What is going on guys!
Before I ramble away about my own experience I want to just give some background on what testosterone is and why it is so important when it comes to everyday life and building muscle!
Testosterone is a major hormone in men but it is also present in women. It's not that crazy aggressive caveman hormone that people think of when they think testosterone.
It plays a number of roles outside of just building muscle. Just to name a few; penis and testes development, bone growth and size, sperm production, facial and pubic hair, mood, muscle size and strength, sex drive etc.
So there is no denying, having high levels of testosterone is key to development and having low testosterone can lead to depression, reduced muscle mass, baldness, increased bodyfat, low libido, brittle bones (increasing chances of fractures).
Testosterone does decline with age. There has been some speculation as to why but nothing solid as I am writing this blog.
It was November 2019, I was finding it harder than usual to build muscle (post injury). I knew the profound impacts low testosterone could have on muscle gain but I didn't really have any symptoms of low testosterone. I was still curious and then I found let's get checked - a very easy to use pin prick style blood test that can be done at home!
So naturally, I ordered a kit and tested away. The results arrived in days (results below) and were available on a very easy to use dashboard.
To my surprise, my testosterone came out on the lower end of normal - 11.9 nmol/L (343 ng/dl) and the average testosterone for someone my age is around 550 ng/dl. Probably more like 600 ng/dl for someone that trained!
When you are trying to maximize muscle gain as a natural, this is not something you can let slide....
I then made it my mission to increase my testosterone as much as possible without TRT. I have spent the last 10 months trying herbs, trying all sorts of training, recovery methods and eating as well as I could. I gained 5kg (11lbs) in the last 4 months and almost 10kg (22lbs) since November 2019.
I decided it was time to retest the test. So I ordered another kit and as I thought, there was a solid increase in testosterone!!
My results came back on the upper end of normal..pretty darn high. My levels had gone up to 29.6 nmol/L (853 ng/dl), that's a 248% increase in testosterone levels in just 10 months!
So now you're probably wondering, how did I do it?
You can watch the video version below or continue to read on....or both!
1. Resistance Training
I have resistance trained for 16 years so this is not anything new - I can come out and say, knowing what I know now, I have made a lot of errors!
Sometimes too much, sometimes too little, sometimes the wrong exercises, wrong setup, execution...the list goes on.
In the last 3 years I have dedicated 100s more hours to learning the best training methods, exercises, speed, sets etc. I have brought books, read studies, taken courses. I always test everything I learn so I can see what works and what is a waste of time. So when it comes to writing a program, I can apply the most effective methods for myself and my clients.
It is easily forgotten but training is the stimulus for growth, not enough means the body has no reason to grow and too much can mean there is too much stress to adapt to. I went out of my way to avoid over-training. Research has shown that resistance training increases testosterone levels post-exercise but over-training can do the opposite, lower testosterone due to skyrocketing cortisol (more on that later).
The increased cortisol levels increase chance of injury, reduce sleep quality and actually lower testosterone levels further!
To make sure you are maximize testosterone levels, keep the workout relatively short (50-90 mins max), don't rest too long between sets, lift heavy enough and train large muscle groups.
2. Limit stressors
Cortisol is your stress hormone and it competes with testosterone. When cortisol is high, testosterone takes a hit!
Everyone has at least a small bit of stress. Hell, training itself is a stress but a good stress (as long as you don't over-train) is one you can adapt to.
If someone or something stresses you, do your best to avoid your exposure to it. If it is someone, have that conversation with them. You will feel a a load off your shoulder and probably help them too.
Ways I reduce stress
So I go for daily walks,meditate, read, get out in nature, paint, draw.
Having/finding a purpose, whatever it is can be key to your self-worth. Sure, not all of us are the wolf of wall street and that’s completely fine – go do what makes you happy!
If I feel stressed and I can't do any of the above, I box breath for 3-5 minutes, it helps reduce your heart rate and activate your parasympathetic nervous system more (rest and digest).
3. Prioritize recovery
If you are not recovering, you are not able to hit your body frequently enough with resistance training sessions and you sacrifice growth. Muscle growth relies on the ability to recover and come back stronger.
There are many ways you can recover: massage, sauna, self-myofacial release with a foam roller , dry brushing, inversion after training and the list goes on!
