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How to Train for High Natural Testosterone

The testosterone-enhancing properties of resistance training have been known for several decades. However, not all forms of exercise are equally effective for this purpose.

Hormones are basically your body’s powerful messengers.

When your body has to adapts to a stimulus, it does so by releasing hormones.

Those hormones then tell the organs what to do. Testosterone, among other things, is the hormone that signals the need to grow muscle tissue.

After lifting weights, the androgen receptors in the muscle tissue activate and free testosterone molecules will bound to the receptors. That is when muscle growth start to take place.

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You now understand why steroids build muscle even without training. Supra-physiological amounts of testosterone will bind to the androgen receptors anyway and fools muscles into getting bigger even if they don’t need to.

Usually we lift weights in order to gain muscle and strength – the raise in testosterone is just the side effect.

But even if you flip the script and chase testosterone instead of muscle growth, the ideal training style is still the same. Both will happen anyway.

So training for high natural testosterone is basically the same as training for muscle and strength. It can all be summarized in one phrase: Gain strength over time in a medium rep range focusing mostly on big compound exercises.Screenshot (29)

There is maybe one key difference. When your goal is to maximize T production you should keep volume moderate, even if a higher volume routine would be better for muscle and strength gains.

The reason for that is because testosterone is indirectly correlated with cortisol – the stress hormone. `

If you put too much stress on your body through high volume workouts, cortisol goes up and that causes testosterone to decrease in a dose dependent manner.

How to Set Up Your Training

So the real question to ask is: What’s the best way to lift weights for muscle and strength?

Any training program is built on three pillars:

  • Volume
  • Intensity
  • Frequency

All of these need to be set in a way that complement each other and together create an adaptive stimulus. The best researchers and coaches in the world agree that a good default formula for muscle growth would be this:

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40-100 heavy reps per muscle group per week

40-100 easier reps per muscle group per week

70% of those reps should be on big compound exercises

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With this formula you’re hitting all the main points.

Low-rep, high-weight strength training is vital for building large amounts of muscle over the long term. But pure strength programs tend to be very low volume, which isn’t optimal for increasing testosterone levels.

So what you want to do is a “hybrid” approach that emphasizes heavy compound weightlifting and a higher weekly volume.

This way the intensity is high enough to cause growth and you’re doing enough volume to trigger an adaptive response.

And there’s a reason why you should focus mostly on compound exercises.

It is commonly accepted that to optimally increase testosterone from training, you have to activate as much muscle tissue as possible in the shortest amount of time.

This is known as the Testosterone Work Principle.

Compound exercises like weighted chins, dips, squats, deadlifts, bench press, shoulder press and so on elicit a larger hormonal response than isolation exercises.

You can even go one step forward and look at what kind of muscle tissue you are activating.

Your body biologically has more androgen receptors in certain muscle tissue groups than in others. For men, a lot of these androgen receptors reside in the upper body.Screenshot (32)

So the cherry on top of it all is to focus on the muscle tissues with the highest amount of androgen receptor density.

Your lower body has a large amount of actual muscle tissue which will translate into a lot of testosterone production through big movements.

Unfortunately, there is research showing that regardless of how much you train your lower body, you’ll never be able to increase the androgen receptor density in that muscle tissue.

However – you can do it in your upper body. This way you’ll have more androgen receptors available for the elevated level of Testosterone and GH released from training.

Here’s what Chris Walker of has to say about this:

“I actually find bodyweight exercises to work best for this.

My routine is built around weighted chin-ups, weighted dips, muscle-ups and weighted muscle-ups and other bodyweight exercises.

In fact when I initially raised my testosterone to over 1000 ng/dL I was doing a purely bodyweight workout routine.”

How to Do Cardio For Testosterone Optimization

Before we wrap up I want to address one more thing: Cardio.

Doing a lot of cardio puts a lot of stress on the body which in turn elevates cortisol production. As a result testosterone levels go down significantly.

Here’s Chris again:

“I speak from experience because I used to be a triathlete. Even with all the training I was doing I still had belly fat and very little muscle mass.

When I started focusing on strength instead of endurance, my testosterone levels shoot up and my physique improved dramatically.

Now, if you need to do cardio, do only short sessions, not going above 2-3 hours per week. Also, high intensity interval training would be much better than moderate intensity cardio.”

So in order to maximize T production through training, focus on these points:

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  1. Juan on August 11, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    Hey Radu, I know too much cardio can affect strenght but what if for my situation. I have to ride a bike to the gym and it takes roughy 25-30 mins. Will it affect my strength?

  2. Alex on May 28, 2018 at 4:39 am

    Salut Radu,
    Sunt stabilit in Statele Unite de multi Ani,mi-am propus un obiectiv foarte greu si am nevoie de un sfat foarte specific daca ai putin timp.
    Masuratorile mele sunt:
    Weight 160
    Waist 29
    Body fat approx 8-9%
    Sunt tip slab genetic cu catabolism foarte rapid,fost gimnast,mananc orice,cu multa vointa am adaugat 10lb in ultimul an,majoritate muschi,talia a ramas aceeasi.
    Doresc sa fac urmatorul pas si sa masor asa:
    29 waist
    4% body fat
    Calculul meu este sa adaug 10lb la greutate,apoi sa ‘cut’ gandind ca pierd masa musculara si grasime,10lb cu totul.
    Ce workout sa fac?
    1. Compound si low volume?
    2.Hypertrophy si Compound?
    3.De trei ori pe saptamana fiecare grupa musculara,cu un total de 30 seturi de 12-14 repetitii pe set pe saptamana.
    Ce combinatie de Macros sa folosesc ideal in dieta?
    Vreau sa imi acord un an,Nu ma intereseaza steroizi si alte ajutoare,nu iau preworkout,doar proteina ca ajutator la necesarul zilnic,sporadic insa.
    Multumesc anticipat pentru raspuns,nu am fost foarte specific in speranta sa nu te plictisesti inainte sa raspunzi!
    Alex Florea

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