It seems like today it’s a badge of honor to train every day until exhaustion. The ethos is to push yourself harder and harder every day. If that’s your philosophy towards exercise, you might be sabotaging your testosterone levels (as well as your 20 Mile March). Studies have shown that overtraining can reduce testosterone levels significantly. Yes, it’s important to exercise hard, but it’s even more important to give your body rest so it can recuperate from the damage you inflicted upon it.
Keep more weapons in your arsenal: Occasionally use lifting methods like forced reps, negatives, and dropsets to further stress your body. Personal trainer and fitness journalist Michael Berg explains in "6 Ways to Crank Up Your Testosterone Levels" that going beyond muscular failure with these techniques has been shown to pump up T-levels in study subjects.
Afrisham, R., Sadejh-Nejadi, S., SoliemaniFar, O., Kooti, W., Ashtary-Larky, D., Alamiri, F., … Khaneh-Keshi, A. (2016, November 24). Salivary testosterone levels under psychological stress and its relationship with rumination and five personality traits in medical students. Psychiatry Investigations, 13(6), 637–643. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5128352/
The mechanism of age related decreases in serum testosterone levels has also been the subject of investigation. Metabolic clearance declines with age but this effect is less pronounced than a reduction in testosterone production, so the overall effect is to reduce serum testosterone levels. Gonadotrophin levels rise during aging (Feldman et al 2002) and testicular secretory responses to recombinant human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG) are reduced (Mulligan et al 1999, 2001). This implies that the reduced production may be caused by primary testicular failure but in fact these changes are not adequate to fully explain the fall in testosterone levels. There are changes in the lutenising hormone (LH) production which consist of decreased LH pulse frequency and amplitude, (Veldhuis et al 1992; Pincus et al 1997) although pituitary production of LH in response to pharmacological stimulation with exogenous GnRH analogues is preserved (Mulligan et al 1999). It therefore seems likely that there are changes in endogenous production of GnRH which underlie the changes in LH secretion and have a role in the age related decline in testosterone. Thus the decreases in testosterone levels with aging seem to reflect changes at all levels of the hypothalamic-pituitary-testicular axis. With advancing age there is also a reduction in androgen receptor concentration in some target tissues and this may contribute to the clinical syndrome of LOH (Ono et al 1988; Gallon et al 1989).
Regardless of the method of testosterone treatment chosen, patients will require regular monitoring during the first year of treatment in order to monitor clinical response to testosterone, testosterone levels and adverse effects, including prostate cancer (see Table 2). It is recommended that patients should be reviewed at least every three months during this time. Once treatment has been established, less frequent review is appropriate but the care of the patient should be the responsibility of an appropriately trained specialist with sufficient experience of managing patients treated with testosterone.
The bones and the brain are two important tissues in humans where the primary effect of testosterone is by way of aromatization to estradiol. In the bones, estradiol accelerates ossification of cartilage into bone, leading to closure of the epiphyses and conclusion of growth. In the central nervous system, testosterone is aromatized to estradiol. Estradiol rather than testosterone serves as the most important feedback signal to the hypothalamus (especially affecting LH secretion). In many mammals, prenatal or perinatal "masculinization" of the sexually dimorphic areas of the brain by estradiol derived from testosterone programs later male sexual behavior.
^ Butenandt A, Hanisch G (1935). "Umwandlung des Dehydroandrosterons in Androstendiol und Testosterone; ein Weg zur Darstellung des Testosterons aus Cholestrin" [About Testosterone. Conversion of Dehydro-androsterons into androstendiol and testosterone; a way for the structure assignment of testosterone from cholesterol]. Hoppe-Seyler's Z Physiol Chem (in German). 237 (2): 89–97. doi:10.1515/bchm2.1935.237.1-3.89.
14. Volek JS, Volk BM, Gómez AL, Kunces LJ, Kupchak BR, Freidenreich DJ, Aristizabal JC, Saenz C, Dunn-Lewis C, Ballard KD, Quann EE, Kawiecki DL, Flanagan SD, Comstock BA, Fragala MS, Earp JE, Fernandez ML, Bruno RS, Ptolemy AS, Kellogg MD, Maresh CM, Kraemer WJ. Whey protein supplementation during resistance training augments lean body mass. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(2):122-35. PMID: 24015719
That said, a group of researchers at the National University of Malaysia did a systemic literature review of longjack, looking for clinical research that demonstrated a relationship between the shrub and testosterone levels. Of 150 articles, only 11 met their inclusion criteria — involving humans and scientifically rigorous. However, of those 11 studies, seven “revealed remarkable association” between using longjack and improving male sexual health, while the remaining four “failed to demonstrate sufficient effects.” The team concluded that longjack looks “promising” when it comes to raising low testosterone, and that there is convincing evidence that it works.
Testosterone is a hormone with multifaceted physiological functions and multiple associations with pathophysiological states. It is an important hormone in male reproductive and metabolic function from intrauterine life to old age. In severe or classical hypogonadal states there is little controversy about the need to administer testosterone by an intramuscular, oral or transdermal formulation. There is controversy about making the diagnosis in the less severe cases of hypogonadism associated with the aging male but the current evidence suggests that this is efficacious in appropriately selected men and that there is little if any risk in giving aging symptomatic hypogonadal men a 6 month trial of therapy to determine whether symptoms will improve.
