Testosterone is an essential tool to allow your body to repair, grow and thrive, especially when bodybuilding. This anabolic hormone is somewhat of a buzzword in bodybuilding due to its benefits. If you are looking for a way to naturally boost your testosterone levels, or you are considering a supplement, look no further for the complete lowdown on testosterone and bodybuilding.
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Testosterone: The Facts
Testosterone is known as a steroid when looked at chemically. It is also a male sex hormone when viewed from a biological perspective. In most countries, including the U.K., Australia, Canada, and the U.S., it is a controlled substance and therefore you may be prescribed it if you have low levels. That doesn’t mean that supplements are illegal if bought from a trustworthy source with safe levels of testosterone. Most supplements are completely legal if taken as directed.
Did you know that both women and men produce testosterone? On average a man will produce around 7milligrams daily, with women producing around one–tenth of this. Most of this is formed within the testes, and similarly in the ovaries for women. Testosterone is derived from cholesterol in both sexes. Levels are usually highest when waking up in the morning and decrease during the day.
Healthy Levels of Testosterone
You can get tested at the doctor’s surgery to check your testosterone levels if you are worried for any reason. They can give you advice on what to do next and you may still experience symptoms of low testosterone levels, despite your numbers being fine. This is because often testosterone is bound to another substance in the body; a protein named SHBG (serum hormone-binding globulin).
One cool way to check out if you were born with higher than average testosterone levels is the finger test. This isn’t a completely valid way to check but can be surprisingly accurate. Simply lay one of your hands on a flat surface. If your ring finger is longer than your index, you were likely exposed to extra testosterone in the womb.
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Low testosterone levels will show in many ways, includingerectile dysfunction in men and decreased libido in both sexes. You may also notice hair loss, increased fat, reduced muscle mass, fatigue, and poor sleep. Over time, these can affect your sexual, physical and mental health and therefore you need to speak to a doctor if you are showing any of these signs. Healthline provides a definitive guide of the symptoms that you may suffer from low testosterone levels and what to do next. Some medical conditions can increase your chances of low levels, including inherited diseases such as Down’ssyndrome, diabetes and some cancer treatments.
The Role of Testosterone
Testosterone has many effects on the body and is needed for normal development, as well as for bodybuilding. One huge and well-known role of this hormone is to produce sperm and promote healthy erectile function, but testosterone is used for many more reasons than this:
• Fat: Testosterone can stop the storage and uptake of body fat and works to increase fat burning receptors around the body.
• Muscles: Increases strength, muscle mass, and muscle protein synthesis.
• Kidneys: Aids with the products of red blood cells.
• Bone: Helps with both bone density and growth.
• Brain: Improves memory, cognition and sex drive. Testosterone can also affect your mood and feelings if you have too much or too little of the hormone (you may have heard of “roid rage”).
• Heart: Testosterone increases the blood flow to this essential organ.
• Skin: Produces body hairs and aids with the production of collagen.
There have been many studies done regarding testosterone and the positive benefits it can have on overall health, including faster metabolism and low body fat levels, making testosterone an important factor in bodybuilding.
Testosterone and Muscles
Testosterone is named an anabolic steroid (even when produced within the body naturally) as it has a direct effect on muscle growth. It can make your muscles larger through increasing muscle fiber cells which will then bind with existing cells, making the muscles larger. These cells may even fuse together themselves, creating more muscle fibers. Testosterone also increases the receptors within the muscle, meaning protein synthesis is accelerated.
It can block out other hormones binding to these receptors such as cortisol, which is a big no-no in the bodybuilding world. Cortisol can have detrimental effects on improving muscle mass and recovery time, making testosterone your best friend when it comes to building and preserving that muscle mass and recovering quickly.
Testosterone and Body Composition
If you have low levels of testosterone, you are likely going to gain weight easily and have more stubborn fat. Low testosterone can lower your metabolic rate and insulin sensitivity, as it works within the central nervous system to regulate your metabolism. Many studies have shown those who take prescribed testosterone have a higher lean muscle mass and a lower percentage of body fat.
Testosterone and Bodybuilding
As well as the above, testosterone can improve the body in many other ways for bodybuilders to get the most from their exercise routines and to build muscle fast, with quicker recovery times. Here we look at some other ways in which testosterone can improve bodybuilding:
1. Athletic performance: testosterone can improve your athletic performance as you have more blood flow to the heart and an increased metabolic rate. This, combined with a quicker recovery period, means your athletic performance and stamina will improve.
2. Stronger muscles: not only does muscle size improve, testosterone can make your muscles stronger through the increased calcium with the muscle cells. Testosterone has been proven to increase calcium, which then boosts contractions of the muscles, making them stronger and more powerful.
3. Endurance: in bodybuilding, endurance can be as important as muscle strength and recovery. As stated earlier, testosterone helps with red blood cell production, meaning more oxygen can be carried to your working muscles, leading to more function for a longer period of time.
As you can see, testosterone has many great impacts forbodybuilders.
Strength Training and Testosterone
One way to naturally produce more testosterone is through high volume weight training when performed over your threshold. This means doing more reps with a lower weight will stimulate testosterone production within the body. Hitting the gym later in the day has also been shown to naturally increase levels, although this isn’t always the case.
Maintaining Healthy Levels
If the above has convinced you to take testosterone seriously, here is how you can maintain healthy levels of testosterone naturally:
• Avoid alcohol: most bodybuilders cut out drinking altogether as it has many negative effects. Alcohol will affect your testosterone and cortisol levels, making muscle training harder and recovery longer.
• Remain lean: if you are a bodybuilder, staying lean is part of the plan so there shouldn’t be much of a problem here. The higher the percentage of body fat, the less testosterone available.
• Limit stress: we aren’t talking about mental stress here, but physical and chronic stress. Overtraining isn’t a quick fix and will reduce your testosterone levels significantly over time. High volume workouts (as mentioned above) have the opposite effect.
• Birth control: many women have low testosterone levels because of birth control when taking the oral pill. You are likely on this for a reason and therefore should continue to take this, as you can choose to take supplements to help with this reduction in testosterone levels.
Using Testosterone Supplements
Some testosterone supplements can be dangerous for the body and have detrimental effects on your health. Choosing a trustworthy source for your supplements that promotes the use of natural products is the safest and most effective way of improving your testosterone levels and therefore your overall performance in the gym. Testogen have come up with a new way to increase hormone levels naturally and safely through linking the use of pine pollen and testosterone.
Pine pollen is a natural plant substance that contains testosterone. This is the “sperm” of a pine tree, responsible for reproduction. Testosterone therapy is completely safe and legal when using a natural substance such as this. You can choose to purchase powder, to make your own dosing, or some prefer tinctures, which can be placed under the tongue for a quicker effect. Whilst these supplements can be fantastic for bodybuilders, you need to ensure you aren’t overusing the products by taking too much pine pollen at once or too often.
Both men and women can reap the benefits of testosterone in weight training to build and retain muscle mass, reduce the amount of fat held within the body and recover quicker between exercises. Be sure to stay safe when considering any supplements and look at natural ways of increasing testosterone levels. Be sure to avoid alcohol and excessive diets if you don’t want to limit your testosterone levels and speak to a doctor if you believe you have low levels, as this can affect more than just your bodybuilding ability.