Don't forget sleep!
This almost go it's own point within itself. Making sure you get 7-9 hours of good quality sleep is crucial to recovery and testosterone production.
Not gonna lie, my sleep could be better. I average out 6-7 hrs a night and that is just because I get into bed too late (distracted by my latest book). Once I'm in bed, i'm out like a light switch.
I have cold showers every day for 3 minutes - this has been shown to reduce inflammation. If you do it post-exercise make sure you do not go over 10 minutes as this has been shown to blunt hormesis (your adaptive response to training) and can can lower testosterone.
I take 500mg magnesium daily and stretch every evening while I wind down for bed and listen to a podcast I downloaded (phone is in aeroplane mode).
I usually box breathe after a workout or mediate, bringing myself out of that sympathetic state (fight or flight) into a parasympathetic state (rest and digest).
I seek recovery methods that are gonna keep me growing and progressing.
4. Diet and supplements
Diet is probably one of the most important of the five! You need to make sure you are getting in enough calories (not too much and not too little) to support muscle growth and hormone production.
I eat a high fat diet and it's still pretty high carb too (not by bro standards though), I get in enough protein from varied sources (fish, chicken, eggs, organ meats, pea protein).
My exact macro split changes from time to time as I play around with it and find what works best for me but at the moment: 3,750 kcal, 236g protein (1g per 1lb of bodyweight), 283g carbs and 189g fat.
The thing is, my diet has not changed in anyway since my first reading.
Once you have your nutrition dialed in, there are a number of supplements that I feel I have seen some great benefits from.
Ashwaghanda – This is an aryurvedic herb. I am working on a video and blog post dedicated to this! I use it 4 days on and 4 days off so I do not build a tolerance. I take the KSM-66 form as that is more bio-available. In some studies it has been shown to significantly lower stress levels, improve performance, power output and testosterone in men who trained
Vitamin D3 – I use this daily and in the summer (you can't rely on absorbing it from the sun). I take 4,000iu daily (I also take Vitamin K2 alongside this to prevent adverse health affects such as calcification).
Macuna Pruriens – I recently started using the extract L-Dopa (120mg) as this is the active compound in Macuna and I use this every other day (only started this in the last two months). L-Dopa is a precursor to dopamine and has been shown to increase dopamine levels, dopamine has a positive regulatory function on the HPG axis (hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis) that helps to stimulate production of testosterone in the testicles.
Schisandra tincture – I only started using this recently but it has some very promising health benefits. I use 730mg twice a day.
Zinc daily – usually after my dinner (for as long as I can remember so that is not a new addition)
Creatine – 10g a day and I base this dose on the prescribed 0.1g per kg of bodyweight. I take 5g before a workout and 5g after. This is not a new addition but worth mentioning because in some studies it has been shown to increase testosterone levels.
This may sound like a lot and it is! I was serious about increasing my testosterone. If you are going to go for just 1 I suggest D3 and next ashwaghanda.
5. Limit your exposure to estrogenic compounds!
Before you label me cooko I suggest reading the book estrogeneration by Dr Anthony Jay and giving him a follow on Instagram.
In short, you want to use natural skin care products, shampoos, filter your water, avoid plastic bottles (where possible) and avoid soy unless its fermented like a good quality Miso or soy sauce -
I avoid flaxseeds and sesame seeds like the plague - they are highest on the avoid list. There are so many foods which contain phytoestrogens which may mimic estrogen in the body.
As a side note, avoid too much fibre as this can bind to free testosterone and quite literally flush it out!
So that is all for this post. I appreciate you checking out my blog. Let me know what you thought in the comment section below or if you have any questions at all.
i try to make all my content as actionable as it can be and everything I listed above can give some pretty amazing results. If you would like 1-2-1 coaching, wherever you are in the world, get in touch!
We'll talk soon!
**DISCLAIMER** The information in this blog is the opinion is my opinion based on my research and studies. The research and information covered in this blog is open to public domain for discussion and in no way breaches or breaks the boundaries of the law in the United Kingdom where I live. I am not a doctor nor do I claim to have any formal medical background. I am not liable, either expressly or in an implied manner, nor claim any responsibility for any emotional or physical problems that may occur directly or indirectly from reading this blog