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Exercises That Boost Testosterone Levels

Not everyone is doomed to low testosterone. In fact there's quite a lot you can do to raise testosterone levels naturally.


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As men begin to age testosterone levels start to decline. Typically speaking testosterone production decreases at about 1% every year after the age of 30[1]. Low testosterone can be catastrophic for men’s health. Resulting in everything from mood swings, brain fog, loss of libido and perhaps worst loss of lean muscle mass and weight gain which further reduces testosterone production making matters worse. And seeing as the process can be quite slow, a lot of people simply chalk the issues up to old age and never even thing to check their testosterone levels.

That doesn’t mean that everyone is doomed to low testosterone. In fact there’s quite a lot you can do to raise testosterone levels naturally, and if done correctly, you could actually have more free testosterone into old age than you had in your twenties. Free testosterone levels are the most important part of this, that is to say it’s the amount of testosterone that isn’t being negated by estrogen. If you’re not sure about your testosterone levels, postal testosterone test kits are readily available in the US.

Does Exercise Increase Testosterone Levels?

Exercise does in fact boost testosterone levels, although not in all cases, in fact if you exercise to a point where your body fat percentage is actually too low, you’ll lower testosterone levels, although this is relatively unlikely for the average person as we are talking about single digit body fat percentages usually in the realm of body builders preparing for a competition.

The reality is that it’s not so much the exercise itself that causes much of an increase in testosterone, although it will cause some improvement, albeit insubstantial. As such there are four main ways in which exercise will improve testosterone production. And which is most effective for you is going to depend on what is currently causing low testosterone.

The first and most effective for most people is weight loss. With the most common cause of low testosterone being obesity losing weight will result in an increase in testosterone. As such if you fall into this camp you will want to look

Secondly we have stress, the stress hormone cortisol, can have a massive impact on testosterone levels, exercising in and of itself will release endorphins and reduce a build up of stress hormones. Getting more and a better quality of sleep can also help here.

Coming in third is volume of lean muscle mass. The long and short of it is, more muscle means more testosterone production.

Fourth is the action of exercising itself, which has a marginally beneficial improvement, although the effects don’t last too long. The effect seems to be improved in group settings, although this could also be due to the fact people simply train harder in these circumstances. But, these impacts can be amplified further in group or sporting activities, there are added benefits to winning. Believe it or not that can actually make a difference of an average of a 5%[2] increase in serum testosterone levels, but losing could actually reduce testosterone levels.

Lastly, is exercising outdoors, in this case there’s the added benefit of Vitamin D absorption, around half of men in the USA are deficient in Vit D and correcting for this can raise testosterone levels by around 46%[3].

The Best Work Outs To Increase Testosterone Levels

With all of the above factors in mind, we’ve broken down the best exercises for testosterone into what you should do, depending on your current state of health.

The Best Workouts To Increase Testosterone For Overweight And Obese Men

For overweight and obese men the fastest way to improve testosterone levels is going to be to lose fat, and improve body composition. Depending on what weight you’re starting at this could either be more focused on direct weight loss. That’s going to depend on whether you’re slightly overweight or whether you’re obese and need to lose the weight more rapidly. Either way there are some extra considerations, especially around the cardio element of the work out program.

In this case, we’re going to want a mix of steady state cardio and weight training, with 60 to 70% of the activity being aimed at cardio. Now, this isn’t as scary as it sounds. We’re not talking about hours on the treadmill. In fact that would be a terrible idea. We’re talking about walking. Yes, just walking. Avoid any high intensity interval training (hiit) like the plague. It will put unnecessary strain on joints and is not the most effective for burning calories. The way calorie burning works is that it’s energy. It takes a finite amount of energy to move 1kg of mass 1m. As a nice rule of thumb for every hour you spend walking on a flat surface you burn about 1.5 calories per lb of body weight. That doesn’t sound like a lot at first, but uphill and hiking this nearly doubles. Increased speed however, aka jogging, only improves caloric burn by half this much, and most people can’t jog consistently for one hour. But, most of us can manage a one hour walk, with the intention of building up to a hike every couple of weeks that we can enjoy. If you mix this activity with a calorie deficit of around 500 calories a day, you can expect to lose 1lb of fat per week. More than this will likely depress your testosterone further.

Mixing all of this walking and hiking with even a home upper body workout lifting weights once or twice a week for just 20-30 minutes should be enough to get you into good shape. That doesn’t mean you need loads of equipment, simply adjustable dumbbells should be enough. Although if you want to go to a gym and do a more complex workout that’s great too. For the workout we’d recommend once a week working shoulders and back and once a week focusing on chest.

To make sure you maximise the effectiveness you’ll want to lift the most weight you can comfortably for 8-12 repetitions before moving up by the smallest increase possible and lowering the reps. If you have to do less than this that’s fine as well.

On shoulders day we recommend:

2 sets of overhead press, 2 sets of reverse flys, 2 sets of lateral raises, 2 sets of dumbbell rows, 2 sets of front raises. building up to 3 sets over time. Don’t worry if you can only do 1 set the first time, aim to build up to 1 and a half and so on.

As for chest it’s always a little bit more difficult to do without a bench, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. As such we recommend:

2 sets of press ups (whichever version you can do, if kneeling is needed that’s OK), 2 sets of floor dumbbell presses, 2 sets of svend presses (you’ll have to google this one) and 2 sets of floor flys. You can do a lot more with a bench available, but we’re focusing on making sure that you can workout at home as it’s a lot easier with a set routine. We also recommend setting specific days when you always do it, to make it easier to stick to the routine of weight lifting twice a week. If you find you enjoy it, and a lot of people do, you can repeat these routines twice a week, just make sure you give each muscle group a full 48 hours to rest before repeating the resistance training. But, if you do stick to this it won’t just be boosting testosterone levels that has you feeling better, odds are you’ll look better and feel younger either way.

