Ever since you were a child, whether you were aware of it or not, hormones have been coursing through your veins and have been responsible for all of your biological processes. From growth, to decision making, to what you choose to eat and when, and even that annoying pimple you have on your back that has completely interfered with your plan on wearing that muscle bound tank top to show off your bulging biceps on the weekend. When it comes to health and fitness however, hormones play an even more prominent role; they determine how much energy you have, how much muscle size you can gain, and even how much fat you can lose and how quickly you can lose it. So much so that bodybuilders and fitness junkies have for decades tried to manipulate them, even via illegal means such as anabolic steroids, to get the best body, or best performance, possible. The main hormone we are taking about here is testosterone, but you don't have to resort to sticking needles in your butt or ordering questionable illegal drugs from that red-faced, bloated muscle head in the gym to reap it's benefits. Today I'm going to show you how you too can manipulate it naturally via a few diet and exercise tips and tricks that will help speed up your fat loss and help you put on lean muscle mass quicker than ever.
Testosterone is known as the male sex hormone, and is primarily found in the male testes and also in smaller amounts in female ovaries. It's associated with strength, youth and sex... that's right, all the fun things. Low testosterone can result in fatigue, loss of libido, premature aging, sexual dysfunction, muscle loss and fat gain, just to name a few, so you can see it's important to keep it at optimal levels for proper daily function and way of life. Low testosterone is a serious medical issue and should you suspect that you are suffering from this, you should consult your doctor immediately. However today for the purposes of this article, we are going to assume you are a healthy individual with normal, regular testosterone levels, as we show you ways of manipulating and optimizing it for your exercise and fitness goals. Take a look at the tips and tricks natural bodybuilders (they're ones that don't resort to using steroids) use to burn fat and get buff...
1. Compound Exercises
If you are spending hours in the gym doing countless amounts of bicep curls or pec flies, then you are not doing the correct exercises for muscle growth. Isolation exercises like this definitely have their place, but if you want to really pack on muscle, then you need to do be doing compound exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder press, and chin ups. Compound exercises utilize more than one muscle group to perform the movement, which studies show increases testosterone levels, and human growth hormone, more than isolation exercises.
A lot. Think munching on a few salads a day is going to get your buff? For optimal testosterone production, your body needs calories, and a lot of them. Eat six meals a day, which has shown to regulate hormones better than the standard 3 meals a day, and ensure that you are eating enough carbohydrates. Carbohydrate restriction works for fat loss for short periods of time, however testosterone levels reduce when sustained for longer periods which is counter productive.
2. Leg workouts
I'm not a big fan of leg days at the gym. My legs tend to be in pain for days afterwards and I walk around like Forest Gump with leg braces on. But I make sure I do them. Why? Because leg muscles are large and forcing them to lift heavy loads creates a hormonal release of testosterone that not only helps them grow, but helps your upper body grow too. Leg workouts also burn a ton of fat.
Go hard or go home. Your body adapts to the physical strain we put on it, and if you are doing the same old workout, with the same old weights, than you are not challenging yourself. Ensure that you change your workouts regularly, creating muscle confusion and increased testosterone production, and make sure you are working at optimum intensity.
Your momma always said to eat your brussel sprouts, and she was right. Vegetables, particularly cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts contain a chemical called diindolylmethane, which has been shown to reduce excess estrogen levels, therefore increasing the amount of free testosterone available in your body.
4. Good Fats
The low fat craze over the last 20 years has just made everybody fat. Mainly because when they take the fat out of a product they replace it with added sugars, but also because our bodies need fats for many biological processes such as hormone production. Studies who men who have a diet that consists of monounsaturated fats (avocados, nuts, and olive oil) and Omega 3's (Oily fish) have higher testosterone levels than men who don't.
Are you currently only getting around 6 hours of sleep or less a night? Turns out it could be impacting your ability to burn fat and put on lean muscle. Sleeping less than 7 - 8 hours increases the hormone cortisol, which in turn decreases testosterone, up to a reported 40%. Make sure you are getting enough shut eye each night as this is also the time when your body is repairing itself and growing, getting ready for tomorrow's workout.
6. Reduce Alcohol - Particularly Beer
Too much alcohol will make you fat. No news there. However alcohol consumption, even in small doses has been shown to suppress testosterone levels. If beer is your tipple of choice, then you are in for a double whammy. The hops in beer contain estrogenic compounds which can lead to decreased testosterone levels, decreased strength in males, and even worse...beer belly.
7. Reduce Stress
When your body encounters stress, whether physical or emotional, it releases the stress hormone known as cortisol (the same one mentioned above when you haven't gotten enough sleep). For your body to cope with this stress stimulus, it has to temporarily shut down other hormonal functions, and unfortunately testosterone production is one of them. Go through a prolonged amount of stress, or place too much stress on your body by overworking it in the gym and not resting enough, and you may find your testosterone levels may be decreased for longer periods of time.
8. Get Your Freak On
That's right, you can increase your testosterone by increasing your sexual activity. Enough said. As if you needed an excuse.
As mentioned above you don't need to resort to steroids to increase your testosterone levels. There are some natural (and legal) supplements that can do it for you. Zinc is important for testosterone production and can actually prevent testosterone from converting into estrogen (yes it can happen and is one of the reasons for that horrible condition known as man boobs). Studies have shown that zinc supplementation increases testosterone levels in males. Garlic has also been shown to increase testosterone, and in some studies has also shown to cure erectile disfunction.
Warning: There are some over the counter supplements at your health and fitness stores and online that are known as testosterone boosters. While they may indeed increase testosterone levels, they may do so in a manner than increases side effects such as an increase in estrogen, leading gynecomastia (man boobs) and fat gain, just to name a few.
So there you have it. Some very simple and natural ways for you to increase your testosterone levels naturally. Eat, do heavy compound exercises at the gym, get enough sleep, increase your sex drive... all things that are not only achievable, but fun at the same time.