One of the hottest subjects in men’s health these days is low testosterone levels and given the increased use of synthetic testosterone in both amateur and professional sports, testosterone is becoming a highly talked about subject in many circles. As I enter into my mid 30’s I too have become more concerned with the potential of decreasing testosterone in my body. There are no shortage of dietary and sports supplements on the market these days that promote large claims promising to increase testosterone levels and reverse the effects of aging in us guys.
They claim to promote lean muscle mass, fat loss, increased sexual performance and more energy. As with most sports supplements out there, I am weary of not only the claims, but as to whether these chemically produced products are even remotely safe to consume. Most supplements end up being flushed out of the body relatively quickly and you typically only end up with some pretty expensive urine, not bulging muscles and six-pack abs.
So I decided to look into some ways to naturally increase testosterone production, both through types of workouts and from a nutritional standpoint. So let’s start with the type of training that men should be doing in order to produce higher levels of testosterone. A 1998 research study published in the “Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research” found that performing heavy resistance training increases testosterone levels in males for up to 2 hours after a workout. Exercises that target large muscle groups such as bench presses, squats, dead-lifts, power cleans, military presses and leg presses are all highly effective movements you should work into your training plans.
In terms of repetitions, I shoot for 4-10 reps per exercise for 3-4 sets, while increasing the weight for each subsequent set. The final set should be taken close to failure by the fourth repetition. You should include one to two compound exercises (like those listed above) into each workout and then add another 2-3 isolating type exercises into the mix, totally 4-5 total movements per body part. Isolating exercises are those movements that target a specific muscle or group, such as leg extensions (quadriceps) or bicep curls (biceps).
One thing to keep in mind in terms of training is to make certain that you get an adequate amount of rest in between workouts. Shoot for 8 hours of sleep per night (if you have a life like mine that can be a real challenge) and I suggest only lifting weights 4 times per week, meaning you will have 3 full days each week to recover from heavy lifting. It is during the recovery phase that the muscles repair themselves and increase in both size and strength. Over-training can cause the body to produce and release an excess of Cortisol, which lowers testosterone. Napping has also been shown to increase the release of growth hormone, which also helps build lean muscle mass and decrease body fat.
In addition to training, certain types of foods and nutrients have been linked to increased testosterone levels in males. Zinc is important in the natural production of testosterone because of its ability to prevent it from being converted into estrogen. In fact, it has been demonstrated that zinc can convert estrogen into testosterone. Both seafood and nuts are high in zinc content. A quality multivitamin will provide you with an adequate amount of zinc and keep in mind that it is possible to take too much zinc which can lead to health risk. One early sign that you might be consuming too much zinc is a chronic dry mouth and a slight metallic taste in the mouth. Research has also found that eating healthy fats increases the natural production of testosterone.