Physical exercise is well established as a means to releasing essential hormones including testosterone. Studies will repeatedly mention that “maximal exercise” is the key to raising the level of serum androgens, which include testosterone (but also cortisol [hydrocortisone] – more on this later) and the catecholamines more commonly known as adrenalin and noradrenaline.
Of course, the definition of “maximal” or strenuous exercise will likely vary with the individual, and even academic literature on the subject has a frustrating habit of not quantifying the levels of physical endurance and performance that would be considered “maximal.” Some reports indicate that, such as findings on long-term strength training “[inducing] a significant increase in serum basal testosterone after 2 years of weightlifting.”
Yet conflicting reports state the habit of pushing oneself to total exhaustion will not always yield positive results where testosterone production is concerned: many health professionals will insist, for example, that prolonged physical activity – e.g. endurance running – decreases testosterone concentrations. Popular consensus does, pillsmarket.org nonetheless, point to a few benchmarks for what a proper level of strain might be: athletes should do enough repetitions of an exercise to break a sweat during their regime, and should “quit while ahead” or not plan on gaining any benefits from continuing to work out after already exhausted (this is one reason why long-distance cycling may not be the best means of beginning a testosterone-increasing program, and in fact numerous road cyclists have been found to have 20-29% lower testosterone concentrations than other athletes.)
It is also important not to focus solely on the endurance component of physical training, but to stay committed to an adequate regime of rest and recuperation – insufficient rest between periods of strenuous exercise will ironically result in many of the exact symptoms, such as high irritability, that characterize testosterone deficiency.
The ‘high intensity’ strength training family of exercises is one of the most reliable ways to ensure normal levels of testosterone, and the good news is that the exercises in this family can be done with the simplest equipment, and by those with an insufficient budget for a gym membership. Squats, which require equipment no more sophisticated than barbells, have been shown to increase the levels of growth hormone and testosterone. The parallel back squat, though working primarily upon the quadriceps and strengthening other leg muscles in the calf area, can stabilize the ‘core’ bodily region comprising the abdominal muscle wall, pelvis and lower back.
Another commonly cited exercise for increasing testosterone production is deadlifting, which again requires equipment no more complicated than a weight-loaded barbell. Deadlifting involves lifting the weight from ground level (with the “dead” here referring to any form of weight without momentum) to about waist height, supplements-factory.org from a bent over position that stiffens into a straight-backed posture once the weight is properly lifted. As with squats, this exercise will activate the quadriceps and the abdominal wall, but will also work upon the forearms (the strength of the latter will determine whether an overhand or underhand grip is most appropriate during these exercises, with a “mixed” group also being an option.)
The bench press is the third of the “canonical” exercises that can be relied upon for consistent testosterone production, and is a good complement to other lifting exercises as it focuses more on developing pectoral, triceps and deltoid [e.g. rounded shoulder] muscle.
It is also worth considering, before committing to an exercise regime, not just what to do, but when to do it: while intense workouts at any time of the day can be beneficial for those hoping to boost testosterone levels, those conducted in the morning will take advantage of the fact that testosterone levels are already at their peak in the morning hours (again, owing to adequate rest overnight.) This cannot be stressed enough, especially in light of what sleep researcher Paul Martin has said on the subject – namely that “more than two thirds of [men’s] total daily production of growth hormone occurs during the early phases of sleep.” However, successfully attaining full nights of relatively uninterrupted sleep is just one precaution that should be placed under the broader category of preventing psychological stress, a condition that will undo ambitious efforts at increasing testosterone through physical exertion.
As of 2010, psychology research done at the University of Texas points towards the release of the stress hormone cortisol as being in direct conflict with testosterone – in “imminent survival situations” where responding to the ‘competitive’ dictates of testosterone could be fatal, cortisol favors “flight” over “fight” in the hopes that life will be saved.
Psychological stress reduction is perhaps easier said than done in highly competitive societies, but the counter-testosterone effect of stress does suggest that weightlifting and cycling should not become the sole means of attaining “stress relief” in daily life. Meanwhile, if rigorous exercise itself leads to heightened anxiety, those who wish to increase testosterone levels through exercise should make attempts to choose an encouraging setting and social group that will lessen this anxiety whilst working towards personal goals.