Testosterone - Nature’s Magic Hormone
According to WebMD, Testosterone is the “…most potent naturally occurring androgen…” in the human body. It is responsible for many of the body’s important functions, including the development of sex characteristics, the strengthening muscle tone and addition of bone mass.
Many supplement companies sell products which claim to raise testosterone levels. Some of these work, many more do not - but they all have one thing in common: Their cost is often prohibitively high, and their results are often lacking in those with normal hormone levels. For those wanting to get an extra boost of fat-fighting, muscle-building hormones, it can be hard to spend hard-earned money on these products. Luckily, there is another natural, and free way to get that hormonal boost. You can increase testosterone with exercise!
Intensity - The Key To Unlocking Your Full Hormonal Potential
Yes, simply exercising can cause an increase in testosterone production. Just turning on the treadmill and going for a short walk won’t quite cut it, unfortunately. The secret ingredient to raising your testosterone levels is simple, but by no means easy: Crank up the intensity.
According to a study by the Research and Sport Medicine Center in Spain, “…the magnitude of metabolic demand or the fatigue experienced during the resistance exercise session influences the hormonal and cytokine response patterns. Similar relative intensities may elicit not only higher exercise-induced fatigue, but also an increased acute hormonal and cytokine response during the initial phase of a resistance training period.”
To put this in simple terms:
Your body adapts to the stresses put upon it. So to get your body to release more testosterone, you have to create a need for the hormone. The more stress you create, the more hormones must be used to keep up, so to speak. Whether you are out for a run, or lifting weights, you will want to do your chosen activity as intensely as possible to elicit the most beneficial response.
Exercise Selection - Less Time, Better Results
Now that we have our secret ingredient, intensity, we simply have to apply it to our exercise routines. You may already have an established routine. Provided here are the best “bang for your buck” exercises which can be applied with intensity. These are not the only exercises that can be used, but they are a good staple of choices for those new to exercising, or those wanting to mix things up with new choices.
Ever picked up a suit case while traveling, or any heavy object? That’s a deadlift! Arguably the single best maximal strength exercise in existence. It is also arguably one of the most applicable to daily life. Every time you bend down to pick something up, you are performing a deadlift. This works the entire body, causing a large stress response.
The most natural movement in all of weight-lifting, you simply squat down with a weight (or none at all!). Builds a powerful trunk and core, which are some of the largest muscles in the body. Ensure you are reaching at least parallel (the back of the knee is at a 90 degree angle or lower), ideally touching the back of your legs to your calves. There is a very popular myth that squats beyond parallel are bad for the knees, yet the science shows squatting fully to the ground is actually far safer and puts less sheer force on the knee.
The Bench Press:
Lift a weight above your chest from a horizontal (lying on a bench) position. Builds a powerful upper body and is one of the most popular lifts in the gym today.
The Pull Up:
Simply hang from a bar, a tree, a towel, or a rope, and pull yourself up. Builds a strong, powerful back and is the best way to build large biceps.
The Over Head Press:
Take a weight, place it over head in any manner. Press it strictly, use your legs to get extra momentum, or use one of the Olympic lifts. What is important is getting the weight over head - it works the entire body, including the core. If you can hold a heavy weight over your head without wobbling, you do not have to worry about functional strength!
As you can see, any weight lifting exercise that uses the entire body (a compound lift) is good for increasing testosterone levels. Avoid isolation exercises (they only work single muscles, ie: bicep curls) as they do not put enough stress on the body. While I have listed only weight training exercises, if you are working on your endurance (or cardio) do not feel left out! Instead of jogging, sprint! Ride a bike up-hill. The possibilities are endless!
A Man With A Plan - Putting It Together
It seems fairly simple: whatever your activity, do it as fast and powerful as possible. You’ll increase testosterone with exercise, and you will get more work done in less time, making your day more efficient. The benefits to training with intensity often outweigh the difficulty in upping the intensity.
If you are new to training, start slowly and build your way up into a program based on intensity. It is not recommended for complete beginners, but pay attention to your body and watch the difference between a beneficial pain and a pain that indicates injury.
Be safe, have fun, and get results!