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5 Testosterone Boosting Exercises


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Medically approved by Dr Earim Chaudry
Chief Medical Officer
iconLast updated 22nd November 2021

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Testosterone is an important hormone, and increasing levels of it may help with your mood, energy levels, and libido. If you’re interested in naturally increasing your testosterone levels, exercises like weight training and high-intensity interval training can help, whereas other exercises can actually reducescribble-underline testosterone levels.

Testosterone is one of the body’s essential hormones. An androgen (male sex hormone), it helps develop male traits, such as body and facial hair, higher muscle mass, and a deeper voice.

In adults, a healthy level of testosterone is important for general health and wellbeing, helps to minimise the risk of disease, and can improve sexual function and body composition. 

But what can you do if you suspect that your T-levels are too low? Before you opt for expensive supplements or testosterone replacement therapy, you could simply hit the gym.

Exercises to Increase Testosterone Levels

Not all forms of exercise will boost testosterone levels, but here are 5 that have been proven to help:

1. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT is characterised by short but intense bursts of exercise, combined with periods of rest or lower-intensity exercise. It’s known to burn a lot of calories in a short space of time, helps to reduce body fat, and can increase muscle mass in certain individuals.

And it also has the potential for boosting testosterone levels:

  • Firstly, a 2011 study found that T levels increased significantly for those performing six “35-m sprints at maximum effort with a 10-second recovery between each sprint”.
  • And a 2012 study put HIIT head-to-head with steady-state endurance exercise (SSE). The results observed that those performing 45 minutes of alternating between hard sprints and light jogs every 90 seconds received a higher boost to their testosterone levels than those running continuously for 45 minutes.

2. Resistance Training

Resistance training — often referred to as “weight training” — involves making your muscles work against a weight force. This can be anything from weight machines and free weights to resistance bands or your own body weight.

While there are obvious advantages to this exercise, such as building muscle, burning fat, improving strength and endurance, and enhancing flexibility, the short and long-term T-boosting benefits are an added bonus.

  • One study found that men who undertook resistance training 3 times a week for 4 weeks experienced increased testosterone levels immediately after the workout, and over time. 
  • Another study, meanwhile, found that one 30-minute weightlifting session improved testosterone levels by 21.6 percent.

Just remember, if you’re new to weight training, don’t dive in headfirst! Ask for guidance from a qualified trainer to ensure your form is correct, and to limit the chances of injury.

3. Bodyweight Squats, Push-Ups, Pull-Ups, Sit-Ups

As mentioned above, you don’t need specialist equipment to do resistance training. You can simply use your own weight to your advantage.

By performing bodyweight squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups, you can exercise a range of muscles across your body, growing strength and boosting testosterone.

And the best thing about these exercises? You can start at home (today!) and gradually work your way up. Consider using a fitness app to improve your form and track your progress.

A few studies even suggest that regular physical activity by older men and by men who were sedentary can be linked to higher testosterone levels.

4. Don’t Skip Leg Day

While it can be tempting to think that high testosterone levels mean big biceps (and vice-versa), this doesn’t mean that you should focus solely on upper body muscle-building exercises.

In other words, don’t skip leg day!

A study by the Institute of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics hammers this home. It split participants into an arm-only workout group and a leg-and-arm workout group, with results showing that testosterone increases were significantly higher in those exercising their lower body in addition to their upper body.

5. Rest For Longer

You may not think of rest as an exercise per se, but it’s a vitally important component of an effective workout.

And it could also have an impact on your T-levels.

Research has shown that longer rest periods — of around 120 seconds — between sets are better for raising testosterone. This makes sense as the longer you give yourself to recover, the more weight you’ll be able to lift.

Exercises to Avoid (If You Want to Boost Testosterone)

While high-intensity workouts and strength training have proven links to increased testosterone levels, there are a few exercises that have the opposite effect.

This includes endurance training, such as running or cycling for hours on end. This has been shown to increase cortisol levels while also decreasing testosterone.

Cortisol is a stress hormone, which can impact your sleep, mood, and muscle mass. However, if you get the balance right, a moderate amount of cardio can benefit your body and your mind without triggering excess cortisol production.

Other Ways to Naturally Increase Testosterone

If you have symptoms of low testosterone and you’re interested in boosting your T-levels, here are a few things you can try instead of (or in addition to) working out:

  • Take steps to reduce your stress levels, which will, in turn, reduce your cortisol levels. Doing so is helpful as when your cortisol levels go up, your testosterone levels go down.
  • Eat a healthy diet high in protein, fat, and carbs. The fuel you put in your body can have an impact on testosterone, as well as other hormones.
  • Take vitamin supplements, including vitamin B, vitamin D, and zinc. Zinc supplements, in particular, can boost testosterone levels in those who are deficient in zinc.
  • Get plenty of (good quality) sleep. Sleeping only 5 hours a night has been linked to a reduction in testosterone levels. Aim for 7 hours plus for long-term health (and testosterone) benefits.
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Key Takeaways

A healthy testosterone level is vital for your health and well-being in general. These exercises can help you naturally boost your body’s most important hormones, while also building strength, burning calories, and shedding body fat.

FAQs

What is testosterone?

Testosterone is an androgen: a hormone integral to the development of male sex organs, as well as in the growth of body hair and muscle mass, and for the libido. Testosterone is a hormone present in all genders.

Why should I increase my testosterone levels?

If you are healthy and feel well, there is no necessity for you to increase your testosterone levels. However, if you are experiencing symptoms of low testosterone, then naturally increasing testosterone levels can help with your mood, energy levels, and libido. Alternatively, you may wish to increase testosterone levels for purposes of building muscle mass.

What are the best exercises for increasing my testosterone levels?

You can naturally boost your testosterone levels with high-intensity interval training (short but intense bursts of exercise, combined with periods of rest or low-intensity exercise), weight training (including body weight squats, push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups), and longer rest periods between sets.

What exercises should I avoid if I want to increase my testosterone levels?

Whilst many exercises increase testosterone levels, there are some which have the opposite effect. Endurance training (running, rowing, or cycling for hours on end) have been proven to actually reduce testosterone levels.

References
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Babak Farzad, Reza Gharakhanlou, Hamid Agha-Alinejad, David G Curby, Mahdi Bayati, Morteza Bahraminejad, Jarek Mäestu (2011). Physiological and performance changes from the addition of a sprint interval program to wrestling training: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21849912

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Lawrence W. Weiss, Kirk J. Cureton & Frederick N. Thompson (1983). Comparison of serum testosterone and androstenedione responses to weight lifting in men and women: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00423247

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Diana Vaamonde, Marzo Edir Da Silva-Grigoletto, Juan Manuel García-Manso, Natalibeth Barrera, Ricardo Vaamonde-Lemos (2012). Physically active men show better semen parameters and hormone values than sedentary men: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22234399

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Rahman Rahimi, Mohammad Qaderi, Hassan Faraji, Saeed S Boroujerdi (2010). Effects of very short rest periods on hormonal responses to resistance exercise in men: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20555276

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Ghanbarali Raeis Jalali, Jamshid Roozbeh, Azam Mohammadzadeh, Maryam Sharifian, Mohammad Mahdi Sagheb, Alireza Hamidian Jahromi, Sanaz Shabani, Fariborz Ghaffarpasand, Raha Afshariani (2010). Impact of oral zinc therapy on the level of sex hormones in male patients on hemodialysis: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20446777

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Rachel Leproult 1, Eve Van Cauter (2011). Effect of 1 week of sleep restriction on testosterone levels in young healthy men: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21632481

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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