The internet suggests many things that can increase testosterone levels — and one of them is exercising.
Some of the suggestions do need more scientific evidence or are proven NOT to be so effective.
But does regular exercise increase testosterone levels?
We'll answer that and address more related questions in this article.
Does Working Out Boost Testosterone Levels?
Yes, working out boosts testosterone levels. In fact, they increase after doing heavy strength training. Weight training is another great option.
Training can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. But the effect of exercising depends on how low your levels of testosterone are.
If you have low T, working out alone may not be enough to increase your testosterone. That means you'll need to rely on other habits, such as taking vitamin D supplements.
It might also mean that there are other aspects of your health that are affecting your T levels. If that is the case, you'll need to address those health problems first.
But exercise will be helpful if you have only borderline low levels of testosterone.
How Does Working Out Affect Testosterone Levels? Factors Affecting Testosterone Production
Exercise is one of the top tips to encourage natural testosterone production.
That's because it's effective in many ways.
- It keeps your body in good shape
- That means lower risk of chronic disease, better weight management, enhanced lean muscle mass, and more.
- When you don't have any health problems, your brain takes this as a sign that it can spare resources for other body processes. This includes increasing your T levels.
- It helps manage stress levels
- High cortisol levels will tell your body that it's not safe to produce testosterone.
- That's because cortisol triggers your fight-or-flight response. In this mode, your body only cares about how to help you survive your situation.
- As such, it won't spare resources for secondary processes, including balancing your hormones.
- But physical activity can increase endorphins — which are feel-good hormones. These can improve your anxious and depressed mood.
- By doing so, your body can deem it safe enough to make testosterone.
- It improves your sleep
- This is somehow related to managing stress levels. Exercise helps sleep better when you're not stressed.
- Exercising will also reduce the time it takes you to fall asleep at night.
- This is important because testosterone levels increase during sleep and decrease while you're awake.
What are the Benefits of Increased Testosterone Levels?
Why should you address low T in the first place?
Well, healthy testosterone levels come with many benefits, such as:
- Lean muscle mass
- Higher bone density
- Increased libido
- Better mood
- Healthier heart
- Improved cognitive function
Are There Any Risks and Side Effects Associated with Increasing Testosterone Levels?
As long as your T levels are still in the normal range, there shouldn't be any risks or side effects.
But if you're increasing them until they're OUT of the natural range is dangerous. Doing so means you'll experience problems such as:
- Low libido
- Low sperm counts
- Mood swings
- Cardiovascular issues like high blood pressure
- Fluid retention
- Abnormal growth of body hair
- Difficulty building muscle mass
- Other changes in body composition
You might realize that having high and low T levels share similar symptoms.
But don't worry. It's unlikely that you'll be at risk of having excess amounts of this hormone. But that's assuming you don't use anabolic steroids.
To be safe, you might want to consult a doctor to know where your T levels stand. This can prevent you from increasing them too much.
Can Working Out Too Much Lower Testosterone?
Yes, working out too much can lower your testosterone level. This is because extreme endurance exercise will increase cortisol in the bloodstream.
Then, too much of this stress hormone can cause unbalanced hormone levels.
It's also possible that you're not giving yourself adequate rest periods to recover. That can harm your body, which contributes to low T.
All these will tell your body to fix itself first before it can spare resources for secondary things.
These are mostly experienced by elite athletes and beginners who overtrain.
Signs that you're overtraining yourself include:
- Drop in performance and strength
- Difficulty sleeping
- Long recovery periods
- Excess soreness
One of the main reasons behind all that is that your testosterone is involved in protein synthesis.
If your body is overworked, cortisol prevents the hormone from being produced. In turn, your body can't properly keep up with muscle protein synthesis.
Here, protein is used to fix muscle damage from exercise (especially intense exercise).
So if you've overtrained, it's best to give yourself a break. Then once you're all better, start getting back into exercise slowly but surely.
What Types of Workouts are Most Effective for Increasing Testosterone?
People say any exercise counts when it comes to boosting testosterone. But not all types of exercises work in the same way.
What are the Best Testosterone Booster Exercises?
Here are the best exercises for a testosterone boost:
- Resistance training - Resistance training can improve both long and short-term testosterone levels.
- Weight training - Weight lifting affects the hormone more than other weight training exercises. Part of the reason is it improves your lean body mass.
- Strength training - Strength training is also among the best options for increasing your T levels. High-intensity interval training (or HIIT) is an example of this.
- Endurance training - As long as you don't overdo it, endurance exercise increases testosterone too. HIIT falls under this too.
It's important to know which exercises can boost testosterone. But it's also essential to know when to exercise.
It's best to do your strength training in the evening. That's because testosterone levels are lowest in the afternoon.
By exercising in the evening, you can get a bigger boost afterward than if you work out in the morning.
Additionally, it's important to use as many of the large muscle groups as possible. Aside from encouraging muscle growth, doing so can do wonders for your T levels.