Currently available testosterone preparations in common use include intramuscular injections, subcutaneous pellets, buccal tablets, transdermal gels and patches (see Table 2). Oral testosterone is not widely used. Unmodified testosterone taken orally is largely subject to first-pass metabolism by the liver. Oral doses 100 fold greater than physiological testosterone production can be given to achieve adequate serum levels. Methyl testosterone esters have been associated with hepatotoxicity. There has been some use of testosterone undecanoate, which is an esterified derivative of testosterone that is absorbed via the lymphatic system and bypasses the liver. Unfortunately, it produces unpredictable testosterone levels and increases testosterone levels for only a short period after each oral dose (Schurmeyer et al 1983).
A testicular action was linked to circulating blood fractions – now understood to be a family of androgenic hormones – in the early work on castration and testicular transplantation in fowl by Arnold Adolph Berthold (1803–1861). Research on the action of testosterone received a brief boost in 1889, when the Harvard professor Charles-Édouard Brown-Séquard (1817–1894), then in Paris, self-injected subcutaneously a "rejuvenating elixir" consisting of an extract of dog and guinea pig testicle. He reported in The Lancet that his vigor and feeling of well-being were markedly restored but the effects were transient, and Brown-Séquard's hopes for the compound were dashed. Suffering the ridicule of his colleagues, he abandoned his work on the mechanisms and effects of androgens in human beings.
In fact, high cortisol deals a crushing blow to testosterone in two ways. During, long-lasting stress, high amounts of cortisol release very often and have a direct negative influence on T levels. Thus, cortisol inhibits testosterone synthesis in the testes and hypothalamus. In addition, the production of cortisol is impossible without cholesterol. But testosterone synthesis also demands cholesterol. Since during stress cholesterol is first of all used for making cortisol, T levels simply plummet.
An international consensus document was recently published and provides guidance on the diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of late-onset hypogonadism (LOH) in men. The diagnosis of LOH requires biochemical and clinical components. Controversy in defining the clinical syndrome continues due to the high prevalence of hypogonadal symptoms in the aging male population and the non-specific nature of these symptoms. Further controversy surrounds setting a lower limit of normal testosterone, the limitations of the commonly available total testosterone result in assessing some patients and the unavailability of reliable measures of bioavailable or free testosterone for general clinical use. As with any clinical intervention testosterone treatment should be judged on a balance of risk versus benefit. The traditional benefits of testosterone on sexual function, mood, strength and quality of life remain the primary goals of treatment but possible beneficial effects on other parameters such as bone density, obesity, insulin resistance and angina are emerging and will be reviewed. Potential concerns regarding the effects of testosterone on prostate disease, aggression and polycythaemia will also be addressed. The options available for treatment have increased in recent years with the availability of a number of testosterone preparations which can reliably produce physiological serum concentrations.
Changes in body composition are seen with aging. In general terms, aging males are prone to loss of muscle mass and a gain in fat mass, especially in the form of visceral or central fat. An epidemiological study of community dwelling men aged between 24 and 85 years has confirmed that total and free testosterone levels are inversely correlated with waist circumference and that testosterone levels are specifically related to this measure of central obesity rather than general obesity (Svartberg, von Muhlen, Sundsfjord et al 2004). Prospective studies show that testosterone levels predict future development of central obesity (Khaw and Barrett-Connor 1992; Tsai et al 2000). Reductions in free testosterone also correlate with age related declines in fat free mass (muscle mass) and muscle strength (Baumgartner et al 1999; Roy et al 2002). Studies in hypogonadal men confirm an increase in fat mass and decrease in fat free mass versus comparable eugonadal men (Katznelson et al 1998). Taken together, the epidemiological data suggest that a hypogonadal state promotes loss of muscle mass and a gain in fat mass, particularly visceral fat and therefore mimics the changes of ‘normal’ aging.
And remember, saturated fats work best (along with monounsaturated fats – olive oil, almonds, avocados etc.). In fact higher intakes of polyunsaturated fats (canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, margarine etc.) are linked to LOWER testosterone levels (14 & 15). I explore the dangers of PUFA's in a lot more detail in this article - PUFA's: The Worst Thing For Your Health That You Eat Everyday.
The natural production of DHEA is also age-dependent. Prior to puberty, the body produces very little DHEA. Production of this prohormone peaks during your late 20’s or early 30’s. With age, DHEA production begins to decline. The adrenal glands also manufacture the stress hormone cortisol, which is in direct competition with DHEA for production because they use the same hormonal substrate known as pregnenolone. Chronic stress basically causes excessive cortisol levels and impairs DHEA production, which is why stress is another factor for low testosterone levels.
Bottom line: testosterone boosters aren’t right for a lot of people. We dive deep into ingredient research below, but typically, testosterone boosters contain at least one (and often three or more) different ingredients that each impact your circulatory system — both the heart and blood. If you’re taking any kind of blood-thinner medication, or you have a history of heart disease, these supplements can get really dangerous, really quickly. The simple fact of the matter is that hormones are tricky things to mess with, and a doctor should be your first port of call to help you safely achieve your goals — whether they’re related to fitness, weight, or libido.
Among my favorite stress management tools is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), a method similar to acupuncture but without the use of needles. EFT is known to eliminate negative behavior and instill a positive mentality. Always bear in mind that your emotional health is strongly linked to your physical health, and you have to pay attention to your negative feelings as much as you do to the foods you eat.