All the talk about testosterone may have your head spinning a bit.
Touted as being the key to longevity, vitality, and muscular strength and growth, it has made the news rounds and then some.
But what is it, do you need more of it, and will it help you build muscle? Let’s take a closer look at this wonder hormone and see if all the talk is true or just another subject of bro-science.
What is Testosterone?
Technically speaking, testosterone is a steroid hormone that stimulates development of male secondary sexual characteristics, produced mainly in the testes, but also in the ovaries and adrenal cortex. So yes, women produce testosterone too. It has functions in almost all physical activity. It’s what supports muscle, strength, and energy. Without it, you would not be able to function or work in the gym for any length of time or level of intensity.
Low testosterone levels are associated with low libido, moodiness, loss of muscle mass, and unwanted weight gain. As natural testosterone levels begin to dip in your 30s, many men seek replacement therapy in a variety of forms: pills, patches or injections.
Does Your Body Need Testosterone?
Absolutely! When it comes to fitness, muscle growth, and fat loss, normal testosterone levels are essential for you to succeed at your fitness goals – and this includes women. Now, here we are talking about natural testosterone hormones and not the synthetic injectable type normally referred to as anabolic steroids. Since natural testosterone levels should be normalized naturally, you may need other means to increase production.
As stated earlier, low levels will degrade your efforts not only in the gym, but in the bedroom as well. Throughout your teens and 20s, you most-likely will have little concern regarding your testosterone production. As you reach your 30s and beyond is when you need to carefully look at your lifestyle as it pertains to stress levels, fitness efforts and nutrition practices.
Does Testosterone Build Muscle?
That’s the big question here. Does testosterone (naturally occurring in the body) actually build muscle? Yes and no.
Research has run the numbers and stated that if you are below the normal ranges then yes, you will have a harder time building muscle. So with that said, if you sustain normal levels of testosterone then you will realistically not have any advantage of raising those levels in the upper ranges of normal in order to have an advantage of building more muscle mass.
When it comes to fat loss the story is a bit different. According to research, as testosterone levels increased, so did fat loss. So, naturally raising your levels in the upper, normal ranges will have an effect on fat loss but not muscle gain.
How To Boost Testosterone Levels Naturally
So what if you’re one of the unlucky ones who has low testosterone levels? With all of the above said, if your levels are naturally low, you would stand to benefit to increase your levels so you can, once again, start building muscle and losing fat. But if you are against hormone replacement therapies then you are in luck and possibly in better shape than your therapy-taking peers.
Here are some ways you can naturally improve your testosterone levels:
- Evaluate stress levels: Stress can kill testosterone levels. The more stress you have the lower your “T” levels will be. Be sure to manage your stress, find ways to blow off steam (the right ways) and adopt a mantra or find tricks and tools to dissipate it from your life. The less stress, the better.
- Eat a balanced diet with fat: Of course you need a combination of complex carbohydrates and complete proteins, but you also need hormone-friendly healthy fats as well. Low levels of both unsaturated and saturated fats can lead to low “T.”
- Get some sleep: Sleep deprivation and stress can easily go hand-in-hand for being “T” killers. Lack of sleep will only drag you down a path of weight gain, less muscle and little motivation. Get 7 to 9 hours per night.
- Train the right way: Be sure you are performing some form of resistance training. Aerobic classes are great and all, but you will need to lift some iron in order to get your hormones pumping – literally. Go with the big, basic compound, multi-joint lifts.
- Keep body fat low: Don’t let your body fat creep up on you. Keep it in check and try to maintain a somewhat lean-ish build so you can keep your testosterone burning fat. Think of it as a lean-burning engine only using what you put into it.
Have any questions about testosterone and muscle building? Ask your questions in the comments below!