A properly designed resistance training plan can prevent a profound drop in testosterone from too much exercise, to much intensity or both.
For many men, more testosterone means more muscle, leaner physique and improved testosterone levels. The media and the blogosphere are full of information promoting the notion low testosterone triggers fat burning and packs on lean mass. Let’s examine this hormone hypertrophy hype.
Q: What does occurs when you train hard?
A: Research confirms that training the body leads to acute increases in testosterone, growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1. The better the workout the greater the hormone output.
Q: Is it true the greater the testosterone output during the workout the more hypertrophy?
A: Not quite, that correlation is not causation. Brad Schoenfeld , director of human performance laboratory at Lehman College in New York, found that in his research lean muscle gains (highly beneficial for weight loss) occurred without the presence of testosterone hormone (schoenfeld 2013).
Q: How does that explain bodybuilders and their increase in mass?
A: Interesting question. Expert Eric Helm highlights how professional bodybuilders preparing for competition, at the height of their leanness and impressive physiques all have minuscule testosterone levels (Helm 2018).
Q: What inhibits testosterone output?
A: Helms emphasizes that caloric restriction is the biggest factor contributing to low levels of free testosterone (i.e., testosterone that is not bound to proteins in the blood). In fact, it takes bodybuilders 2-3 months for testosterone levels to return to normal.
Q: What does mean to you the recreational person looking to burn fat while building muscle?
A: Artificially boosting testosterone is not the answer.
A: Instead look at the root causes of low testosterone. For the person carrying too much belly fat, losing weight should be the top priority. Why? Cause belly fat is proinflammatory. Chronic inflammation can worsen blood glucose control and exacerbate weight gain. When you increase belly fat, you activate the increase the activity of a hormone called aromatase, which helps convert testosterone into estrogen, further reducing testosterone levels.
Q: What if you need to lose weight yet still struggle with low testosterone?
A: The next area to address is sleep, which is the second most likely cause of low testosterone, according to research. Sleep quality is also a consideration. Poor sleep quality is linked to low testosterone levels and found that every four hour of sleep loss (under 7 hours), created a drop in testosterone (Patel et. 2018).
Q: What can one do to stabilized testosterone levels?
A: Assess your training plan. A poorly periodized training plan can quickly lead to inadequate recovery, overtraining and low testosterone levels. Even fitness enthusiast or weekend warriors, too much aerobic exercise, too many HIIT sessions and excessive volume of training in the gym all tend to lead to inadequate recovery and low testosterone.
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