9 Ways to Increase Your Testosterone Through Diet and Exercise

ways to increase testosterone

Testosterone, it might be the most important “sex” hormone guys have.

But testosterone isn’t just about having an erection and getting laid.

It plays an vital role in living an awesome life. Having a healthy testosterone level is important because it’s responsible for many aspects of an awesome life.

Testosterone plays a role in building and maintaining muscle mass, staying lean, building strong bones, maintaining energy and a positive mental outlook are all associated with having healthy testosterone levels.

Unfortunately the testosterone levels of men today are dropping fast. Not only will a man’s testosterone level naturally drop about 1.5% per year after age 30, there is something about modern life that is taking it’s toll on the testosterone levels of guys everywhere.

What exactly is causing the drop, we don’t know. But we do know that there is a good chance your father and grandfather had far greater testosterone levels than you do at the this age. One study found that between 1987 and 2004 the average man’s total testosterone levels had dropped 22%!

Low testosterone has been linked to a number of problems including:

  • Muscle loss
  • Fatigue
  • Osteoporosis
  • Depression
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Fat Gain
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Inability to gain and maintain an erection
  • Low libido

So what steps can you take to boost your testosterone?

1. Get to the Gym

dumbbell

Exercise is a great testosterone booster.

This is especially true if you’re overweight, obese or unfit.  Excess fat is associated with low testosterone and may actually be converting testosterone to estrogen. Combine that with a sedentary lifestyle and your not only losing muscle but also lowering your testosterone.

So get moving lose any excess fat and get lean.

Keep in mind, not all exercise is equal. While any exercise is better than sitting on the couch watching Netflix, there are some strategies and guidelines you can follow to maximize your testosterone levels.

2. Weights are Better Than Cardio

Weight training has a far greater effect on testosterone than cardio does. In fact, too much cardio may actually decreases your testosterone. Don’t worry if you’re just running a couple miles a few times a week, that’s good for your heart and won’t have any effect on your “test” levels.

But if you’re training for a marathon and logging multiple 10 plus mile runs a week, you’re probably either decreasing your testosterone or increasing your cortisol which essentially negates the effects of testosterone.

Conversely, weight training builds and maintains muscle mass, one of the markers of high testosterone levels. So go pick up some weights and don’t overdo the cardio.

3. Try to Be Done in 60 Minutes:

One of the reasons long distance cardio may lower test levels significantly is simply due to the length of time it takes. The same thing has been found in strength/ power sport athletes who are training for consecutive hours at a time. Keeping workouts to an hour or less is probably best if you’re focused on increasing your testosterone levels.

4. Emphasize Multi joint Movements.

Exercises like squats, deadlifts, the overhead press and clean are associated with large increases in testosterone. Single joint exercises like biceps curls, triceps kickbacks and calf raises, not so much. It doesn’t mean single joint exercises are worthless, it just means they shouldn’t be the primary focus if you’re looking to boost your testosterone.

This is most likely due to the fact that the amount of weight that can be used and overall stress on the body is much higher with heavy multi-joint movements.

5. Choose heavy Weight Over Light Weight:

All things being equal a heavier load will produce a greater testosterone response.

There does, however, seem to be a loading “sweet spot”. Most studies found a load of at least 70% of 1RM (rep max) had to be used to get a significant increase in testosterone.

For most people on most exercises, a 70% load is equivalent to the amount of weight they can lift for a set of 10-12 reps. Studies done with lighter loads than this usually didn’t find a significant testosterone increase.

6. Moderation and Rest Interval Matters:

Going too heavy, 90% of your maximum for one rep (1RM) is usually associated with little to no increase in testosterone.

This is partly because the rest interval needed between sets of very heavy weights (90% or more of 1RM) is usually 3 minutes or more. This gives the body a chance to clear the waste products that build up during the set and it appears that accumulating those waste products helps trigger a testosterone release.

That said, a lighter load of only 50% of 1RM with higher repetitions (15-20 per set) for 5 sets, using a minimum rest period (about a minute between sets), in the squat, was found to lead to a significant increase in testosterone. Don’t let that percentage fool you. This type of protocol using compound lifts can be brutal after a set or two.

The take-home seems to be: if you’re using a lighter loader with a compound lift you can get a testosterone boost as long as the fatigue (cellular or metabolic waste) you accumulate is very high. As one study described it,

In general, the variables within the acute program variable domains must be selected such that the resistance exercise session contains high volume and metabolic demand in order to induce an acute testosterone response.”Vingren, Kraemer, Ratamess et. al.


The Exercise Testosterone Boosting  Sweet Spot:

  • Compound, multi joint, lifts like squats, deadlifts, cleans, bench presses and pullups
  • Loads of 70-80% of 1RM
  • Moderate to High Volume Loads: 3 to 10 sets of 6-15 repetitions
  • Short rest periods of 90 seconds or less
  • Don’t do too much cardio

Exercising has been recognized as the most efficient way to naturally increase your testosterone levels in case you are suffering from low testosterone. But the truth is that exercising has been also reported to be one of the causes for low testosterone.

