The effects of testosterone in humans and other vertebrates occur by way of two main mechanisms: by activation of the androgen receptor (directly or as DHT), and by conversion to estradiol and activation of certain estrogen receptors. Free testosterone (T) is transported into the cytoplasm of target tissue cells, where it can bind to the androgen receptor, or can be reduced to 5α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by the cytoplasmic enzyme 5α-reductase. DHT binds to the same androgen receptor even more strongly than T, so that its androgenic potency is about 2.5 times that of T. The T-receptor or DHT-receptor complex undergoes a structural change that allows it to move into the cell nucleus and bind directly to specific nucleotide sequences of the chromosomal DNA. The areas of binding are called hormone response elements (HREs), and influence transcriptional activity of certain genes, producing the androgen effects.
A recent study conducted on trained subjects showed that squats stimulated a greater testosterone response than leg presses.10 Stick with multijoint exercises like squats, bench presses, and deadlifts—the kinds of compound lifts that'll help jack up your testosterone levels. Since machines isolate a muscle you're working (less stabilizer activity), they're not as good a choice compared to free weights.
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