by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert
Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.
Question: Can Calisthenics Boost Testosterone?
Answer: Yes, calisthenics can increase testosterone levels.
However, the increase may not be as significant as with weightlifting exercises.
Effect of Exercise on Serum Testosterone Levels in Adult Men
Serum testosterone (TT) concentrations increase during exercise, with its response dependent on type, intensity and volume of activity performed.
Longer duration exercise on basal plasma TT levels remains controversial. Previous research demonstrates that lifelong sedentary older men had lower resting basal TT levels compared to well-trained athletes.
Studies have reported direct correlations between aerobic exercise and serum testosterone concentrations in lean individuals and an increase in circulating testosterone concentrations, such as an acute hormonal response from exercise, and reduced body fat mass and waist circumference due to training.
It may explain why other studies using similar protocols to stimulate an acute increase of circulating testosterone have failed to demonstrate an increase in exercise capacity and muscle strength among overweight/obese subjects.
Cardiorespiratory fitness is the strongest predictor of total mortality for middle-aged men.
A strong correlation has also been identified between endogenous serum testosterone levels and cardiorespiratory fitness, particularly among males with preexisting basal testosterone levels lower than predetermined baselines.
Numerous studies have evaluated the effects of long-term exercise on serum testosterone and SHBG levels, yielding seemingly contradictory findings.
While studies report both an apparent drop in sex hormone levels during and after exercise as well as an increase in SHBG, with both proteins returning rapidly back to baseline following physical exertion; at the same time however a transient rise has been noted after short-term exercise among elderly males.
Many older adults lead sedentary lives and have low serum testosterone concentrations, making exercise increasingly insufficient in terms of increasing testosterone (TT) concentrations and free testosterone.
A six-week program of moderate aerobic training increased both TT concentration and free T levels among sedentary older men, and high intensity interval training further elevated both.
This result is consistent with the theory that unbound active forms of testosterone that bind directly to androgen receptors to produce anabolic effects during physical exercise may contribute to increases in TT concentration.
Although acute increases in serum testosterone concentrations following resistance exercise can boost muscle hypertrophy, these high levels may soon drop back down to their pre-exercise values due to either suppression of androgen receptor by Adenosine Triphosphate or inhibition of testosterone production in the testis.
Studies have nevertheless suggested that basal testosterone elevation post-exercise may be optimal for adaption processes in muscle fibers.
Resistance exercises that use large muscle masses tend to be more successful at raising plasma testosterone levels than exercises targeting smaller muscle groups.
One study demonstrated this when they found that performing one biceps curl did not raise plasma testosterone levels while performing either squat or deadlift workout did.
The authors theorize that this could be explained by greater activity from larger muscles involved during free weight exercise routines vs one-biceps curl.
Galbo et al. found that exercise intensity appeared to affect immediate changes in plasma testosterone concentrations, with those exercising at 70% and 85% of their VO2max experiencing comparable increases in testosterone, although only those performing at 70% experienced greater increases.
Manesh et al. conducted research that demonstrated this finding; when comparing different intensities on both testosterone and luteinizing hormone (LH), those performing at lower intensities (70% of VO2max) experienced more significant hormonal responses after exercising at these intensities than when performing at higher intensities (85% of VO2max).
Other factors may also have an effect on changes in basal testosterone levels induced by resistance exercise.
For instance, treadmill training resulted in elevated serum testosterone levels among overweight or obese individuals after 12 weeks; this effect did not persist when participants used lighter weights or were administered 100 mg of testosterone enanthate in sesame oil (Delatestryl) intramuscularly for 10 weeks.
Research regarding the relationship between variable and constant exercise intensities has produced inconclusive findings.
Furthermore, results of some studies demonstrate that type of resistance exercise also seems to impact immediate changes in plasma testosterone concentrations.
Specifically when combined with either low volume or high volume workouts with short rest intervals between sets resulting in more acute increases of T than either variable alone.
Studies have documented a correlation between endogenous total serum testosterone concentrations and cardiorespiratory fitness and testosterone concentrations.
However, its relationship to muscular anabolism/hypertrophy remains less clear. A temporary increase in testosterone following exercise may facilitate myofibrillar protein synthesis through upregulated androgen receptor mRNA expression and increased ligand binding capacity of androgen receptors as well as enhanced oxidative metabolism leading to longer half lives and reduced clearance from tissues.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that T levels immediately spike after resistance exercise and return to baseline within 30 minutes post-exercise.
The magnitude of this acute change depends on intensity and volume of exercise.
Resistance exercises involving large muscle mass or moderate to high exercise volume combined with short rest periods between exercise sets appear more effective at producing maximal changes in testosterone levels.
Multiple studies have also established that basal T correlates inversely with aerobic exercise tolerance as measured by cardiopulmonary exercise testing or muscle strength testing.
This was demonstrated in the Safarinejad et al study which showed professional cyclists having lower basal testosterone than age-matched sedentary controls.
Another such example being found by Massachusetts Male Aging Study where low T was associated with respiratory disease mortality risk.
No matter the negative impacts of aging and low T on cardiovascular function, multiple research groups have discovered that regular resistance exercise can lessen or even reverse this decline.
