Just a heads up, I am writing this newsletter with the male reader at the forefront of my mind. That said, If you are a woman, this should still be of interest to you. First, you may have a man in your life that you care about and therefore, want him to age well and second, women still need testosterone in their systems, just not as much as men. So if you are a woman, read everything and realize it applies to you, just a little bit less.
What is Testosterone and Why is it Important?
Most of us, when we think of testosterone will think of it as something that deepens a boys voice, puts hair on his chest and helps him develop larger muscles. According to the National Institute of Health, testosterone does so much more. It is a sex hormone that plays an important role in the body, it regulates sex drive (libido), bone mass, fat distribution, muscle mass, muscle size and strength and the production of red blood cells and sperm.
Fun fact! Testosterone is synthesized in the body from cholesterol. But sorry guys, having high cholesterol doesn’t mean your testosterone will be high. It’s levels are too carefully controlled by the pituitary gland in the brain for that to occur.
Unlike estrogen, that during menopause acts kind of like a skydiver might when their parachute doesn’t open, they fall fast and they fall hard. In other words, women notice when their estrogen drops…and so do most of the people around them! Testosterone on the other hand drops gradually as a man ages. About 1-2% per year after the age of 40. But, it’s not without its effect. Lost testosterone can lower a mans sex drive, his ability to gain muscle mass, his energy levels, his mood and more. But the good news is you can boost testosterone naturally. And in a way that has a host of other benefits as well.
I’m talking about exercise. But not just any exercise. Walking won’t cut it. Nor will long distance running.(that will actually deplete testosterone). I’m talking about resistance training.
Research has shown that lifting heavy weighs is the best form of exercise to boost testosterone naturally.
But don’t stop reading yet. Not just any form of resistance training will do it. This subject has been studied a lot and while there are have been some varying results in the small details, the general consensus is to boost testosterone, with resistance training, you need a combination of INTENSITY (ie. heavy) and VOLUME (reps over time).
Best Exercises (and how many) to Increase Testosterone
Like I said above, there has been a fair bit of research done on this but I am going to refer to the work by Dr Duncan French, a PhD who is the Director of Performance at the University of Notre Dame and is currently the Vice President of Performance for the Ultimate Fighting Challenge (UFC). His protocol to build or maintain muscle and boost testosterone naturally is what he calls a 6 by 10 protocol. That means lift a weight 10 times, repeat that 6 times, rest between sets for no more than 2 minutes.
Now, the rest is actually as important in this situation as the intensity and volume. You actually want to create a metabolic stress with the shorter rest in order to stimulate maximal testosterone production.
Now, this sounds simple, but it actually isn’t a protocol that everyone can handle. This is for experienced exercisers who can lift heavy weights with good form. If you are new to exercise, or struggle to maintain good form this is probably not for you. The trick to getting the results you want is that the weight needs to be heavy enough that you really can’t do more than 10 repetitions. A deconditioned person or someone with a health concern can hurt themselves if they tried to do this.
Another caveat is that more isn’t necessarily better. If you do too much exercise you can actually start to deplete your testosterone. The magic number really did seem to be 6 sets of 10 repetitions of an exercise. The nice thing about this is you don’t have to spend hours in a gym to get results. 45 minutes to an hour and you should be done!
Other Tips for Increasing Testosterone Naturally
Along with resistance training two other things you can do to boost your testosterone naturally is to get a good night sleep and ensure you consume enough protein throughout the day.
If you are interested in exploring this 10×6 protocol but are new to exercise I highly recommend you hire a Personal Training Specialist who can safely guide you towards the exercises that work for your body and so they can ensure your form is correct before you add extra resistance. Always remember, FORM is FIRST. And keep in mind, not everyone can or should do this. There may be a different protocol better designed for your individual goals and needs.
No matter what, you can’t go wrong with strong so if you aren’t lifting weights now is the BEST time to start! Not sure where to start? I hope you know who to call!
Happy lifting everyone! Christine