responsible and in control of your hormones, and by following the above points you should see results not only physically, but also in your general health and well being.