During my experience as a coach and trainer I have come across a handful of clients who have had some kind of issue with producing sufficient testosterone. I, obviously, can’t go into too much detail regarding the specifics but each case has produced different effects.
One case I can think of results in great strength gains throughout training but not as much in terms of weight or size gains. The other says that his injections make him feel as though he’s going through puberty every few weeks, and if he goes a few weeks without it he gets dizzy and much, much weaker.
What does it do?
Testosterone, commonly referred to as ‘test’ by the gym bros of the internet, is a sex hormone. It’s though to regulate your sex drive (libido), muscle mass, fat distribution, strength, production of red blood cells and sperm. So, its pretty important to a variety of facets of life, not just training. While this site is more about training than anything, training should, at least partly, be about being the healthiest you can be. So all of these factors are vitally important to your training life.
I think mine is low, how do I find out?
I know of some cases in America where you can ask for a blood test to get it checked. It’s not quite as common in the UK, you can buy tests to do so but you are looking at about £120 to do so. Which is a little bit steep for the everyday person.
There are a number of side effects of low testosterone in men, such as : –
- Erectile dysfunction, including difficulty maintaining an erection/any changes in this department. Including the frequency and (lack of) spontaneity.
- Decreased libido.
- Rapid Hair Loss.
- Reduced muscle mass.
- Increased fat mass.
- Enlarged breasts.
- Sleep disturbances.
- Persistent fatigue.
- Brain fog.
While these by themselves could link into other issues, a combination of these could indicate a lack of testosterone in your body. If you have identified these symptoms then the next thing to do is to contact your doctor and try to find out what is going on.
Okay, so where do I get extra testosterone?
If you’re suffering from a few of those symptoms above then I understand why you might be tempted to rush off to find the easier way to get your hands on some testosterone injections. However, we also need to look at the causes of it being lower, as some of these are within your control.
The main factors contributing to low testosterone in men under 30 years of age are : –
- High cholesterol levels.
- High blood pressure.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
- Using illegal drugs.
- Using anabolic steroids.
- Taking certain prescription medications such as steroids and opiates, especially in excess.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that the majority of these factors link in to your lifestyle, mainly your diet and training. For some people, getting a bit healthier (i.e losing weight, becoming more active, drinking less) will be the way to go, rather than going for the crutch of an extra supplement.
It is worth keeping in mind that relying upon this type of supplement could also result in your body producing even less testosterone in the future. This is why the use of anabolic steroids can result in this, the body simply thinks it doesn’t need to do this job any more and stops.
There is an interesting case study on this over on Dr. Spencer Nadolky’s Facebook page, AKA the Doctor Who Lifts. You can find this here. You can see from this post that a lifestyle change will, not only increase testosterone, but improve your life in general in the long run also.
In terms of your lifestyle, if you feel like you have low testosterone, look at it like a symptom of something larger rather than it being the main problem overall.
In Relation to Strength.
So, we’ve covered why testosterone is good and lack of it is bad. Now, lets take a closer look at why it is so important in terms of strength.
Earlier, it was explained that it has a vital role in muscle mass production. It is one of the major proponents in building muscle mass, it does this via increasing the neurotransmitters in charge of encouraging muscle growth, while also interacting with nuclear receptors within DNA which then encourages protein synthesis. It also increases the production of growth hormone, which is a handy name, as this hormone increases the growth of your muscle mass.
Due to testosterone’s effect on red blood cells, it also has a healthy hand in bone density. You won’t get any bigger or stronger with a brittle foundation.
In terms of fat, it helps to metabolise it. People with lower testosterone generally have a higher fat mass.
You can see here how testosterone is vital in increasing muscle mass, bone density and leanness throughout the body. Without these things we have no potential for strength or even a weak foundation to begin with.
What to take away.
While an increase in testosterone is likely to be good in terms of muscle and strength benefits you need to look at why your body is not producing it sufficiently first before you even think of getting any kind of supplement, legally or illegally.
I hope that I have outlined here how low testosterone is more likely to be a symptom of something larger rather than a cause of it.
If you do feel like you might have low testosterone, employ some changes into your lifestyle.
Get your bodyweight down, your blood pressure down and your activity levels up. Improve your diet and general wellbeing and then look into more extreme avenues of dealing with it.
If you have a healthy circulation of testosterone you will find that you will be stronger, healthier, happier and generally more content in your life. But get it in the healthiest way you can.