Can I Increase Testosterone with Exercise?

by Benjamin Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert

Ben Bunting BA(Hons) PGCert Sports and Exercise Nutrition Level 2 Strength and Conditioning CoachWritten by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.

-

Testosterone, one of the most important chemicals in your body, is especially crucial if you want to increase your muscle mass and strength. 

Why? 

The testosterone helps to heal and rebuild your muscles after they are damaged. Your muscles will become bigger, stronger, and thicker when your testosterone levels are healthy. 

If you're a bodybuilder, or simply someone who wants to put on lean muscle mass by hitting the gym.

Studies suggest that testosterone increases muscle mass by stimulating protein synthesis.

  1. At the cellular level, testosterone exerts its anabolic effects via two mechanisms. Stimulating amino acid uptake and protein synthesis.
  2. Inhibiting protein degradation by counteracting cortisol signaling pathways.

Age, higher body weight, poor nutritional status, stress, sleep deprivation and alcohol consumption are known physiological factors associated with lower serum testosterone concentrations.

Exercise is another way to boost your testosterone levels. Exercise can also help boost your performance and recovery. 

However, there are some factors to consider such as intensity, duration and type of exercise which can all have an impact.

What is Exercise?

Exercise refers to any physical activity which is planned, structured and repetitive with an end or intermediate goal of improving or maintaining physical fitness.

If we break it down, you may say there are 3 main types or categories of exercise and physical activity.

Strength 

Muscle strength is key in order to build and maintain strong bones, which allow us to perform everyday tasks more easily.

Furthermore, muscle strength regulates blood sugar and pressure levels as well as helping us achieve weight management and ensure a healthier lifestyle. 

Muscle strengthening exercises are typically measured in repetitions and sets. A repetition refers to one complete movement of an activity like bicep curling, sit-ups, or push-ups; while sets comprise multiple repetitions.

Muscle strengthening activities should not be considered aerobic exercises and should be undertaken alongside aerobic activities. 

Aerobic

Aerobic activities help protect and preserve heart, lung, and circulatory health by improving fitness levels and helping the heart, lungs, and circulatory system function more efficiently. 

  • Reduce Your Risk Of Ill Health
  • Enhance Mental And Well Being
  • Help Maintain A Healthy Weight

Aerobic activity comes with various levels of intensity. Examples are:

  • Light-intensity activities are daily tasks that don't require much exertion to complete.
  • Moderate intensity activities engage more of your heart, lungs, and muscles than lighter intensity exercises do.
  • Vigorous activities push your heart, lungs, and muscles hard.

Balance and Flexibility

Balance activities can help strengthen your resistance against forces that might make you fall, both when stationary or moving.

Walking backwards, standing on one leg, walking heel-to-toe or practicing standing from sitting are examples of balance activities, strengthening muscles of the back, abdomen and legs also improve balance. 

Stretching helps improve flexibility and your ability to fully move joints. Touching your toes, performing side stretches and doing yoga exercises are examples of stretching.

military muscle testosterone booster banner

Exercise Factors that Affect Testosterone?

An analysis of existing literature demonstrates a considerable degree of inter-individual and inter-study variability in terms of hormonal responses during exercise.

Age, body weight and exercise type as well as intensity, volume and muscle type were assessed as potential modulators factors of hormonal changes. 

Aerboic Exercise is Influenced by Intensity

There appears to be an optimal intensity level needed in order to alter serum testosterone concentrations.

When it was examined how changes in plasma testosterone vary during ergometer cycling conducted at three intensities - high, moderate and low.

Significant increases were only seen among members of the high intensity exercise group.

It has been found that when repetitions during exercise were kept constant, intensity determined the extent of postexercise increases in serum testosterone concentrations.

Reported findings indicated that, among young, healthy males, an increase of up to 31% was seen after 40 minutes of maximum intensity treadmill running with oxygen uptake peaking around 150% of its original level (reflecting an individual's highest oxygen uptake). 

Muscle Groups Influence Testosterone 

Studies have demonstrated that resistance exercise can rapidly alter serum testosterone concentrations.

Circulating testosterone has been shown to rapidly rise following heavy resistance exercise, but then return back down towards its baseline or even drop further within 30 min post-exercise.

