Testosterone the king of muscle-building hormones. Men of all walks of life yearn for higher testosterone levels, hence the plethora of products pumped out each year claiming to increase levels of the male hormone. The quest to increase testosterone is an endless one, especially for lifters, as it offers the possibility of jaw-dropping gains and a stellar physique.
Unfortunately, men face an uphill battle. As men move past age 30, their testosterone levels naturally begin to decline, which brings with it a greater risk for type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, reduced muscle mass, and decreased sex drive (and performance). But, with more testosterone in the body, you’ll increase lean mass, burn body fat, improve mood, sleep, and vitality. Suffice it to say that having optimal testosterone levels bodes well for all aspects of being a man.
The problem is, most natural testosterone boosters do little in the way of actually enhancing testosterone production in the body. Sure, you could opt for steroids, prohormones, and the like, but those often come with side effects far worse (gyno, shutdown, etc.) than what you’ll experience with naturally decreasing T-levels. Does that mean your only choices are to either embrace the world of anabolics (and all their consequences) or suffer a lackluster, dull life of lethargy, grumpiness, and obesity.
NOT AT ALL!
In fact, there are a number of things you can do to ensure your body is maximizing its testosterone production so that even as you cross 30 and hit your 40s, 50s, 60s, and beyond, you maintain your masculinity, muscle mass, and testosterone.
What follows isn’t some quick fix, one-pill solution that you’re probably hoping for, in fact you might say what’s up ahead is downright unsexy, but it’s the truth and is the most effective way to naturally increase your testosterone. It’ll require some hard work and determination on your part, but you’ll end up saving thousands of dollars that you would otherwise waste on ineffective testosterone boosters at the store.
Here’s the top 5 hacks you can do to naturally boost testosterone:
5 Hacks to Increase Testosterone
Just like gaining muscle and losing fat, increasing your testosterone starts with More specifically, you need to be consuming adequate amounts of fat and cholesterol.
Aren’t those bad?!
No, fats and dietary cholesterol have been rather unfairly demonized the past few decades, but as more and more research has been conducted regarding diet and nutrition, scientists (and the public) are learning that increasing fat and cholesterol intake won’t automatically lead to heart disease and an early grave. In fact, research has shown that consuming whole eggs actually improved lipid profiles (increased HDL “good” cholesterol).
Testosterone is derived from cholesterol, which means if you’re lacking in dietary cholesterol, you’re hindering your body’s natural ability to produce the muscle-building hormone. Research is pretty clear that there is a strong relationship between fat / cholesterol intake and testosterone production. Men consuming increased amounts of fats and cholesterol tend to have higher overall T levels, while men embracing the low-fat life experience reduced production of the hormone.[2,3,4]
So, when looking to increase T-production, consider looking at your diet first and foremost and maybe tweaking things a bit to eat more fatty / cholesterol filled foods such as red meat, whole eggs, shrimp, lobster, and liver!
Just like the first point, exercise is required for muscle gain, fat loss, and testosterone production. Specifically, exercise increases testosterone production in two ways:
- Certains forms of exercise (weight lifting, high-intensity interval training) signal the body to produce more testosterone
- Resistance training increases muscle mass and decreases body fat. Adipose tissue (fat) can significantly increase the pool of circulating estrogens, so the less fat you have, the more T you’ll get!
When it comes to exercising, you want to lift, and lift heavy. Cut out the nonsense circuit training and steady state cardio, all that’s doing is jacking up your cortisol, eating away at your lean mass, and wasting your time. Focus on the heavy compound exercises like squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull ups, etc. Research has shown that training the larger muscle groups of the body lead to increases in T production. Moreover, feel free to do higher volume training too, as other research has shown higher volume workouts result in greater testosterone, but don’t take every set to failure, just the last one. And, aim to rest somewhere between 1-2 minutes too.
For HIIT, keep these session short and go for all out intensity. In addition to boosting testosterone levels, HIIT also enhances athleticism, fat metabolism, and strength. The key to these workouts is maximum effort with reduced rest periods.
Examples of HIIT workouts are sprints, sled pushes / pulls, kettlebell swings, bodyweight circuits, etc. We’ve got plenty more of those workouts here for you to check out.
Today’s society is all about getting more work done and sleeping less. You’ve probably said something along the lines of “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” or something to that effect when trying to meet a deadline.
Well, missing out on sleep is great for two things — an early death and decreased testosterone production.[11,12] See, the body’s primetime for hormone production (and growth) is while we sleep, so if you’re skimping on sleep, you’re severely limiting your body’s ability to generate gobs of the muscle-building hormone. More specifically, you could experience as much as a 10-15% drop in T-output if you’re not getting ample sleep.
If you need help getting to sleep at night, consider cutting out alcohol, avoiding blue light from electronics, and reducing caffeine intake after 3 PM. Also start to follow a bedtime ritual which cues your body it’s time to rest, perhaps even have a cup of warm herbal tea while reading for a few minutes to put your mind at ease and prepare for a great night’s sleep. You’ll be amazed how much better you feel, and how much greater your testosterone production is.
