Testosterone is the father of all muscle-building hormones, because it promotes protein synthesis. Whether you're training to get bigger, faster, leaner, or stronger, Testosterone is the steroid hormone that can make a world of difference. Too little of it and you'll get nowhere, too much of it (synthetically) and you'll end up with some nasty side effects.
The human body doesn't like supra-physiological levels of anything, much less Testosterone. But if you maximize it naturally you'll see newfound strength, size and leanness faster than ever.
The role of Testosterone goes far beyond big biceps and a monstrous deadlift. When it's high you'll boost libido, have more energy, and protect yourself against osteoporosis. The brain loves Testosterone, too. When you have high physiological levels of T it boosts cognitive functions such as memory and attentiveness.
Of course, that means when T levels are low you're heading down a cognitive slope. Slide down far enough and you might be susceptible to all kinds of nasty neurological disorders.
So it probably doesn't warrant any real arm-twisting to convince you that you need to maximize Testosterone to reap all of the health, athletic, and aesthetic benefits you surely desire.
Here are the five steps you should follow.
1. Train with Big, Complex Movements
The simplest alteration you can make to your training program to boost Testosterone is by incorporating complex, compound movements. But not just any compound movement: the bigger, the better. A snatch is a better T-booster than a bench press; and a deadlift is much better than a one-arm dumbbell row. By recruiting more total muscle mass along with a challenging motor pattern it leads to a big metabolic stress on your body. This is the perfect formula for releasing more Testosterone.
I'm not saying you should avoid the bench press and one-arm row, but if your T levels are really lagging you'd do well to add more Olympic lifts, deadlifts and barbell squats into your routine.
Many excellent researchers such as Kraemer, Fahey, and Volek have demonstrated that complex, compound movements are more effective for boosting T levels compared to less demanding compound movements.
When and if you perform smaller, isolation exercises it's recommended that you perform them after the big, complex lifts. Since the latter boosts T levels it's postulated that you might get more out of the isolation exercises after your testes and adrenals have pumped out more Testosterone from your Olympic lifts, squats, and deadlifts.
Bottom line: incorporate variations of the snatch, clean, deadlift, and squat into the beginning of your training sessions. Follow up with isolation exercises if you do them.
2. Train with Plenty of Volume
Not only do you need complex, compound exercises to boost T levels, but you also need plenty of volume. Three reps of the snatch for one set isn't going to do much. Indeed, one set of any exercise isn't ideal. You need a sufficient number of sets. More specifically, you need a total number of reps with each lift that's high enough to maximize Testosterone without burning you out.
Research has demonstrated, time and again, that multiple sets of an exercise are better for boosting Testosterone than one set. How many sets are optimal? It depends on whom you reference. But rest assured, you need at least four sets most of the time, with more being even better.
Five sets of five is good. Ten sets of five is even better. There is, however, a point of diminishing returns. There's no need to constantly perform 20 sets of any exercise. My rule of thumb is to shoot for 30-50 total reps per compound exercise while using at least four sets to get there. Moreover, if the choice is more sets or more reps per set, choose the former.
Bottom line: perform 6-10 sets of 5-6 reps for Olympic lifts, squats, and deadlifts.
3. Train with a High Intensity
I've already discussed proper exercise selection and the need for sufficient volume, but you also must bust your ass in the gym. If you pussyfoot around with your sets you'll never boost T levels as high as they could be. You must respect the relationship between volume and intensity. If you simply focus on only one or the other you'll be relegated to either buying your wardrobe in the little boys section, or you'll waste your bank account on those metrosexual lines that are made for emaciated boys. You know, the Dolce and Gabbana look.
This is not a recommendation to train to failure. You should strain, you should focus on exploding the weights up, and you should keep the rest periods as short as possible. All of these factors will force you to work at a high intensity without wiping out your ability to produce more force in subsequent sets.