Muscle mass plays an essential role in increasing plasma testosterone concentrations.

Even when performing vigorous resistance exercise targeting the smaller muscles (such as biceps), serum testosterone concentrations do not rise beyond resting levels as outlined in this randomized control trial. 

Studies conducted on young untrained men demonstrated that unilateral biceps curl exercises alone did not result in significant fluctuations of post-exercise serum testosterone concentrations.

However, by adding bilateral knee extensions and leg press to biceps curl protocol resulted in a notable elevation of the testosterone level.

Free Weights Are Beneficial

Researchers examined hormonal responses associated with lower body multi-joint movement free (i.e., squats) or machine weight exercises such as leg press.

Free weight exercises resulted in greater increases in plasma testosterone concentrations than did machine weight exercises. 

One possible explanation for this finding may be that it requires engaging all these muscle groups for stability during movement.

Squatting requires balance on two feet with substantial engagement of stabilizing and core muscles such as abdominals and back.

Weightlifting, which involves large muscle mass resistance exercise, led to an elevation in testosterone levels 5 min after exercise. 

Researchers studying muscle activation have also discovered that free weight exercises result in greater activation than machine exercise, likely because they engage more of the muscles involved. Machine exercises do not appear to do this.

Volume and Rest

A study looked into the effects of exercise intensity, muscle volume (i.e., number of sets and repetitions per set) and rest periods between sets on acute hormonal fluctuations.

Results indicate that an effective combination of moderate intensity, higher volume exercises and shorter rest periods between sets can acutely and significantly enhance testosterone release following physical exertion. 

Aerobic/Endurance Training vs Resistance Training

Examining the influence of baseline physical activity status on hormonal responses following an exercise protocol.

Researchers observed sedentary, endurance trained, and resistance trained individuals performing endurance and resistance exercise sessions weekly apart.

Testosterone levels improved across both types of exercise sessions, though resistance training produced greater increases than aerobic fitness training.

Comparing all three groups, resistance-trained individuals displayed the largest increases in testosterone levels after resistance training exercises.

Resistance exercise appears to be an effective means of stimulating testosterone production when sufficient muscle mass load is achieved or when combined with higher exercise intensities, larger volumes and shorter rest periods between sets. 

Do Testosterone Levels Stay High for Long?

Both endurance and resistance exercise studies have demonstrated an increase in plasma testosterone concentrations while exercising.

However, these levels were only maintained for short durations of exercise. 

One experiment found that increases in serum testosterone concentration were not sustained 20 minutes into recovery.

Another study demonstrated that, despite rapid increases in testosterone levels after 30 min of endurance running, but they significantly declined 90 minutes post recovery.

Aerobic exercise may produce an initial spike in testosterone production; however, due to factors including sympathetic nervous system stimulation and inhibition of testosterone production; and changes in its metabolism. This effect does not last over time.

Anaerobic exercise-induced stimulation of testosterone production could be explained by its effect on anaerobic glycolytic pathway-driven release of GnRH and LH. 

While both types of exercise can increase testosterone (lets' remember inensity, duration, rest periods etc), both can not produced sustainable and long-lived increases. 

The Best Exercises to (temporarily) Boost Testosterone

There are many other movements you can do if the ones below don't feel right.

You can boost your testosterone by doing resistance training, such as weightlifting and using resistance bands. However, ensure that the volume is high and the rest between sets is low for optimal results.

Or very high intensity exercises such as sprinting, short but intense cycling spints or rowing. 

The amount of testosterone in your body will increase only temporarily, lasting an hour or so.

Here are some of the best workouts you can do regularly.

HIIT

High-Intensity Interval training, or HIIT for short, is a way to exercise that is intense and characterized by bursts and heavy and hard exercises, interspersed with rest periods.

It is important to know that this type of exercise is usually cardio-based, which is great for burning calories. However, it is also necessary to use a HIIT program to build testosterone. 

Try adding resistance training to your HIIT instead of jumping jacks or burpees. This combination will help you boost testosterone. The high reps and speed range will also benefit your calorie burning. 

Weights should be lighter than normal if you are adding weight-based exercises to your hit workouts. This is because HIIT requires you to perform as many repetitions as possible in the time allotted. 

