by Tony Gjokaj August 09, 2021 3 min read

Movement is life. Complacency is death.

One in four men worldwide live a sedentary lifestyle... and this is slowly killing them. Lack of physical activity increases the risk of all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Let's not forget about the impact that lack of movement also has on our mental health.

To add to that, lack of physical activity can lead to a large decline in testosterone levels, and this can have a large impact on bone health, heart health, libido, and more.

As we mentioned in previous posts, testosterone has been on a steady decline year after year, and a lot of this is a result of lifestyle habits. In our world today, we eat more and move less.

To remedy this, we gotta do the opposite, or eat more and move a lot more.

I like the second option most.

So in this post, we are going to explore testosterone specifically, and how exercise can improve or optimize your testosterone levels.

Let's get into it!

 

Sedentary Lifestyle and Testosterone Levels

Carpe Momentum. "Seize the moment".

As a man, you need to keep moving forward - regardless of what obstacles are in the way.

Motivational speech aside, let's take this one literally with physical activity.

According to one study done on 30 sedentary young men, physical activity significantly improved the testosterone levels of these men.

It is extremely important to engage in any physical activity if you are sedentary. This alone will dramatically improve your testosterone levels.

If you don't regularly exercise, we recommend participating in at least 3-5 hours of moderate-intensity physical activity per day (ie. weight lifting).

If you prefer aerobic exercise, consider doing 2.5-3 hours of higher-intensity workouts.

Resistance Training and Testosterone Levels

When it comes to resistance training, one study showed that free weights induce greater hormonal responses compared to machines. I recommend prioritizing free weights by starting your workouts with them.

When it came to training intensity, various studies done by Kraemer showed that the higher the training intensity was, along with the more muscles engaged in the movement, the higher the testosterone response. This also shows that compound or multi-joint exercises will elicit greater hormonal responses.

Cardiovascular Training and Testosterone Levels

When it comes to cardiovascular exercise, there is no evidence that cardio alone has a direct impact on testosterone levels.

However, there are some exceptions.

For one, individuals who are obese that engage in cardiovascular activity will notably improve their testosterone levels. This has something to do with the correlation between caloric overfeeding and low testosterone levels that we mentioned in our nutrition post.

Secondly, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been shown to improve free testosterone levels in masters athletes. This again was reported in another study done on cyclists. The cyclists who trained in the higher intensity found a 97% increase in testosterone levels.

The level of intensity in cardiovascular exercise matters. This means that activities like short sprints, tabata, and other HIIT exercises can optimize your testosterone levels.

Overtraining, Recovery, and Testosterone Levels

It's important to note that constantly pushing your body beyond its capabilities can lead to overtraining, which can impact your testosterone levels dramatically. In a study that looked at individuals who train for volume (ie. muscle growth), testosterone levels declined significantly when overtrained.

These findings also apply to individuals who utilize hybrid style training methods, such as a combination of weight training and cardiovascular exercise.

Now while the decrease in testosterone is larger in volume-based programs, overtraining in intensity also can impact your testosterone levels.

It's important to consider periods of low-intensity, low-volume, or recovery phases so that you can optimize your testosterone levels and even improve long-term exercise performance.

Recommendations to Optimize Testosterone Levels

To conclude, here are a few things we recommend when it comes to optimizing your testosterone levels:

  • Participate in 3-5 hours of weight lifting. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, this alone can help your testosterone levels dramatically.
  • Participate in 2.5-3 hours of high intensity aerobic exercise. If you prefer aerobic training and you live sedentary, consider high-intensity workouts as they will help you improve testosterone dramatically.
  • Prioritize free weights. Free weights elicit the best hormonal responses when it comes to resistance training.
  • Start with compound or multi-joint exercises. Train movements that hit multiple muscle groups like the barbell squat, the dumbbell bench press, and the barbell deadlift.
  • Cycle through training in Volume and Intensity phases. Do phases that are higher rep (8-15 reps), and then alternate with phases of heavier reps (3-6 reps). 
  • Consider High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). If you're a cardiovascular guy, do some intense cardiovascular workouts.
  • Do recovery phases. After going through weeks of intense training, consider having a lighter week for your body to recover.

And with that, we hope you continue to train hard and recover well.

Do you have any questions, comments, or insights? Feel free to email us at support@reforgedperformance.com or direct message us on Instagram.

Until next time, Reforged Legion!

Tony Gjokaj
Tony Gjokaj

Tony is the Owner of Reforged Performance Nutrition. He is a PN1 Certified Nutrition Coach and has been in the fitness space for over a decade. His goal is to help bridge the gap between physical & mental health through fitness.



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