Exercise increases testosterone levels (T) – but not all training is the same. Also, if you are trying to increase your testosterone levels, you may want to add other T-level boosting activities to your exercise program.
The link between exercise and testosterone
Some types of exercises increase the T-level. But your biological gender and the kind of exercise you do affect how your T-levels are affected.
Testosterone is commonly referred to as the sex hormone in men, but it is found in everyone’s bodies – just not in equal amounts.
The adrenal glands also produce some testosterone. However, depending on the gender, different areas have different amounts.
In men, high testosterone levels are produced in the testicles. T-levels are among the primary hormones that contribute to changes in adolescence. These changes include:
- gain more muscle
- growing facial hair and pubic hair
- lower your voice
- In women, testosterone is produced in the ovaries in smaller amounts.
Healthy T-levels are essential for everyone, especially as you get older, to maintain your to reduce the risk of certain conditions and overall health, such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
How exercise affects testosterone levels
Here is what the research says about the effect of training at T-levels:
- A 1983 study of T-levels in men and women after weightlifting found that men experience a significant increase in testosterone while women experience almost no gain.
- A 2001 study found that resistance training can temporarily increase testosterone and affect fat distribution.
- A study of older men found that regular physical activity increased testosterone and growth hormone (GH) levels and positively affected brain function.
- A year-long training study published in 2008 by 102 men who previously did not exercise much found that dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels increased by 14.5 percent.
- A 2012 study of men found that regular exercise was associated with higher T levels than sedentary men (did not work at all).
- A study of men with obesity found that regular exercise increased T-levels than lost weight.
- And having healthy or elevated T-levels can actually help you build more muscle than if your T-levels are a little or very low.
Best exercises to increase testosterone
As mentioned earlier, not all exercises affect the T-level in the same way. Here are some of the best exercises that can help increase testosterone.
Research has proven resistance exercises to help increase short- and long-term T-levels. Resistance training such as weightlifting is the best type of training to increase testosterone in both the short and long term. It is beneficial for people with penises.
A study from 2007 found that men who trained strength/resistance three days a week for four weeks were associated with increases in T-levels immediately after a training session and over time.
But the effects are not the same for everyone. In an older study, 30-minute weightlifting increased T-level by 21.6 percent in men but only 16.7 percent in women.
And some studies suggest that T-level gains can only be temporary in women.
Another older study found that T-levels increased in young and older men after three sets of 8 to 10 weightlifters. However, other sex hormones such as GH were more likely to increase in younger men than older men.
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
HIIT is another proven way to increase testosterone.
A study in men found that interval training consisting of 90 seconds of intense treadmill running interspersed with 90-second recovery periods increased free T-levels more significantly than just running for 45 minutes straight.
And other studies have also supported this link:
- A study from 2013 found that taking DHEA supplements and five sessions of 2-minute cycling exercises increased the T-level in younger and older men.
- A study from 2014 found that HIIT increased T-levels in men.