Testosterone can be used to boost strength, as it impacts muscle production and health in both men and women. A normal level of testosterone can aid in weight loss and muscle mass, alongside a balanced diet and exercise. If you do not have enough testosterone, you may need to get TRT (Testosterone Replacement Therapy).
Below we look at the role of testosterone in more detail and how you can increase your testosterone levels.
What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone produced naturally by the body that plays an important role in maintaining and developing male sexual characteristics and is known as an androgen. Testosterone is most commonly known for affecting men during puberty. As male testosterone levels increase during their teens, it can cause a change in voice and an increase in face and body hair.
The hormone also plays a crucial role in the production of sperm and influences libido in both sexes. In men, testosterone is mainly produced in the testes. In women, testosterone is produced in the ovaries. Small quantities of the hormone are also produced in the adrenal glands, for both men and women.
Testosterone also plays an important role in the growth and maintenance of muscle mass and bone density, meaning it can help boost your strength. The levels of testosterone in your body can be affected by many things, including age, medical conditions, stress, and diet. If you do not have enough testosterone, this could lead to health problems such as decreased libido, infertility, and osteoporosis (weak, fragile bones).
How Does Testosterone Help Build Muscle?
Testosterone is responsible for many functions in the body relating to muscle mass, such as:
● Stimulating muscle growth through binding to proteins in your muscles, known as androgen receptors. This increases muscle protein synthesis, which is the process by which cells build new proteins.
● Increasing the rate at which your muscle cells repair and grow following a workout, which contributes to an increase in muscle size and strength.
● Reducing the breakdown of muscle tissue, which can occur during certain types of exercise like cardio and other physical activities.
● Increasing the production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a growth hormone that promotes the repair and growth of muscle tissue.
Whilst testosterone can play a significant part in building and maintaining muscle mass, there are many other factors involved. Testosterone will work best when used alongside regular exercise, a healthy and balanced diet, and adequate rest and recovery.
What are the Benefits of Increasing Testosterone Levels?
Boosting testosterone levels can have many benefits, especially for people looking to lose fat and build muscle mass. The benefits of increasing testosterone levels include:
● Leaner body and an increase in muscle size and strength
● Lower risk of weak bones or osteoporosis
● Healthier heart and blood (as testosterone helps red blood cell production)
● Increase in libido, which can help with conditions like erectile dysfunction (ED)
● Improved mood
● Better verbal memory and thinking abilities
Natural Ways to Increase Testosterone Levels
If you are looking to boost your testosterone levels, there are many ways you can do this naturally. Below we look at how you can begin to increase your testosterone levels through diet, exercise, sleep, and herbal supplements.
Diet and Nutrition
What we eat has a significant impact on our body and the health of your body directly correlates with hormone production. If you eat a healthy, balanced diet, your body will have a much easier time producing testosterone at a normal level. If you eat poorly, this can harm your testosterone levels.
As well as eating healthily and getting the right nutrition for your current fitness goals, there are a few foods you can add to your diet to naturally increase testosterone. This includes foods like turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, mustard, and kale. These foods can help lower oestrogen levels (a female hormone), which will raise testosterone levels.
Exercise and Weight Training
Testosterone levels will increase briefly after exercise, especially if this is intense or heavy weight training. This is different for each person, but your testosterone can increase for around 15 minutes to an hour after lifting weights.
Obesity can also affect hormone production, so exercise and weight training can benefit both your waistline and testosterone levels. All exercise can increase your testosterone levels, but strength training has the biggest effect. To get the best results, you should:
● Have shorter rest periods between lifts
● Use more muscles (working out many muscle groups will increase testosterone more than only exercising one muscle, such as the biceps)
● Lifting heavier weights with fewer reps
Sleep and Stress Management
A common reason for low testosterone levels is poor quality sleep or not enough sleep. When our body doesn’t get enough rest, it struggles to work as it should and this can impact the production of hormones. To increase your testosterone levels naturally, look at getting enough rest each night for your activity levels.
A good rule of thumb is around 8 to 10 hours of sleep. You can improve sleep quality by limiting noise and light during sleeping hours and avoiding screens, food, and alcohol close to bedtime.
Stress is another reason for low testosterone levels, as well as negatively impacting sleep quality and weight. Being able to reduce your stress levels and handle stress effectively will improve your overall health. Stress can be managed by removing unnecessary stressors from your life, exercising, getting outside regularly, getting enough sleep, and having a good self-care routine. If you are struggling with stress and your mental health, speak to your doctor.
There are several herbal supplements available that are thought to naturally increase testosterone. Supplements can also be used to improve your overall health, which also plays a part in the natural production of testosterone. Always do your research before using a herbal supplement for boosting testosterone production.
Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT)
TRT is a medical treatment for men who have low testosterone levels. It can be prescribed if your testosterone levels are below normal and you are noticing symptoms such as tiredness, low libido, decreased muscle strength, and a change in mood.
The most common form of testosterone replacement therapy is an injection, but you can also be prescribed patches, tablets, and gels. TRT can restore testosterone levels to a normal range, which will alleviate symptoms and improve muscle mass and strength.
Who Should Consider TRT?
Testosterone replacement therapy should only be prescribed if you have low testosterone levels, and you should only get TRT from a trusted healthcare provider.
Potential Side Effects of TRT
Like any medical treatment, there are a few potential side effects of using testosterone replacement therapy, such as:
● Worsening sleep apnoea
● Higher red blood cell count
● Breast soreness or swelling
● Testicle shrinkage
● Infertility (caused by a low sperm count)
● Prostate disorders
If you have low testosterone levels, TRT benefits usually outweigh the risk of side effects. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should speak to your healthcare provider straight away.
Evidence Based Research on TRT and Muscle Building
There is a lot of research into the benefits of TRT and building muscle mass which is still ongoing. For example, this study published in 2020 found that long-term TRT helped elderly men with low testosterone levels to increase muscle mass. Another study from 2018 found that intramuscular TRT (TRT injections) can increase total body strength and improve muscle mass.
Although TRT can help with muscle production, it cannot build muscle for you. To get the most from TRT, you must do the work and follow a weight training exercise plan.
Testing for Low Testosterone Levels
If you are looking to boost your strength, you may want to check your testosterone levels. You can do this with a testosterone home test kit or by visiting a doctor. This will check the levels of testosterone in your blood.
Testosterone plays a vital part in boosting strength and building lean body mass and muscle, but it can only help if you put in the work. You can lower body fat and achieve normal testosterone levels naturally through things like correct nutrition and stress management, or you can get TRT. To get the most from your testosterone therapy, make sure you stick to an exercise regime which includes cardio and weight training, to minimise weight gain.