Testosterone—men and women need it more than they know. As one of the body’s core hormones, testosterone is essential for the production of lean muscle mass and the maintenance of bone strength (an important note for older women who’re more likely to suffer from osteoporosis). When the body’s natural testosterone production starts to go—something that’s unavoidable with age—men and women become increasingly susceptible to a number of unpleasant health conditions including (but not limited to) depression, obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart attack, low sex drive, and hair loss. In fact, the problems associated with Low-T are so pervasive that a great deal of research has been published on the subject (including some fantastic books from the founder of Allure Medical, Dr. Charles Mok).
Fortunately, a diagnosis of low testosterone isn’t the end of the world. Not only are there a number of medical treatments to combat Low-T (like testosterone pellet insertion), but there are a number of lifestyle changes that can be made to boost testosterone levels naturally. One of the most effective changes that can be made?—a new approach to exercise that’s built on anaerobic exercise as opposed to aerobic workouts.
Dead lifts, squats, power cleans, and jerks are short, explosive movements that challenge the body’s lean muscle mass, elevate the heart rate, and encourage the body to release more testosterone into the bloodstream, thereby jump-starting the testosterone production process. However, don’t just jump into Olympic lifting if you’ve never done it before. Enlist the help of a personal trainer, join a weightlifting class, or try doing something like Cross-Fit. To perform Olympic lifts safely and effectively, you will need some kind of coaching—if you try Olympic lifts with no training you will hurt yourself, guaranteed.
Sprinting instead of jogging
Like Olympic lifts, sprints are short, explosive exercises that force short-twitch muscle fibers to work much harder than they would in leisurely activities like jogging or walking. The high-impact nature of sprinting forces the body’s muscles to get stronger, faster to better support the joints. More lean muscle means a faster metabolism, which means less body fat and a more efficient production of testosterone in the body. If you haven’t done a sprint since grade school (and most 40-something men and women haven’t) don’t start with something crazy like a full hundred meters on a track. Try something more reasonable, like 10 sprints across the width of a tennis court, or 5 sprints across the length of a basketball court.
Try burnout sets
The next time you’re in the gym doing curls or lat pulldowns, make your last set a burnout set. The purpose of a burnout set is to perform as many repetitions as physically possible, so go until failure. What do we mean by failure? We mean go until you can no longer physically lift the weight. (Please be aware that burnout sets should ONLY be performed when using dumbbells or machines—never do a burnout set if you’re performing a barbell exercise like a bench press.)
Burnout sets challenge muscle fibers in an unconventional way, stimulating the body’s need to repair and strengthen the tissue. The stronger and bulkier that tissue becomes, the more effective the body is at producing testosterone.
Cut out the cardio
Obviously, you don’t want to completely eliminate cardio from your workout routine (especially if you’re trying to lose weight), but an over-dependence on cardiovascular exercise depletes the body’s testosterone reserves and discourages replacement production.
Why? Well, scientists aren’t exactly sure, but they do know that endurance athletes (runners, cyclists, walkers, hikers, etc.) continually have lower levels of testosterone than their anaerobic athlete counterparts.
If you’d like to learn more…
If you’d like to learn more about testosterone replacement, low-T, or how testosterone plays a role in the maintenance of your health as you age, RSVP to our 2nd Wellness Wednesday event September 5 at our Shelby Township office with personal trainer Neil Hanser, here!
View Dr. Mok’s FREE video series on the impact of testosterone on your overall health, here!