Testosterone, often touted the king of all male hormones – and rightfully so. Research shows testosterone has a function in regulating:
In this article, we’ll focus on the effects of testosterone on muscle growth. With all the “T-boosters” and “anabolic diets” we see on the internet every day, it’s important to understand how great the effects of testosterone on muscle growth really are.
Without any further ado, let’s jump straight in!
More Testosterone = More Muscle?
It’s widely accepted that the normal range of testosterone for males is around 250-950 ng/dl. Without any drug use, it’s impossible to go way beyond this “normal range.” In science, testosterone levels beyond the normal range are referred to as “supraphysiological levels of testosterone.”
Through research, we know that supraphysiologic levels of testosterone allow tremendous muscle growth to occur. In one study, volunteers who injected supraphysiological doses of testosterone were able to gain muscle without any form of exercise.
That’s part of the reason why professional bodybuilders are able to become so big, their testosterone levels are through the roof due to the large amounts of testosterone they inject (which can be very dangerous).
Because supraphysiological levels of testosterone have great effects on muscle growth, it’s often believed that every small and/or temporary increase in testosterone will help grow more muscle. But that’s not always the case.
Like Dr. Stu Philips once stated, naturally occurring levels of testosterone do not significantly influence the rate of muscle protein synthesis (the process in which muscles grow). Muscle growth only increases when anabolic hormone levels drastically increase for an extended period of time, which is not possible naturally.
Basically, those who squat every day and/or maintain very short rest periods to achieve a greater hormonal response, do not benefit from it in terms of muscle growth.
Researchers actually went out and studied this too. A study by the University of McMaster found that maximizing the post-workout hormonal response, by manipulating training variables, does not result in more overall muscle growth. Again, this is because the testosterone levels of the volunteers stayed within a normal range.
When To Worry About Testosterone
As you just read, healthy individuals with testosterone levels in a normal range do not benefit from slightly more testosterone in terms of muscle growth.
But we know through research that testosterone levels tend to decrease as someone gets older. Eventually, this can result in testosterone levels below the healthy range. Also, some people have poor nutrition, don’t sleep well, and are very stressed. This also causes a significant drop in testosterone, which can put a person below the healthy testosterone range.
The condition in which the human body does not produce enough testosterone is known as “Hypogonadism.”
When someone does not produce enough testosterone, even a relatively small increase in testosterone levels can be beneficial. Not just for muscle growth, by the way, but also for overall health.
Naturally Increasing Testosterone Levels
So, now we know that individuals with low testosterone levels benefit from increasing testosterone. Often, low testosterone levels are caused by poor health habits. That’s why it’s no surprise many studies suggest that changing a few of these poor health habits will naturally increase testosterone.
Let’s look at a few natural ways to increase testosterone.
1. Consume sufficient micronutrients
Micronutrient (vitamins & minerals) deficiencies have been shown to significantly decrease testosterone production. Several studies show that getting rid of these deficiencies has a positive effect on your testosterone levels and can put you back in a healthy range.
There’s evidence showing that many US citizens are deficient in several micronutrients. So, consuming more nutrient-dense meals and taking a good multivitamin can help many people with increasing testosterone.
2. Get rid of excess body fat
Fat cells contain an enzyme called aromatase. As you accumulate excess body fat, aromatase levels increase. Aromatase has been shown to convert testosterone to estrogen and, therefore, negatively affects testosterone levels. This helps explain why observational studies link obesity to lower testosterone.
Having that said, getting too lean is not beneficial. Something like a bodybuilding contest prep can be detrimental to your testosterone levels.
3. Get enough sleep
Poor sleep is a no-go for active individuals. Next to suppressing testosterone production, it also slows down fat loss and decreases muscle growth.
One study on older males shows that the difference between 4 and 8 hours of sleep a day can mean the difference between testosterone levels below and testosterone levels within a healthy range. Yeah, kind of a big deal!
Final Words on Testosterone
Testosterone is very important for basic human function and, of course, muscle growth. To optimally gain muscle as a natural lifter, you need to make sure your testosterone levels stay within a healthy range.
But slightly boosting your testosterone by manipulating training variables, for example, won’t make you gain more muscle. If you are a healthy individual who trains hard, sleeps properly, eats nutrient-dense meals, and is not constantly stressed out, boosting your “T-levels” should not concern you.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the one and only key to healthy testosterone levels. Yes, even for older men.
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Thank you for this article … it’s every bodybuilder dream to build more and more muscles … they go to great extend to achieve such goal …
I think there isn’t a typo mistake please chech it out ….
It’s the last sentence in this paragraph
” But slightly boosting your testosterone by manipulating training variables, for example, won’t make you gain more muscle. If you are a healthy individual who trains hard, sleeps properly, eats nutrient-dense meals, and is not constantly stressed out, boosting your “T-levels” should concern you.”
“I think you wanted to say should not concern you!!!”
Thank you again
Thank you for the kind words!
And yes, you are right, thanks for the heads up 🙂
You bring up Aromatase, what would be your thoughts on armoatase inhibitors, such as arimistane?
Often used for treating gyno and may be an attractive alternative for traditional testosterone substitution in elderly men.
But the same applies, definitely not necessary if you implement a healthy lifestyle. Aromatase blockers also will not increase testosterone to supraphysiological levels: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3143915/