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Fact checked by Andrew Lenau, ISSA CPT & Sports NutritionistFACT CHECKED
May 03, 2023
There are few things in life better than working up an insane sweat during a workout, knowing you're simultaneously improving your health and building some serious muscle mass.
Oh, and did we mention it's also increasing your testosterone too?
Talk about multitasking! When you exercise, you improve your body composition. In addition, exercise helps naturally raise your testosterone levels, which helps you maintain and build the muscle you're working so hard to get.
We know you're eager to learn more, so let's get right into it. We're about to explain how working out increases testosterone, in addition to which exercises and workouts are most beneficial for boosting testosterone production.
Table of Contents:
Testosterone is a sex hormone produced by the gonads. It is the primary and most crucial androgen, meaning it is responsible for the growth of male characteristics.
Testosterone is most commonly associated with muscle growth, but it plays an essential role in each stage of life, including fetal development, puberty, and adulthood.
Testosterone plays an essential role in the body's development, starting when you're a fetus and continuing through puberty, as T is responsible for your height, body and pubic hair, the deepening of your voice, increased libido, and an increase in the growth of reproductive organs.
As you hit adulthood, testosterone levels slowly decline but serve an essential role. Testosterone is essential for the production of sperm and maintaining your sex drive.
And its importance doesn't end there.
Testosterone also signals the body to make new red blood cells, helping to keep your muscles and bones strong, is responsible for body composition, and enhancing your overall well-being. Increasing testosterone levels leads to building muscle, strength, endurance, and recovery, among several other benefits.
Pretty amazing, huh?
Testosterone is primarily produced by the gonads, the main sex reproductive organ. In men, testosterone is produced in the testes, while in women, it is produced in the ovaries in much smaller amounts.
The other method the body produces testosterone is the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which is produced in the adrenal glands and converted to small amounts of testosterone.
The body controls the production of testosterone by suppressing the release of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone to maintain normal levels1.
The medical name for low testosterone production is male hypogonadism, which is divided into two categories.
Primary hypogonadism is when a testicular disorder reduces testosterone production, while the hypothalamus or pituitary gland issues cause secondary hypogonadism.
The most common causes for primary hypogonadism are congenital diseases or acquired conditions, such as injury to the testicles, chemotherapy, or anabolic steroid.
Secondary hypogonadism is caused by congenital disease, head or brain injury, obesity, alcohol abuse, drug use, medications, stress, and lack of sleep.
Wondering how you can tell if you have low testosterone? Look for these signs.
If you have any concern about low-T levels and you are above the age of 35 (Yes, 35! Researchers and doctors are consistently seeing testosterone levels lower than expected when comparing to previous generations of the same age2), then we suggest getting an assessment with an online TRT clinic just to be sure (sometimes men are mostly asymptomatic, but this should still be addressed to improve health and well-being3).
Online TRT is affordable, efficient, convenient, and private. We highly recommend Fountain TRT for your low-T assessment.
We help men boost their testosterone up to a healthy, normal level using testosterone therapy. With our online doctor’s visits, treatment is a breeze. Start your personalized evaluation...
Yes, working out does, in fact, increase testosterone levels. Several studies have confirmed that exercise, particularly resistance or high-intensity training, can increase testosterone levels.
One study determined that exercise increases serum testosterone concentrations, but the level of increase depends on various factors such as weight, age, what time of day you exercise, and the intensity of your workouts.
The researchers also concluded that the magnitude of the hormonal change is lower in older men or those who are obese4.
So, we know a good workout split can help increase your T, but how exactly does it work? Let's find out!
Different studies have found multiple ways in which working out increases testosterone. The volume and intensity of the workout are vital to naturally increasing testosterone.
One study from 2016 found that performing large muscle group exercises first, meaning compound lifts, in resistance training and then progressing to smaller muscle groups produced a greater anabolic response compared to the reverse order.
Doing compound movements that involve several muscle groups, such as the bench press, squat, and deadlift, will produce increases in testosterone. The amount of stress damages the muscle fibers, forcing the release of testosterone and growth hormone to help repair and grow your muscles5.
Studies have also found that high intensity and greater volume in weight lifting will help increase testosterone levels. And speaking of high intensity, another way that working out can increase testosterone is through high-intensity interval training (HIIT), although this only works for men.
One study concluded that performing high-intensity running on a treadmill for 90-second intervals followed by 90 seconds of rest significantly increased testosterone levels compared to endurance training, involving running at a steady-state for 45 minutes6. Several other studies have confirmed the effectiveness of HIIT, noting that the high-intensity bursts trigger a “fight-or-flight” response, therefore increasing testosterone levels.
Working out will also help decrease body fat, which will cause an increase in testosterone. Exercise can also relieve stress, which is helpful because stress can cause testosterone levels to decline.
This question is complex, but we know that testosterone levels are highest in the morning and lowest in the afternoon.
While there aren’t any studies to confirm, some believe the morning is the best time to work out since testosterone levels are highest first thing in the morning, therefore leading to improved strength and increased energy the higher you're able to boost your levels.
But research shows that strength-training workouts may have a more considerable effect on testosterone in the evenings7. Since there isn’t a conclusive answer, the most important thing is to make sure you're consistent with your workouts.
The time of day that you're most likely to adhere to your workout is the best time to get it done.
As we briefly mentioned above, the two best types of exercise for increasing testosterone levels are resistance training (weight-lifting) and HIIT. Resistance training (strength and weight training) causes an increase in serum testosterone concentrations.