Stress is a killer, literally. Chronic stress is a contributing factor to the top six causes of death in the United States, including cancer, coronary heart disease, and suicide. If that’s not enough to make you take a chill pill, then consider this — chronic stress also stunts testosterone production.[14,15]
When we’re stressed, the adrenal glands pump out cortisol, which preps the body (and mind) for the impending stressful situation, i.e. the “fight of flight” response. Cortisol is beneficial every now and then (like getting chased by a lion), but chronic stress can do some serious damage, as we’ve already explained above.
Find areas of your life causing you stress and find ways to either fix them or eliminate them entirely. If work constantly has you freaking out, maybe consider changing jobs or requesting a transfer. If it’s the commute to work, explore new routes to get to the office or see if working from home is an option. Whatever the case may be, find ways to relax each day. Spend some personal “me time” meditating, deep breathing, or just sitting in silence to unwind and let the frustrations of the day melt away.
- Cut Out Alcohol
This may be the hardest one for those of you reading this, but if you’ve tried everything else on this list and still experiencing the symptoms of low T, consider removing alcohol from your diet. Research clearly shows that even moderate drinking can lead to a 7% decrease in testosterone levels.
Ideally, if you can cut out alcohol entirely, that would be best, but for those of you unwilling to completely forego the booze, limit your drinking to one glass of beer or wine per night to avoid a significant drop in T.
Advancing in age doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your testosterone production. Research even shows that age-related declines in T levels may not be a guarantee. But, you still have to do everything in your power to maintain optimal T output. That means eating right, exercising, sleeping, and de-stressing. Yes, it’s nothing earth-shattering or super sexy, but these are the truly effective tricks that will enhance your testosterone production, and ultimately your life.
- Blesso, C. N., Andersen, C. J., Barona, J., Volek, J. S., & Fernandez, M. L. (2013). Whole egg consumption improves lipoprotein profiles and insulin sensitivity to a greater extent than yolk-free egg substitute in individuals with metabolic syndrome. Metabolism, 62(3), 400-410.
- Volek JS, Kraemer WJ, Bush JA, Incledon T, Boetes M. Testosterone and cortisol in relationship to dietary nutrients and resistance exercise. J Appl Physiol. 1997;82(1):49 LP-54.
- Heller, R. F., Wheeler, M. J., Micallef, J., Miller, N. E., & Lewis, B. (1983). Relationship of high density lipoprotein cholesterol with total and free testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin. Acta Endocrinologica, 104(2), 253-256.
- Wang, C., Catlin, D. H., Starcevic, B., Heber, D., Ambler, C., Berman, N., … & Swerdloff, R. S. (2005). Low-fat high-fiber diet decreased serum and urine androgens in men. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 90(6), 3550-3559.
- Nelson LR, Bulun SE. Estrogen production and action. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2001;45(3 Suppl):S116-24.
- Hansen S, Kvorning T, Kjaer M, Sjogaard G. The effect of short-term strength training on human skeletal muscle: the importance of physiologically elevated hormone levels. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2001;11(6):347-354.
- Gotshalk LA, Loebel CC, Nindl BC, et al. Hormonal responses of multiset versus single-set heavy-resistance exercise protocols. Can J Appl Physiol. 1997;22(3):244-255.
- Izquierdo M, Ibanez J, Gonzalez-Badillo JJ, et al. Differential effects of strength training leading to failure versus not to failure on hormonal responses, strength, and muscle power gains. J Appl Physiol. 2006;100(5):1647-1656. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.01400.2005.
- Hackney AC, Hosick KP, Myer A, Rubin DA, Battaglini CL. Testosterone responses to intensive interval versus steady-state endurance exercise. J Endocrinol Invest. 2012;35(11):947-950. doi:10.1007/BF03346740.
- Fernandez‐Mendoza J, He F, LaGrotte C, Vgontzas AN, Liao D, Bixler EO. Impact of the Metabolic Syndrome on Mortality is Modified by Objective Short Sleep Duration. J Am Heart Assoc. 2017;6(5). http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/6/5/e005479.abstract.
- Leproult R, Van Cauter E. Effect of 1 Week of Sleep Restriction on Testosterone Levels in Young Healthy MenFREE. JAMA. 2011;305(21):2173-2174. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.710.
- Salleh MR. Life Event, Stress and Illness. The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences : MJMS. 2008;15(4):9-18.
- Francis KT. The relationship between high and low trait psychological stress, serum testosterone, and serum cortisol. Experientia. 1981;37(12):1296-1297.
- Kreuz LE, Rose RM, Jennings JR. Suppression of plasma testosterone levels and psychological stress. A longitudinal study of young men in Officer Candidate School. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;26(5):479-482.
- Sierksma A, Sarkola T, Eriksson CJP, van der Gaag MS, Grobbee DE, Hendriks HFJ. Effect of moderate alcohol consumption on plasma dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, testosterone, and estradiol levels in middle-aged men and postmenopausal women: a diet-controlled intervention study. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2004;28(5):780-785.
- Sartorius G, Spasevska S, Idan A, et al. Serum testosterone, dihydrotestosterone and estradiol concentrations in older men self-reporting very good health: the healthy man study. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2012;77(5):755-763. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2265.2012.04432.x.