The Testosterone Boosting Workout

How to Train to Increase Your T Levels

The Post-Training Testosterone Enigma

Testosterone levels peak around 30 minutes post-exercise and return to baseline by the one-hour mark. Now, will that temporary boost in testosterone from a high intensity workout result in significant muscle growth? That's the big question.

But let's shoot at this target from a different angle. If I outlined two resistance-training programs, one that produced a 15% increase in testosterone post-exercise and another that resulted in a 100% increase, you'd likely choose the one that gave your natural T levels a bigger boost, even if the boost was short lived.

The fact is, men who lift weights have higher resting levels of testosterone than men who don't push iron. Whether that increase comes from a cascade of hormonal events due to the temporary boost of testosterone post-exercise, or other physiological processes, is unclear. Even though scientists currently don't agree on how much of a difference that temporary boost will make, it makes sense that higher levels of testosterone can only help, so why not train in a way that has the most significant effect on boosting T?

The science comes from reputable research, not just any study printed in a random journal. Additionally, this type of training is backed by real-world data, the stuff we learn from the top trainers in the field who constantly mix and match different training parameters to figure out what works best to build muscle.

From the science side of things, E. Todd Schroeder, Ph.D., is one of the world's foremost authorities on the relationship between resistance training and testosterone. For over a decade, Dr. Schroeder has used his exercise physiology lab at the University of Southern California to analyze and measure changes in testosterone during and after resistance training.

Dr. Schroeder has found three key factors for maximizing testosterone release with resistance training. I'll translate his T-boosting principles into quantitative training parameters:

  1. Train large muscle groups. Train compound movements – no isolation exercises.
  2. Lift heavy. Train with a 6-8 repetition maximum (RM) for six sets.
  3. Use short rest periods. Rest one minute between straight sets.

You need to stress your body to get the biggest testosterone surge. This is why you hear reputable strength coaches emphasize the importance of working hard while training. There's a time and place for training with lower levels of intensity, but when it comes to boosting the almighty T, go hard or don't go at all.

I've experimented with this type of training over the last six months... and it's exhausting! This training is only for the dedicated folks that are willing to put in the work to kick up testosterone as high as possible.

After some initial trial and error, I hit upon some key guidelines to help you get the most out of this style of hypertrophy training while minimizing the mind-numbing fatigue it can create:

1. Choose three multi-joint exercises.

Any combination of an upper body pull, upper body push, and a lower body compound exercise will work. Choosing four exercises, however, results in a workout that's too long. An intense 20-30 minutes of training is all that's required to escalate your T.

2. Rest one minute between sets of an exercise.

Rest five minutes between exercises. You'll perform six straight sets of one exercise with 60 seconds of rest between each set. At the end of the sixth set you'll be very fatigued, so rest five full minutes to give your central nervous system (CNS) some relief before you move to the next exercise.

3. The first set starts with a load you can lift 8-9 times.

The trickiest part of this style of training is getting the loads dialed in. The sweet spot seems to be a load that's as close to a 9RM as possible. From there, do your damnedest to get at least 6 reps per set. (If you get 8-9 reps on the next five sets, you either started too light or you're resting longer than one minute.) Once you drop to 5 reps, decrease the load and continue until all six sets are finished. Do your best to avoid missing a rep. If your fifth rep was brutal, don't try for a sixth because it'll take too much out of you. The intensity must be high but manageable.

4. Rest 48 hours between each workout.

Low intensity conditioning work can be performed on the off days.

5. Use different exercises in each workout throughout the week.

This is an essential part of keeping your recovery in check. If you use the same three exercises for all three workouts during the week, you'll be burnt out by week 2.

6. "Meditate" for 12 minutes within an hour after each workout.

Yes, meditate. This step is crucial because it's probably the most effective thing you can do to expedite CNS recovery. To "meditate" you only need to sit in a quiet room, clear your head, and focus on a slow, deep breathing pattern for 12 minutes – the amount of time research has shown to relieve CNS stress. (If you're doubtful of the power of this technique, check out the research Elizabeth Stanley, Ph.D. has performed on soldiers with PTSD.)

Mark Dugdale

Use the above training principles to create a training plan that consists of the exercises you prefer (since there are countless options that will work here). With that in mind, here's a sample routine that will build new muscle mass over your entire body.

Workout 1

Warm-up: Rope skipping for 30 seconds followed by 30 seconds of jumping jacks. Rest 30 seconds and repeat for 3 rounds.


  1. Hammer-Grip Pull-Up
  2. Standing Cable Chest Press
  3. Reverse Lunge (do all reps for one leg, no rest, then the other leg)
  • Sets: 6
  • Reps: Around 6-8 per set
  • Load: The first set begins with a load you can lift 8-9 times. Do your best to keep the load as high as possible in subsequent sets.
  • Rest: One minute between straight sets, 5 minutes between exercises
  • Meditation: 12 minutes

Workout 2 (48 hours later)

Warm-up: Same as workout 1.


  1. One-Arm Dumbbell Row (no rest between arms)
  2. Dip From Rings
  3. Romanian Deadlift
  • Sets: 6
  • Reps: 6-8 per set
  • Load: The first set begins with a load you can lift 8-9 times. Again, do your best to keep the load as heavy as possible in subsequent sets.
  • Rest: One minute between straight sets, 5 minutes between exercises
  • Meditation: 12 minutes

Workout 3 (48 hours later)

Warm-up: Same as workout 1.


  1. Overhand Grip Pull-Up From Rings, Arms Wide
  2. Standing Dumbbell Shoulder Press
  3. Goblet Squat
  • Sets: 6
  • Reps: 6-8 per set
  • Load: The first set begins with a load you can lift 8-9 times. Keep the load as high as possible in the next 5 sets.
  • Rest: One minute between straight sets, 5 minutes between exercises.
  • Meditation: 12 minutes

Stay on this program until results stop or you lose your motivation. If either of those things happens, it's time to move on or take a hard look at getting your nutrition, stress, and sleep dialed in. Due to the intensity of this type of training, workout supplementation, such as Surge® Workout Fuel, is a must.

If you're wondering what you can add to this program, it's hard to answer because it depends on your recovery. However, if you need to add more muscle to, say, your calves, you could definitely add a calf-training program in the mix. You could also throw in 100 light side raises at the end of each workout to add more muscle mass to your lateral deltoids. Beyond those two body parts, this plan will build everything else you need.

  1. Schroeder ET et al. Are acute post-resistance exercise increases in testosterone, growth hormone, and IGF-1 necessary to stimulate skeletal muscle anabolism and hypertrophy? Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013 Nov;45(11):2044-51. PubMed.