Studies show that multi-joint movements in compound exercises result in the most significant increase in testosterone. Exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses affect several major muscle groups, leading to elevated serum testosterone levels. Studies also show that using free weights produced a greater increase in testosterone than machine weight exercises.
This is likely due to the activation of the core and larger muscle groups when using free weights. These workouts should be high-intensity with as much volume as possible within 45 minutes to an hour, maximum.
It is best to use heavier weights rather than a high amount of reps with low weight. Keep your rest between sets to a minimum to maximize the intensity of the workout4.
Aside from resistance training, the other best workout to increase testosterone is HIIT. A study was conducted to determine the effect of intensity by performing ergometer cycling at high, moderate, and low intensities.
There were only significant increases in testosterone in the high-intensity group. They concluded that when repetitions are kept constant, the intensity determines the increase in serum testosterone production. The body produces more testosterone as a response to the intensity of the exercise.
Some of the common exercises used for HIIT training include the Stairmaster, treadmill, and burpees. Check out these HIIT treadmill workouts for some inspiration. Interestingly, while HIIT has been shown extremely effective at raising testosterone in men, it has been shown to reduce testosterone in women4.
One important thing to be conscious of is overtraining. Performing high-intensity workouts requires proper rest and nourishment to recover fully. Overtraining will end up lowering your testosterone levels due to increasing your stress hormone, cortisol.
Some signs of overtraining include excessive soreness, trouble recovering from workouts, difficulty sleeping, and declines in strength or performance.
Unfortunately, the boost in testosterone that occurs post exercise typically only lasts about an hour or so.
Younger and inexperienced weight-lifters will experience a greater boost because their hormones haven't yet adjusted to the changes.
The increase in testosterone you experience post-workout is significant enough to feel it, but it won’t produce anything drastic or long-term. There is a need for more research regarding this, but it's unlikely to make a significant difference in those suffering from low testosterone.
Younger people are more likely to notice the changes as they have higher baseline levels. While you may notice a slight boost in energy or overall mood following a workout, the real difference is the long-term effect.
Consistently exercising and performing high-intensity workouts will lead to increased lean muscle mass and fat loss, which lead to higher testosterone levels.
While a consistent exercise regimen is important for increasing testosterone, there are also strategies for other lifestyle modification induced increases. Some ways you can increase testosterone are by maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding drugs and alcohol, maintaining a healthy sleep schedule, and eating a healthy diet.
A balanced diet is vital for maintaining healthy hormone levels, and certain foods can even raise your testosterone levels. These foods include eggs, tuna, beef, oysters, beans, garlic, and leafy green vegetables.
In addition, if you feel you need additional support, testosterone boosters or testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) may be helpful.
Testosterone boosters have been proven effective at increasing testosterone levels, while a doctor can prescribe TRT for the most severe testosterone deficiencies.
Testosterone boosters are pretty much exactly what they sound like. They are supplements that typically help your body produce more T, thus increasing your testosterone levels.
You can learn more about T boosters in our article: What Are Testosterone Boosters?
Testosterone boosters may vary in ingredients and dosage, but they all have one thing in common. And that is to boost the amount of free testosterone within your body.
There are a few different ways T boosters can do this. Some help the body increase its production of T, while others help slow down the rate that testosterone is broken down.
And then other products, like DHEA, increase testosterone through the use of synthetic hormones or other ingredients.
When a testosterone booster targets DHEA, a natural hormone in the adrenal gland that makes androgens and estrogens, it can help your body increase testosterone levels indirectly.
When choosing a testosterone booster, it is best to use a product that uses all-natural ingredients, is third-party tested, and is free of synthetic hormones.
One of the best products on the market today is TestoPrime, which uses all-natural ingredients, including D-aspartic acid, vitamin D, and zinc.
TestoPrime is an all-natural testosterone support that can help any man take control of his youthful vitality with a flood of new and natural testosterone...
Another great product is TestoFuel, which advertises as a muscle builder and libido booster. Both products are backed by research and use all-natural ingredients, making both safe and effective options.
If you would like a more in-depth review of these products and others, be sure to check out our article on the 7 Best Testosterone Boosters. Alternatively, if you are older or experiencing multiple side effects due to low testosterone, you may want to consider testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
If this feels like a topic that may be difficult or awkward to discuss with your local doctor, you can even address this online. Check out our article on the 8 Best Online TRT Clinics to learn more.
Let's answer some frequently asked questions regarding exercise and testosterone.
The squat is one of the best exercises to boost testosterone, but really any compound move that works large muscle groups will increase T levels. Deadlifts, bench presses, rows, pullups, push-ups, and standing presses are all effective options.
Yes, exercise increase testosterone levels immediately post-workout. This boost only lasts about an hour or so, with the long-term effects of improving your body composition being more significant for your T levels.
It typically takes regular exercise and healthy living habits over an extended period to raise levels. However, if you want to raise them fast, a testosterone booster is the best way.
Several studies have shown that working out can increase testosterone levels, but the extent of the increase depends on multiple factors. The variability in testosterone levels is caused by differences in age, current body composition, the type of exercise performed, and what time of day you exercise.
The two most effective exercise methods to increase testosterone levels in men are heavy-weight resistance training and HIIT. There are other ways to increase testosterone, such as naturally through a healthy diet, so explore all options to determine which method (or methods) is best for you.
A great strategy for improving your testosterone levels is pairing a regular workout split with a testosterone booster. Check out these 7 Best Testosterone Booster Supplements to pick the best one for you!
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