Though most research has focused on young and healthy adults, recent clinical trials have demonstrated promising results for older patients with stable chronic heart failure.
Patients receiving testosterone replacement therapy showed improvements in quality of life and physical functioning (such as 6-min walk test scores and quadriceps strength tests) when compared with placebo treatments as well as greater compliance with treatment regimens.
Studies have demonstrated a strong relationship between levels of exercise tolerance measured using cardiopulmonary exercise testing (CPET), muscle strength or walking speed testing, and endogenous total testosterone serum concentrations among middle aged and elderly men, and endogenous total testosterone concentrations.
Unfortunately, however, these correlations often depend on small numbers of participants and do not correlate directly to exercise intensity or muscular hypertrophy levels.
The levels of serum testosterone can vary based on genetics, lifestyle choices and environmental influences as well as exercise type intensity levels.
Studies comparing resistance training with endurance exercise have demonstrated that both types of physical activity increase testosterone levels.
However, resistance training seems to produce greater changes. While its cause remains elusive, one theory suggests that resistance exercise stimulates testes testosterone synthesis; further research must be conducted on this mechanism.
Another theory suggests that testosterone levels in the blood are affected by how much muscle is engaged during an exercise session, which increases with volume and intensity; perhaps explaining why resistance training yields higher testosterone levels compared with endurance exercises.
Chronic endurance training has been shown to cause an inverse decrease in basal testosterone concentrations despite no change in plasma LH or FSH levels, likely as a result of HPA axis suppression and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism associated with long-term endurance training.
Other research has demonstrated that exercise intensity and volume influence the levels of circulating testosterone, with higher intensity exercises that involve larger muscle volumes having the greatest impact in increasing circulating levels.
Exercise appears to have an equal impact regardless of body mass when it comes to increasing synthesis, release, binding to SHBG binding of testosterone.
The Benefits of Calisthenics for Testosterone Production
Calisthenics without weights is an effective way to build muscle and shed fat, and is becoming an increasingly popular bodyweight training method.
Calisthenics is particularly beneficial for individuals without access to expensive equipment or gym memberships who want to increase their fitness.
Research suggests calisthenics increaseS testosterone levels while stimulating human growth hormone production - however other factors, including diet, sleep quality and stress levels can affect hormone production which must also be factored into calisthenics routines in order to maximize results.
Calisthenics Can Help Increase Testosterone Production
Squats and deadlifts tend to be more effective at stimulating anabolic hormones than isolated exercises like pushups.
This is likely because these workouts focus on engaging major muscle groups that have more of an effect on testosterone than other exercises do.
Calisthenics helps develop your proprioceptors, which are receptors located within joints, muscles, ligaments and connective tissue that allow your body to sense where your parts are without having to look directly at them.
These sensors play an essential role in maintaining balance, flexibility and coordination while preventing injuries and improving performance.
Calisthenics is less taxing on your joints than lifting heavy weights, which can damage tendons and ligaments in your shoulders, back, and knees. With less strain to bear when training regularly for strength goals over time.
How Calisthenics Can Boost Your Testosterone Levels
Calisthenics exercises work various muscle groups by employing bodyweight exercises like squats, push ups, planks lunges and pull-ups among others.
Studies have shown that engaging in high-intensity workouts with calisthenics is one of the best ways to increase testosterone levels, since high intensity exercises involve short bursts of energy that lead to an increase in testosterone.
Calisthenic exercises designed to increase testosterone are those which utilize your entire body weight as resistance, like the squat.
It recruits all leg and buttock muscles and you can perform them either with barbells or air (bodyweight squats).
Another excellent exercise for increasing testosterone is military press, which works shoulders and triceps as well as push ups, chin ups, and dips - each will give a noticeable increase in testosterone levels.
Calisthenics Vs. Weightlifting For Testosterone: Which is Better?
Physical exercise has long been known to increase testosterone levels, with specific types of training having more of an impact than others.
Calisthenics exercises using your own body weight as resistance are known to amplify it similarly to lifting heavy weights - due to the intensity and high heart rate required, which stimulates testosterone release from cells within your body and cause plyometric movements that strengthen legs and upper bodies alike.
However, it must be noted that anabolic stimulus requires an overload of the muscles to excrete testosterone. Therefore, using weights that are too light, or doing too few repetitions are unlikely to yield a great deal of anabolic response.
Many calisthenics practitioners inquire as to whether this form of exercise increases testosterone levels. Testosterone is a hormone which promotes muscle growth and strength while simultaneously being associated with masculinity and virility. When your body engages in activity, additional growth hormones and amino acids are produced as well.
Testosterone levels fluctuate naturally throughout the day and are affected by diet, sleep patterns and other external influences; however, regular exercise has been proven to increase testosterone in men and women alike.
Calisthenics is an increasingly popular bodyweight exercise method which utilizes bodyweight exercises to build muscle strength and endurance without needing expensive equipment.
There is evidence to support calisthenics as an effective way for men to increase testosterone by encouraging muscle growth. Studies have also indicated that compound exercises, like push-ups, can provide greater increases in testosterone than isolated exercises alone. However, the choice of which should be down to the prwctical limitations of either.