4. Consume a Carb/Protein Drink Before and After Training
You could fill a hefty tome with the research that demonstrates the benefits of a carb/protein drink taken post-workout. One of the biggest benefits is that it reduces catabolic hormones and boosts anabolic hormones. My clients never skimp out on post-workout nutrition, and they also consume one before each workout if their T levels need an even bigger boost. The simplest recommendation is to consume a serving of Plazma™ before and a service of Mag-10® after each training session.
If you don't have access to Plazma™ go for a combination of whey protein and organic raisins. Regardless, consume a drink that's easily assimilated and has a 2:1 ratio of simple carbs to complete protein.
5. Eat Enough Cholesterol
Testosterone is derived from cholesterol. There's no other way for your body to produce it naturally. So if you're skimping on cholesterol you can be certain you're short-changing one of your body's most powerful muscle-building hormones. Egg whites, petrified chicken breasts, and other foods that are basically void of any cholesterol should be avoided. A carnivorous diet is key to getting enough cholesterol.
I often have lunch with Pavel Tsatsouline in Los Angeles. I'll never forget the first time I dined with him. I ordered chicken tacos. When I ordered he shot me a menacing glare and said, "Eating chicken makes you weak." Then he went on to tell me that whole eggs are good for two reasons. First, they're excellent for helping you build muscle and strength. Second, they keep chickens from being born. (Yes, Pavel has a way with words.)
He's right. Whole eggs, beef, shrimp, cheese, and other cholesterol-rich foods are essential to maximizing Testosterone.
What about the potential health ramifications of cholesterol-rich foods? The latest research is demonstrating that we may have been dead wrong with cholesterol. There appears to be very little correlation between cholesterol intake and bad cholesterol in your blood. This is especially true when carbs are minimized (as they should be). Also, it's currently being demonstrated that people with higher cholesterol levels tend to live longer.
But don't misconstrue what I'm saying: you should not purposely seek high serum cholesterol. On the same token, you shouldn't worry about it provided you: consume organic foods, minimize starchy carbs, eat plenty of vegetables, take Flameout®, and exercise on a regular basis.
What you should be concerned about is your serum trigylceride levels. It's been demonstrated that high triglycerides are a big red flag for potential cardiovascular problems and disease. Minimize triglycerides by decreasing total carbs, by consuming omega-3s and green tea each day, and perform at least five hours of exercise each week with a mix of resistance training and energy systems work.
Putting It All Together:
A Sample Testosterone Boosting Plan
Here's a training plan that fits the bill to jack up T levels.
Loading: use the heaviest load possible for all sets without reaching failure.
|B3||Split Squat with rear leg elevated||5||6/leg||45 sec.|
|A2||Split Jerk||9||4||45 sec.|
|A||Power Snatch||10||4||1 min.|
|B1||Standing Cable Chest Press||4||8||45 sec.|
|B2||Standing Cable Row||4||8||45 sec.|
This is an excellent sample nutritional plan for a 180 pound male who trains in the early evening.
Breakfast: 4 whole eggs, 1 cup steamed broccoli, 1 cup fresh berries, 2 cups green tea, 3 Flameout® capsules
- Snack: 3 ounces cheese, 1 apple
- Lunch: 6 ounces salmon with spinach salad
- Snack: 3 ounces turkey breast with a handful of mixed nuts
- Pre-workout: 1 serving Plazma™
- Post-workout: 1 serving Mag-10®
- Dinner: 4 ounces lean beef, 2 cups asparagus, 3 Flameout capsules
- Snack: 2 scoops low-carb Metabolic Drive® Protein with 1 tablespoon natural peanut spread on celery stalks
If you're experiencing symptoms of low Testosterone such as a decreased libido, low cognition, less muscle mass, and higher body fat (just to name a few) get your total and free Testosterone levels checked by your doctor. An adult T-man should have a natural total Testosterone level of at least 800 ng/dL. This plan will help you get there.