This is why strength training and weight training with your full body are so helpful.
Exercises to Avoid (If You Want to Boost Testosterone)
Meanwhile, certain types of exercises can do your testosterone more harm than good:
- Long-distance exercises - These are the more intense kinds of endurance training. They stress out your body too much, causing an imbalance in hormone levels.
- Cardio - Too much cardio can lower your testosterone too. But moderate cardio (around 30 minutes) won't harm your t levels. As HIIT also falls under cardio, make sure you don't overdo it.
How Long Does It Take to See Results from Working Out?
As long as you don't overdo your exercise, you can see results immediately! You'll get to feel the effects in some 15 minutes to one hour.
But the exact results will differ if you commit to regular exercise.
Everything's great if you're new to exercising. You'll get a more considerable boost than those who have already been exercising for a long time.
But this changes as you continue to exercise regularly.
That's because your hormones will slowly adjust to the activity. This means your levels of testosterone will be less affected compared to when you just started exercising.
Are There Any Other Natural Ways to Increase Testosterone Levels?
Even with exercising, you might still experience low libido, low energy, and other low T symptoms.
If this is the case, there are many natural ways you can increase testosterone:
- Have a balanced diet - Certain foods have nutrients that are vital for improving levels of testosterone. For instance, shellfish and fatty fish have zinc. This nutrient is good for your reproductive health. Meanwhile, leafy greens have magnesium. These are packed with magnesium, which improves levels of free and total testosterone. Having a balanced diet also involves knowing what not to eat. Too many dairy products can be harmful to your testosterone. This may happen when the cow's milk you're getting has natural or synthetic hormones. These can affect your hormone levels too. Consuming a lot of sugar and simple carbohydrates (like desserts and white bread) can also cause a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in body fat.
- Take vitamin supplements - Taking vitamin supplements is one of the best ways to provide your body with essential testosterone-boosting nutrients. Vitamin D is very beneficial in making testosterone. It's a steroid hormone that can help manage erectile dysfunction. Boron is another great nutrient. It cuts estrogen levels so your testosterone levels can increase.
- Get the right amount of sleep - The ideal amount of sleep would be around 8 hours. Testosterone increases as you sleep and decreases the longer you stay awake. In fact, having only five hours of sleep a night can decrease levels of testosterone by as much as 15%.
- Avoid substance abuse - Substance abuse will prevent your body from producing growth hormone and luteinizing hormone. These hormones are essential to boosting your T levels. The exact side effect you'll experience depends on what substance you're abusing. Marijuana can lower sperm count and increase cortisol. Meanwhile, alcohol will increase your estrogen levels.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Let's answer a few related questions on exercise and testosterone:
Is there a difference between natural and synthetic testosterone?
Natural testosterone is a hormone naturally produced by your body. But it can also be testosterone derived from plant sources. These have the same chemical structure as what your body produces. Meanwhile, synthetic testosterone is chemically altered to make it easily available in different forms such as gels, injections, and pills.
What are the side effects of taking testosterone supplements?
Testosterone supplements are generally safe since they're made of natural ingredients. But you might show allergic reactions to some of those ingredients — especially if you take too much. For instance, too much Ashwagandha can cause diarrhea.
Does working out immediately increase testosterone?
Yes, working out can immediately improve low testosterone. That boost can last anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour. But this is assuming you're not over-exercising.
Do push-ups increase testosterone?
Yes, pushups can help increase testosterone. That's because pushups are part of weight training, which is one of the best kinds of training for testosterone. However, pushups alone won't make a very big difference in your t levels. Instead, you should also include other kinds of exercises to move as many muscle groups as possible.
How does testosterone affect your health?
Testosterone plays many roles in keeping you healthy. It increases protein synthesis, which improves muscle mass. It's good for cardiovascular and reproductive health too. Testosterone also supports bone growth and strength. It can improve your mood as well.
How can I get into a workout routine?
Start with simple exercises and gradually increase their intensity, especially if it's been some time since you last exercised. Then as you get used to it, do different kinds of exercises to move as many of your muscles as you can.
How do I know I have low testosterone levels?
Low testosterone can change your body composition. You'll notice things like loss of muscle mass, erectile dysfunction, and breast development (yes, in men). But the best way to find out how high are your testosterone levels is to talk to a doctor. They'll check your symptoms and medical history, then have you undergo a blood test.
Does building muscle boost testosterone?
Yes, building muscle can boost testosterone. In fact, the more muscle you have, the higher your testosterone levels are. These two actually form a cycle — having muscle can boost testosterone, which can then help increase muscle mass.
So, does exercise increase testosterone?
Yes, exercising can help raise your T levels, especially if you're on the verge of the low to normal range.
However, be mindful that not all types of exercise are helpful.
Resistance, strength, and weight training are your best options. Meanwhile, too much cardio and endurance exercises will harm your testosterone.
But aside from exercising, you can pick up other natural testosterone-boosting habits for the best outcome.