Testosterone is a natural hormone found in the body that is vital for muscle growth, bone strength, energy, and sexual function.
Ever since scientists were able to chemically synthesize testosterone in a laboratory setting, it’s uses have ranged from therapeutic to performance-enhancing. The misuse of exogenous testosterone amongst high-level athletes has caused people to misconstrue it’s intended purpose . It is true that exogenous testosterone has been proven to increase muscle mass, improve recovery time, and burn fat, but it has also been linked to a variety of serious side effects including, but not limiting to, liver disease, depression, and a decrease in sperm production. Our natural levels of testosterone begin to diminish around the age of 30, but a proper diet coupled with high-intensity training (workouts that are short in duration but performed with high intensity) will help combat hormone deficiency.
Since the body is forced to release testosterone when working out major muscles groups like the leg muscles (quadriceps, gluteus maximus hamstrings), the back muscles (trapezius, latissimus dorsi, and rhomboids), and the chest muscles (pectoralis major, pectoralis minor), working out these major muscles will immediately increase your natural levels of testosterone. So before you begin Testosterone-Replacement-Therapy like Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, and Frank Mir have, take advantage of these five exercises that have been proven to help increase your natural levels of testosterone:
Sprinting is an exercise that not only increases the natural levels of testosterone already found in the body, but it also increases the proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers. Numerous studies have shown that sprinting for as little as six-seconds significantly increases testosterone levels, and that those levels remain elevated long after a person has recovered from their workout. For optimal results, incorporate sprints into your workout 2-3 days a week. If it’s your first time sprinting, start off with 5 sets of 10-second sprints. Once you’ve developed the proper technique and feel comfortable after a few sprint workouts, gradually increase your intensity maxing out at 10-15 sets of 30-second sprints. Remember to give yourself ample time to recovered between sets, generally 4 times longer than the actual sprint itself.
Squats are known to build major muscles in your legs, specifically the quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings. Squats can be done with added weight or by just using your own body weight. If you chose to start with your own bodyweight, focus on more reps than sets. For example, start off with 3 sets of 10 high-intense reps. As you become stronger and start to build up muscle endurance, gradually increase reps until you can do 1 set of 100 body squats in a row in under 2 minutes. If you want to increase the strength of your legs, start doing squats with added weight. Uses an Olympic sized barbell (44 lbs) and place it across your upper back and shoulders with your feet shoulder width apart. Make sure to focus on proper technique to avoid injuries. Once you develop the proper squatting technique, gradually increase the weight. Start with 3 sets of 10 reps and as you add weight, decrease your number of reps until you max out. Take a 2-minute break in between sets. If you do decide to add weight, keep in mind that intensity is key, so only continue to add weight until your intensity is compromised.
3. Hang Cleans
This Olympic style lift with help build explosive power and is not for the amateur lifter. Although this exercise uses both upper and lower body muscle groups, its primary focus is on the legs, specifically the quadriceps. Hang cleans not only boost your natural levels of testosterone, but they help build strength and lean muscle while burning body fat. This workout’s primary focus is form; so before adding hang cleans to your workout routine, make sure you educate yourself in order to develop the proper technique. Once you have established the proper form and technique, start off with 3 sets of 6-12 reps. This is an average hang clean workout, but I would recommend using lighter weights and increasing both the reps and intensity. Try lowering the weight and doing 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps with short rests in between lifts. This will certainly increase testosterone levels while burning fat and developing dense and explosive muscle.
Pull-ups are a great exercise for targeting the latissimus dorsi, the rhomboids, and a variety of other back and arm muscles. Working your back muscles is a great way to build upper-body strength and increase your natural levels of testosterone. While doing pull-ups, try not to swing or kip your body in order to complete a pull up. Instead, grab the bar (palms facing away), start from a dead hang while bending your knees to help avoid any type of swaying, and quickly pull-up your own body weight until your chin has cleared the bar. Always begin by focusing on technique. Once technique has been developed, try to complete as many reps as you can in 30 sec. Take a 2-minute break and repeat for a total of 4 sets.
5. Bench Press
Bench press is an exercise that focuses on the pectoral muscles while also incorporating the biceps and triceps. Again, the focus is on intensity. Start of with just the barbell and do as many reps as possible. Take a 2-minute break, add some weight, and do as many reps as possible. Take one more 2-minute break, add a little more weight, and do as many reps as physically possible. Your routine should look something like this, 1 set of 40 reps with just the barbell, 1 set of 25 reps adding minimal weight, and 1 set of 15 reps adding moderate weight. Always focus on form until you develop the proper technique, and then keep increasing the intensity. Bench press is another exercise that will increase your upper-body strength while also increasing your natural levels of testosterone.
All these exercises can be performed in less than 15 minutes each. Therefore, try to do at least two of these exercises during your workout routine, with the exception of sprints (do sprints by themselves). After you become efficient at each exercises, try to do all these exercises together for a workout routine that will take you less than an hour and will work both the upper and lower body giving you a full-body workout. Every workout listed above has been proven to increase your natural levels of testosterone, while building lean muscle and burning fat. Remember, intensity is key, so keep that heart rate up and minimize rest breaks.