Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, and the most important of all the hormones that build muscle. Testosterone is required in healthy levels in both men and women to promote general health, body composition, sexual function and lower your risk for disease.
But increasing testosterone levels can promote additional muscle building as well as higher energy levels. As with most things, the human body doesn’t like ultra high levels of testosterone. But it is possible to increase your body’s natural testosterone production to optimize your health.
By increasing testosterone naturally through diet, supplements and exercise, you can reap the benefits of the additional T, such as increased energy and more muscle mass, without the side effects that often accompany steroid use.
Chances are if you’re reading this article, you already know the benefits of testosterone and are looking for ways to increase testosterone production naturally. So we will skip going over the biology behind how and why testosterone works, and get right down to the steps you can take to promote your own body’s testosterone.
1. Train with Compound Movements
One of the easiest changes you can make to your routine to boost your own test production is to incorporate compound movements into your exercise routine. Compound movements are lifts that use more than one muscle group/joint.
Most lifters are already using the bench press, squat and deadlift in their routines, but adding a few larger lifts in can really help with boosting T levels.
The ‘snatch’ or ‘clean and jerk’ are great compound exercises for increasing test production, as they use so many muscle groups. In fact, the ‘clean and jerk’ is often seen as a full-body exercise, and because you can still lift quite a bit of weight with it, it’s a great for increasing test levels.
Now we’re certainly not recommending you to replace all of your isolation exercises with big compound movements, but be sure to know where to fit them into your workout. Compound lifts should usually be done at the beginning of your workout, while you’re fresh, and your isolation movements should be done after those. For example, if you’re doing a chest workout, you should start with the bench press, and only after you’re done with that should you move onto smaller lifts, such as cable fly’s.
Using this method will allow you to get the testosterone-boosting benefits of the large compound lifts, as well as the muscular definition and pump that’s usually associated with isolation lifts.
2. More Volume!
We don’t care who you are, how long you’ve been lifting or how strong you are: unless you’re a pro, you can probably increase your volume.
Most people aren’t lifting with 100% intensity and volume, and honestly that’s ok. We all have lives to live and jobs to go to, so you can’t always be expected to give 100% in the gym. But if you can increase your volume and intensity even by 10-20 percent, you will see increases in testosterone, as your body will HAVE to adapt to the increased demands you’ve placed on it.
You may think you’ll be more tired after such a workout, but you’ll actually feel great due to the endorphins released by your body, as well as the increased energy as your body adapts and starts to pump out more testosterone.
Don’t overdue it, as it is possible to overtrain and actually injure yourself, so start small and work up incrementally. Add on an extra set of reps to all of your exercises during your next workout, and see how you feel.
3. Eat MORE Cholesterol
No, we’re not lying: eating more cholesterol, along with plenty of exercise, can help get your T levels up. In fact, testosterone is actually DERIVED from cholesterol: your body can’t make test without it!
We know that conventional wisdom tells us that we should stay away from fatty, high-cholesterol foods and eat more grains and lean protein, but that’s only good if you want to be average (and average these days is OBESE!).
Instead of chicken breast and egg whites, you should opt for healthy foods high in cholesterol: whole eggs, beef, cheese and other full-fat dairy, seafoods such as sardines, and organ meats such as liver, kidney and heart.
Now this doesn’t mean that you can just forget about your diet and eat whatever you want. In fact, you’ll have to be even more disciplined in what you consume if you’re going to have a high-cholesterol diet.
You’ll want to decrease the amount of carbs you eat, and stay away from fried foods, fast foods and processed meats.
4. Get that Vitamin D (along with other supplements)
Unless you’re working outside all day, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere you’re probably not getting enough Vitamin D. Vitamin D has been proven to have various health benefits, such as increasing testosterone and boosting your immune system.
If you’re deficient in Vitamin D, you’ll likely see a number of lower health indicators that may be hard to pinpoint. You can supplement specifically with Vitamin D, take a good multivitamin, or spend more time in the sun.
Obviously we prefer the natural route of being out in the sun, but not everyone has the time, so don’t be ashamed of taking your vitamins.
5. Minimize Stress
Modern research is consistently showing us what many people have suspected for a long time: stress is a killer, especially long-term stress.
Stress releases a hormone called cortisol, which reduces testosterone levels and increases weight gain, especially of harmful body fat around your organs.
We need to be sure to highlight the different kinds of stress. Acute stress that comes from physical exercise is actually healthy, and is needed to build muscle. The danger comes from chronic stress, such as the mental stress from working a terrible job, or the long-term stress placed on your heart and organs from being obese.
While we understand you may not be in the position to quit your job, if it’s causing you undue stress, just realize that it may be affecting your workouts, and even lowering your overall life expectancy.
By no means is this list comprehensive. There are many more ways to naturally boost testosterone, but these are the ones we think of as the most rewarding.
If you’re feeling like your testosterone is too low, or are looking to try to improve it naturally before making the big leap to steroids or TRT, try some of the tips above. If you're looking for lifting gear, check out our range!