The Best Workouts To Boost Testosterone Levels In Otherwise Healthy Men

The best workouts to help otherwise healthy men increase testosterone levels are those that lead to the highest increase in lean muscle mass. Unfortunately for a lot of people reading this, that does mean not skipping the infamous leg day. Resistance training focused on the largest muscle groups is going to have the most overall effect on free testosterone levels.

Weight training in general is a good option for everyone, as previously mentioned more lean muscle mass leads to higher serum testosterone levels, making weight training a sure-fire way for everyone to boost testosterone.

If you have time to hit the gym 5-6 days a week, then odds are you’re probably hitting most if not every muscle group, which is going to be the most effective way to increase testosterone, however if you only manage to go twice a week, then the focus should be on the largest muscle groups and the big compound movements when planning your resistance training. This isn’t just going to help with body composition, but make sure that as many of your muscles as possible are able to continue to progress.

For healthy men who don’t have much time for the gym

As we’ve mentioned you’re going to want to focus on the big compound movements. If you can only manage two days a week that’s fine, but we’re going to need to try and get everything we can out of these sessions.

We’re going to suggest hitting chest and lower back on one day and shoulders, arms and upper back together.

Chest is going to be 3 sets of chest press, 3 sets of flys and 2 sets of hex press. The lower back is going to be 3 sets of deadlifts, 3 sets of squats, 3 sets of hip thrusts and 2 sets of leg press. You can either break the session in to two halves, or alternate a lower body set with a chest set to reduce rest time if the gym is a bit quieter. Reps should ideally be in the 8-12 range. This is going to be pretty intense training if done correctly. If you’ve got some extra time, feel free to add in some dumbbell pullovers. Normally more than 20 sets would be too much if you’re only training one muscle group, but if you’re splitting the muscle groups it should be ok to split the resistance training. A work out like this should last for about 1 hour to 1 and a half hours.

Shoulders and upper back is going probably require a bit of working up to. You will be aiming to effectively do 3 sets of pullups, which can take some time. But the overall breakdown is, 3 sets of pullups, 3 sets of overhead press, 3 sets of lateral raises, 3 sets of triceps extensions, 3 sets of barbell rows, 3 sets of front raises and 3 sets of bicep curls (we know they’re not technically shoulders or back, but we had to fit them in somewhere).

That should cover a full training regimen. If you can get some weights at home, feel free to split it over an extra day as a lot of these exercises can be done with dumbbells.

For healthy men who love the gym

Come on, you know what to do. Stop skipping leg day and make sure that hit everywhere on the body. Focus on progressive overload to stimulate more growth hormone production and boosting testosterone as a result.

The Best Workouts To Lower Stress Hormone Levels.

Perhaps not the most exciting exercise, but it’s actually a 10 minute walk. Ideally for longer, but, according to the ADAA a 10 minute walk can be just as effective for restoring calm as longer more intense exercise. In general walking, particularly in nature, with one study showing that 20 minutes spent in the outdoors walking could raise testosterone levels by up to 150%.

In short if stress is what’s killing you T levels, then the best thing to do, is get a 20 minute walk in every day, ideally in the evening to help improve sleep quality, or first thing in the morning to set your day up well, with a longer walk once or twice a week. This is also a good option for people who are very overweight.

Other low intensity exercises can be quite useful, anything from yoga to thai chi can be beneficial in these circumstance rather than focusing on maximal aerobic exercise, steady state endurance exercise which you can maintain without having to take long rest periods will be most effective.

When Exercise Doesn’t Boost Testosterone Levels

As we mentioned earlier, if you’re at a low body fat percentage, further reduction will depress testosterone production, overtraining can also hamper this, and heavy training whilst in a caloric deficit can also cause a drop in testosterone levels, but it can also decrease lean muscle mass. Too great of a calorie deficit will also cause testosterone levels to decrease. So, if you are training hard, you will need to make sure that even if your goal is weight loss you keep it to a healthy rate. Generally it is recommended that you try to keep a calorie deficit within 500 calories a day of maintenance to maintain muscle mass. We also suggest you don’t waste time with high intensity interval training, it doesn’t do much to grow muscle, and thus not a lot to increase serum testosterone, it’s a bit of a fad, and not nearly as effective as normal weight lifting for producing growth hormone.

Diet To Improve Testosterone

Overeating certain food can lower testosterone levels, whilst normal consumption of products like soy are unlikely to have any impact, daily consumption of soy based protein shakes, could however lead to some reduction in testosterone[4]. Certain mineral and vitamin deficiencies can also cause issues, as we’ve mentioned already, vitamin D is a huge factor, but zinc deficiency can also cause low testosterone. As a rule of thumb making sure you hit your RDI’s should help improve testosterone levels in most men.

Other Things That Boost Testosterone Levels

Aside from diet, exercise, testosterone replacement therapy there are several herbal & natural ways to boost testosterone, including everything from ginseng, through to ashwagandha. On top of that there’s also quite a few more unexpected ways to improve testosterone levels, with everything from the testosterone boosting effects of cold showers through to the changing the type of alcohol you consume.


1 – Testosterone for the aging male; current evidence and recommended practice

2 – – ‘Believing you’re a winner’ gives men a testosterone boost and promiscuous disposition

3 – -Effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone levels in men

4 – – Soy protein isolates of varying isoflavone content exert minor effects on serum reproductive hormones in healthy young men

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