How are exercising and low testosterone levels related?

This might sound confusing. Let us explain how exercising increases your testosterone levels before we proceed on with explaining how exercising can cause for your testosterone levels to drop.

  • Overexercising

Many athletes tend to starve themselves in order to reach a certain body weight goal. Unhealthy diet and overexercising is a combination that cannot only lead to low testosterone levels but what is most important can cause various additional problems.

  • Stress 

Stress and depression are a few of the most common causes for low testosterone levels. Exercising, on the other hand, is one of the most efficient stress relief and mood improvement methods. By eliminating the cause for low testosterone, exercising with increase its levels right away. Actually, there are a number of studies which confirm that exercising increases the testosterone levels among men. The best exercises that will help you increase your testosterone levels are aerobic exercises, kegel exercises for men, yoga, weight lifting and etc. But as we said before, exercising can be the reason for your low testosterone levels as well.

Too much exercising puts a lot of stress on your body and as we said before stress is one of the most common causes for low testosterone among other sexual health problems among men. For example, the Journal of Novel Physiotherapies published a review of studies confirm that overtraining leads to adrenal insufficiency. It is the inability of the adrenal glands to produce a normal quantity of hormones. That said, the additional stress on your body caused by overexercising stimulates the production of stress hormone cortisol, which is testosterone’s archenemy. Endurance athletes are at the greatest risk as various studies suggest.

  • Lack od hydration

People tend to forget about the need to hydrate their bodies every day, especially if they are performing high-intensity training sessions. Not drinking enough water during your training sessions will lead to exhaustion which will put extra stress on your body and the result is low testosterone levels!

  • Steroids

Many individuals tend to use various steroids to get the energy and stamina that they need for their workout. What they do not know is that certain steroids will do them more harm than good and they can quickly face not only low testosterone levels but also kidney, liver and heart problems.

For most men, exercising does really increase their testosterone levels. Like with everything – moderation is the key!

Nutrition

food-salad-healthy-lunch-large

Nutritional status also plays a major role in your testosterone production. If you’re not providing the body with the right nutrients you can’t optimize its testosterone levels no matter what exercise you do. Here’s some of the foods and supplements that can help boost your test.

7. Eat More Vitamin D

While we’re not entirely sure how Vitamin D plays a role in testosterone production. We do know that low Vitamin D levels correlate with low testosterone levels and that Vitamin D supplementation to correct a Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to help increase testosterone levels.

Vitamin D is one of the easiest deficiencies to fix. Simply go out in the sun for 10-15 minutes a day, get an over the counter supplement or eat some of the really common foods that are high in Vitamin D.  In my experience, most dietitians and nutritionists recommend Vitamin D3 if you choose to go with a supplement.

Foods High in Vitamin D:

  • tuna
  • salmon
  • egg yolks
  • cheese

8. Add More Zinc to Your Diet 

Zinc deficiency is common throughout the world. Studies have consistently found high levels of zinc and high levels of testosterone to be associated. While low levels of zinc and low testosterone levels are associated. So it’s safe to say, as Zinc goes, so goes your test levels.

Zinc can be Found in:

  • Oysters
  • Beef
  • Seafood (Lobster, Crab)
  • Nuts
  • ZMA and Zinc supplements

9. Fat is Good For You

Yep, fat. It might be the most important nutrient when it comes to testosterone production. Testosterone production has consistently been shown to be influenced by the amount of fat in the diet. Generally, the more fat you consume the more testosterone you’ll produce. It seems that saturated fats, the kind that are solid at room temperature, may have the most powerful effect of all fats on test levels.

Don’t worry, fat doesn’t make you fat. Excess calories make you fat. If your fat intake is around 15-30% of your total calories you’re probably eating enough fat to maximize the testosterone response without adding too many calories.

So don’t start slamming cookies and ice cream all day but a nice marbled ribeye probably wouldn’t hurt if you’re hitting the weights hard too.

8. Get a proper sleep

Maybe the most potent testosterone booster there is…..

Just one week of 5 hours of shuteye or less a night can absolutely destroy your testosterone levels. Lowering them 10-15% from baseline. Testosterone levels rise consistently during the first three hours of uninterrupted sleep. From there, testosterone levels plateau and upon waking begins to decrease until your next sleep cycle.

Basically,  get your 7-8 hours a night of shut eye and you’re going to help maximize your testosterone response.

Healthy testosterone levels are necessary to maximize your life. Not only in the bedroom and gym, but in every aspect. If you’re a guy, in today’s world, your testosterone levels are probably lower than they could and should be and you may want to consider taking some of these steps to try and stop the decline up your “test” levels.

About the author Roy Pumphrey

Roy Pumphrey is a Baltimore based trainer who's been making people a little more awesome in person and over the interwebzz for over a decade now. You can read some of his ramblings on health, fitness, and lifting heavy thing here at Wingman Magazine and @ roypumphrey.com