Top 6 Exercises to Boost Testosterone9/1/19
Testosterone is the holy grail of hormones when it comes to building muscle.
With high levels of testosterone, comes the ability to:
- Gain muscle quicker
- Lose fat easier
- Have greater energy, vigor, and vitality
- Have greater confidence, strength, and assertiveness
Experience the best sex of your life
Unfortunately, men’s natural testosterone levels begin a slow and steady decline beginning around age 30, with most men experiencing a decrease of 1-2% per year as they age.
Why is this a problem?
Low testosterone levels are associated with feelings of low energy, reduced libido, impaired concentration, and greater fatigue. To make matters worse, low testosterone is also linked to reduced muscle gain, increased muscle loss, and greater fat gain.
Basically, everything you wouldn’t want to happen as you age will happen as your testosterone drops lower and lower each year.
And, while you may not be able to completely prevent the natural decline in this man-making hormone (short of going on TRT), there are a number of lifestyle changes you can implement to help keep your natural testosterone levels as high as possible for as long as possible.
Included in the things you can do to keep testosterone levels high are limiting stress, getting enough sleep, avoiding very low-fat diets, and maintaining favorable body composition.
Part of maintaining a healthy body composition is training hard and dieting right. Today, we’re going to review some of our favorite exercises to help build muscle, burn fat, and boost testosterone.
Best 6 Exercises to Boost Testosterone
One thing all of the exercises on this list have in common (in addition to helping boost testosterone) is that they all qualify among the best exercises to build muscle and strength.
Leading off this list is none other than the “king” of all exercises — the squat.
What makes squats such a phenomenal muscle-building exercise and natural testosterone booster is that they work a tremendous amount of muscle on the body. In addition to heavily working the quads and glutes, squats also stimulate muscle fibers in your upper and lower back as well as your core. Your arms and shoulders are also involved to a certain degree as they have to steady the bar on your back as you squat the weight up and down.
Now, most guys would easily bypass leg day in favor of an extra session for chest and/or arms, and let’s be honest, we all love getting a pump in our chest and arms. But, if for no other reason than you should prioritize leg training, do it for your testosterone levels!
For further proof that you need to squat, consider this study from the University of Texas which found that performing squats led to greater testosterone and growth hormone production than leg pressing.
Of all the exercises to give squats a run for their money as the “king” of exercises, the only one that comes remotely close is the deadlift.
Similar to squats, deadlifts a formidable muscle-building, testosterone-boosting exercise because they recruit muscles from head to toe.
A study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that performing heavy deadlifts led to significant elevations in testosterone levels of college-aged men.
Now, while we most often think about performing conventional deadlifts, the truth is that there are a number of different deadlift alternatives you can perform.
One of our top alternative deadlift options is the trap bar deadlift. The benefit of the trap bar deadlift is that it allows you to maintain a more upright torso throughout the movement and keeps the weight more evenly centered. Conventional deadlifts place the weight in front of you and place greater strain on the lower back than the trap bar deadlift.
Clean & Press
To create the greatest amount of homeostatic disruption (and ultimately elicit the greatest increase in natural testosterone levels), you need to perform exercises that work a large amount of skeletal muscle tissue.
The clean and press easily qualify as another total body muscle builder as it hits the legs, back, arms, shoulders, and core all at once. Furthermore, the clean and press also help develop speed, explosiveness, and power thanks to the raw, untamed power you have to deliver in order to move the bar from the ground to overhead.
Due to the complexity of this exercise, the clean & press is best reserved for intermediate or advanced lifters who have already built a good deal of muscle and strength with more “stationary” exercises like the squat, deadlift, and overhead press.
Speaking of the overhead press, this is another one of the best exercises around to boost testosterone levels.
While you might think the overhead press is nothing more than a shoulder exercise, the truth is that it is another compound exercise that works everything from your head to your feet.
When performing the standing overhead press, your arms and shoulders are responsible for the pushing, but your legs, back, and core must work just as hard to keep you upright while you move the weight up overhead and back down.
Pull-ups, commonly referred to as “squats” for the upper body, may qualify as the best exercise for your entire upper body. While the exercise relies heavily on the muscles of the upper back (lats and rhomboids) and arms, pull-ups also tax your chest, shoulders, traps, and core. Plus, your glutes and quads also get worked as you must keep them tense during the movement. By not keeping your body tight, you’re “leaking” energy from your kinetic chain which limits the amount of force you can apply to the bar and the overall amount of pull-ups you can do.
The final reason we love pull-ups is that it can be performed anywhere, just like all the other great bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, dips, lunges, and squats.
High-Intensity Interval Training
In addition to all of the resistance-training exercises that we’ve listed, one final “exercise” (or rather style of exercise) you can perform is high-intensity interval training, or HIIT for short.
Numerous studies have shown that brief periods of all-out, intense cardiovascular effort are superior to less intense, steady-state cardio in terms of its impact on testosterone as well as other important sex hormones, such as growth hormone.[3,4]
The reason for this is that high-intensity interval training impacts the same metabolic pathways that resistance-training with heavyweights does. As an added bonus, HIIT burns just as many calories as steady-state cardio, but can be completed in a fraction of the time!
Avoiding low-fat fad diets, lifting heavy weights, getting enough sleep (7-9 hours), and reducing stress are the pillars of maximizing natural testosterone production. But for those looking to take things to the next level, 1UP Nutrition has created Pro Test Max.
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- Shaner, A.A., Vingren, J.L., Hatfield, D.L. et al. The acute hormonal response to free weight and machine weight resistance exercise. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 2014, 28, 4, 1032–1040.
- Loebel, C. C., & Kraemer, W. J. (1998). Testosterone and Resistance Exercise in Men. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 12(1).
- Timon Andrada, R., Maynar Marino, M., Munoz Marin, D., Olcina Camacho, G. J., Caballero, M. J., & Maynar Marino, J. I. (2007). Variations in urine excretion of steroid hormones after an acute session and after a 4-week programme of strength training. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 99(1), 65–71. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-006-0319-1
- Hackney, A. C., Hosick, K. P., Myer, A., Rubin, D. A., & Battaglini, C. L. (2012). Testosterone responses to intensive interval versus steady-state endurance exercise. Journal of Endocrinological Investigation, 35(11), 947–950. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03346740