How to get more testosterone.

How to get more testosterone. 

The title sounds like a gimmick. 

“Typical comment by a company that sells its own supplement.”, you say. 

Our company exists to create a new standard in the industry. We believe effective performance ‘hacks’ and the science behind those effective performance ‘hacks’ are equally important to our readers. In this case, it doesn’t have to do with consuming products. Instead, it has to do with how you’re lifting weights. 

At this point, repeated research has demonstrated that anaerobic resistance training leads to greater muscle hypertrophy (muscle growth) than aerobic training. In other words, resistance training that requires more force production over a few repetitions of fast-twitch-dominant (i.e. generally more explosive and heavy) lifts will get you far greater muscle growth than putting smaller loads on your body for longer periods of time, which places very little overall stress on your system. 

There are a few considerations to how types of anaerobic resistance training can boost hypertrophy: 

  1. Hormonal implications
  2. Cellular implications 

We’ve written about the cellular implications of anaerobic training and hypertrophy. Specifically, we’ve extensively detailed how longer rest times paired with heavier loads (much more weight) will lead to greater increases in overall muscle mass, as well as greater increases in strength and type II (fast-twitch) muscle fiber growth. [1-5]

While that increase in muscle mass that accompanies longer rest periods and heavier loads certainly involves a plethora of hormonal signaling factors, some research has found that a different style of training leads to more significant increases in serum testosterone. 

Instead, that research suggests the greatest increases in free testosterone occurs with short rest intervals, ranging from 30 seconds to 1 minute. [6] 

Note from Alex: I have a few hypotheses around why this testosterone jump occurs. Mainly, I think the increased frequency of sets leads to large increases in pH (more acidic muscle environment) that creates more accessory muscle damage. In this way, more acid-damage might lead to a more severe tissue-repair hormone response. Further, acidification of an environment might lead to different forms of damage than the damage that occurs with heavy external loads, which is likely to be torn muscle fibers. In that case, torn muscle fibers may lead to more scarring and muscle cell growth than acidic damage repair. Again, hypotheses. I’m still searching for a proper article on that front. 

Nonetheless, this increase in serum testosterone has occurred with short rest intervals. If your sole goal is to increase your testosterone production, which may have its benefits, then decreasing the length of your rest periods while maintaining a moderate to heavy load will enable that change.

With that said, I challenge you to look into our previous articles if your goal is more aligned with pure hypertrophy. Again, more muscle growth, greater increases in strength, and increased numbers of type II fast-twitch muscle fibers occurs with longer rest periods and a heavier load (typically somewhere around 80-85% of your 1RM). 

Taking that into account, there’s another potential factor at play: general adaptation syndrome. 

Paraphrased, general adaptation syndrome tells us that the body will eventually adapt to stressors placed on it. When we start a new training program, our body is faced with an influx of new stimuli that apply stress to our muscles and nervous system. Our bodies essentially treat this like injury. Our bodies blast out a wave of chemical signals (like growth hormone and testosterone) to repair our damaged tissue. In this process, we heal from the limited damage and increase our body’s ability to deal with the training. Eventually, that same workout is not enough to stress our body into the same damage, repair, and growth cycles. We then have to increase the stress. Unless this growth cycle continues, the physical adaptations to training will plateau. In this case, we need to adjust the stimulus. In terms of lifting, that typically means adjusting frequency, intensity, and/or volume.

If we have followed a higher weight, longer rest period style of training for an extended period of time (around 9-12 weeks generally), then perhaps shortening our rest periods while maintaining a higher amount of weight will provide our body with a sufficient stress stimulus. In this case, you can increase frequency and volume at one time. Shorter rest periods enable more total sets to be performed under time constraints.

If you still have the goal of increasing your serum testosterone, there are a few other proven tips that don’t necessitate short rest intervals. Many of these following bullet points align with our previously outlined training style as well. 

  • Large compound movements like a deadlift, squat, or bench press 
  • Heavy resistance (85 to 95% of 1RM)
  • High total volume of exercise via sets and reps
  • And finally, commitment to resistance training for over two years (proof of compounding) [6]

References

  1. Schoenfeld, Brad J The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and Their Application to Resistance Training, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: October 2010 - Volume 24 - Issue 10 - p 2857-2872
  2. Grgic J, Schoenfeld BJ. Are the Hypertrophic Adaptations to High and Low-Load Resistance Training Muscle Fiber Type Specific?. Front Physiol. 2018;9:402. Published 2018 Apr 18. doi:10.3389/fphys.2018.00402
  3. Schoenfeld, Brad J.1; Pope, Zachary K.2; Benik, Franklin M.2; Hester, Garrett M.2; Sellers, John2; Nooner, Josh L.2; Schnaiter, Jessica A.2; Bond-Williams, Katherine E.2; Carter, Adrian S.2; Ross, Corbin L.2; Just, Brandon L.2; Henselmans, Menno3; Krieger, James W.4 Longer Interset Rest Periods Enhance Muscle Strength and Hypertrophy in Resistance-Trained Men, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: July 2016 - Volume 30 - Issue 7 - p 1805-1812
  4. Senna, Gilmar W.; Willardson, Jeffrey M.; Scudese, Estevão; Simão, Roberto; Queiroz, Cristiano; Avelar, Raoni; Martin Dantas, Estélio H. Effect of Different Interset Rest Intervals on Performance of Single and Multijoint Exercises With Near-Maximal Loads, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research: March 2016 - Volume 30 - Issue 3 - p 710-716
  5. Freitas de Salles, B., Simão, R., Miranda, F. et al. Rest Interval between Sets in Strength Training. Sports Med 39, 765–777 (2009).
  6. Haff, G. & Triplett, N. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, 4th Edition. Pages 74-77.