If you do too many quick reps with a heavy weight, your form can be thrown out of the window. Focus on other exercises in this article if you want to lift heavy weights. 

Deadlift 

The deadlift can boost your testosterone levels and improve your functional strength. You may already be familiar with this exercise if you are a regular gym-goer. The deadlift is easy to learn - if you don't know how or need a refresher. 

You will need to get a barbell that is loaded with enough weight so that you are close to failure by the fifth repetition. Stand over the barbell, with your feet hip-width apart. To grab the barbell, bend your hips forward and keep your back in a natural arch. 

As you lift the weight, push your heels into your floor and pull the bar up your shins, until your hips are fully extended. Hold this position for a moment before returning the weights to the group.

It is beneficial to deadlift because it strengthens the core and your abs and activates large muscles in your lower half. 

Back Squat 

Back squats are another great exercise for increasing strength. They put your lower body through a lot of strain. They trigger the release of HGH and testosterone in your body. 

Human growth hormones can be used to help grow your muscles and get bigger when you do other exercises. Consider starting your workout with back squats. 

You can perform a backsquat by placing a barbell loaded on your upper back. Holding it with your elbows up and your arms parallel to the ground, your hands should be at shoulder-width. 

Squat down as low as you can without losing your natural arch. 

To improve stability, make sure your feet are at shoulder width apart when squatting.

The back squat should be performed five times per set, for five sets. 

Bench Press 

Bench press is a great resistance exercise because you must work against the weight to push it against gravity. This makes for a very intense workout. The exercise is also great for building a strong upper body, since it targets the chest and biceps. 

Exercise increases blood circulation throughout your body. It is good for circulation, and it can increase your libido. This may explain why you feel more "excited" after a workout that includes this type of exercise. 

Bench press is performed by lowering the loaded bar down to your sternum, tucking the elbows at 45 degrees and then driving it back up to the starting position while your arms are extended. 

Use a bench to perform this exercise. Arch your back slightly so that there is space between your lower spine and the bench.  

It can be dangerous to do this exercise with heavy weights. You may become stuck under the bar, if you are too tired to push it onto the rack. It's important to have a spotter. 

Bent-Over Row

The bent-over-row is an excellent, all-around exercise. The seated row can also boost testosterone because of the resistance, and it will work your shoulders and upper-back muscles. However, the bent over row has the additional benefit of working your leg muscles. 

It is simple to do the bent-over rows. Just pull the barbell up to your chest and keep pulling until your arms are parallel with your back. You do, however, need to be careful with your positioning. 

Bend your hips, lower your torso, and bend your knees. This will relieve tension in your hamstrings. 

Shoulder Press

You can do the shoulder press without a barbell by using a standard gym machine. The handles are directly above your head, and you sit down and push them. This activates the upper back and triceps.

Ensure that your elbows are pressed in a natural way and do not tuck your elbows too far towards your chest when performing this exercise. 

Chin-Up

The chin-up and pull-up are excellent examples of a resistance exercise that will boost testosterone without the use of weights. You're working with your own body weight and this can be intense depending on your strength and size.

Chin-ups are a very simple exercise. Pull yourself up until your chin reaches the bar. 

Even if you're fit and strong, many people will need assistance with this exercise. You can use a weight counterbalance or a counterweight to remove some body weight and help build strength. 

Push-Up

The truth is, push-ups are a great full-body workout that boosts your core strength, functional strength and testosterone. 

Everybody knows how to perform a push-up. Just get into a plank, lower your arms, and then drive yourself back up. 

You can add variety and challenge to your classic push-ups by doing other variations. This will also work different parts of the back and shoulders.

Push-ups are best performed in four sets to failure with little rest between.

Conclusion

You can increase your levels of testosterone by doing exercise, however, some forms of exercise are more beneficial than others. 

Other factors to consider are intensity, volume and rest periods.

However, the caveat is that this rise in testosterone that is stimulated by exercise will only last for about 90 minutes, then your levels will subside back to their niormal range.

You can boost your testosterone naturally by using natural testosterone boosters. This is especially true if your hormone levels are dropping as you age. 

Military Muscle, a natural testosterone booster that helps boost testosterone levels and can be used in conjunction with diet and exercise to stimulate and sustain higher levels of testosterone. 

military muscle testosterone booster