Testosterone is a big deal these days. Because the current thirty-somethings train harder then their parents did at the same age, 40 is the new 30. Men want to compete longer and stronger. When we men hit the mid thirties, testosterone production has already begun to decrease, and we feel it.
Recovery from intense workouts takes longer. We don’t seem to gain as much in the gym as we used to. And energy levels are seemingly dropping like the stock market.
Unfortunately, unless prescribed by your doctor, it is illegal. And there is a reason for this. Uncontrolled growth hormone injections (a.k.a. “steroids,” “the juice,” etc) lead to a myriad of health hazards. Including high cholesterol, acne, development of breast tissue and erectile dysfunction, just to name a few.
Personally, I don’t advise it.
Another option is the new fad amongst thirtysomething professional athletes: Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT). This is a procedure in which testosterone and similar androgenic compounds are injected directly into the patient.
It is supposed to bring your testosterone levels back to their normal peak amounts, and does not overload your system the way steroids do.
This way, a man in his thirties can produce the same levels of testosterone as he did in his peak years, which is the mid to late twenties.
Because this is the johnny-come-lately therapy for low testosterone, we do not fully understand what the drawbacks could be if used for a prolonged period. Early reports of heightened cholesterol levels are the worst symptoms uncovered so far.
My own opinion is that, any time we cheat Nature, we’ll pay a cost somewhere down the line.
And unless you suffer from a condition which causes extremely low testosterone and therefore interferes with you regular life, I would not recommend TRT. It is too much of a mystery at this point.
Are There Any Natural Options?
Fortunately, yes there are. They will not reproduce the same results as steroids or TRT but they are 100% natural and therefore approved by nature’s God and will never turn around to bite you in the behind 10 years down the road.
Here are the Top 10 All-Natural Testosterone Boosters you need in your life:
You need at least 6 hours straight each night. If you chronically fall short of this mark, your cortisol levels will spike. And cortisol is the kryptonite to testosterone, it curbs its production. Not good!
2. Reduce Stress
Chronically elevated stress also spikes up your cortisol levels and this interferes with testosterone production. If you are working too much and not enjoying enough down time, you are not only living a depressing life, you are wilting your manliness! Reduce your load, delegate more and learn to say no to others and yes to yourself (within reason).
The more, the better. Especially morning sex. High degrees of sexual activity trigger the testes into dynamic activity, which also bumps up testosterone production. If you can’t get on board with this facet of natural testosterone boosting, you are truly a slacker…
4. Physical Training
This is perhaps the most important of the advice on the Top 10 list. Plus, it provides multiple benefits beyond increased testosterone enhancement. Yet, you most observe a few rules:
A. High Intensity
Your workouts should be short bursts of high intensity, such as sprinting versus a long walk or run.
B. Heavy Weights
You will need to incorporate weight lifting and use very heavy weights (that YOU can safely handle). You’ll know you’re lifting heavy enough if the weights you chose limit your sets to less than 10 repetitions.
Zinc helps synthesize testosterone. So take plenty of it in pill or natural forms (such as roast beef and oysters).
6. Vitamin D
Another synthesizer of testosterone is Vitamin D. 20 minutes of sun exposure (without a shirt on) as well as 2 cups of milk will be enough each day. You can also take it in pill form.
Egg whites, soy proteins, game meats (e.g.: moose) are all rich in leucine. You can also find leucine in supplement form. It is an amino acid that helps the formation of testosterone.
8. Healthy Fats
Nuts, seeds, fish and natural oils are all chalk full of healthy fats. The Japanese, scandinavian and mediterranean are rich in nut and fish oils.
In fact, over 30% of the daily calorie intake for these diets are in healthy fats. Yet they produce the lowest heart disease and diabetes rates in the world.
If your intake of calories through fat drops below 30% of your total daily intake, your testosterone will suffer.
9. Cruciferous Vegetables
These “green leafy veggies” such as cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli help your body cleanse itself from “bad” estrogens, which can interfere with your testosterone production.
10. Lose the belly
Being overweight brings a myriad of health problems and aesthetic nastiness. Now you can add lowered testosterone levels to the list. If you’re binging on junk food and sitting on the couch, implement a healthy, overall diet to the above recommendations and watch your testosterone levels go up and up…
A fast-growing movement in the fitness industry is to train for less time at a higher intensity.
One such training method is the High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). This “new” type of training approach comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. But the basic concept is to keep moving for 15 to 20 minutes and alternating between all out effort (like a 100 meter sprint) and low effort exercises.
But you never sit idle. You are constantly on the move. Whether with sprints, weights, body-weight-only plyometrics or any combination thereof. You just keep it going and go up and down the intensity spectrum.
This keeps the heart working harder than a continual one hour workout would.
And it takes less time.
Researchers have begun to point to the fact that people who train 20 or so minutes at high intensity burn more fat than others training at moderate to high intensity for one full hour.
The reason being that one hour training sessions tend to fatigue the individual who then goes on to have a more lethargic day outside the gym.
Whereas the 20 minute high intensity trainee is more likely to be less drained and more active outside the gym and therefore lose more calories overall.
Another reason why high intensity, short duration workouts may be better overall is that the type of intensity involved is so high, that you can never keep it up for 60 minutes.
Only about 20 minutes.
Therefore you are reaching a higher peek than with traditionally long gym sessions. This seems to trigger a certain metabolic response that longer sessions at lower intensity do not.
rev up your metabolic engine with higher intensity training
This should be good news to busy people who have jobs and even marriage and kids in their lives but still want to make significant gains in the fitness department.
“I can’t psychologically keep up with high intensity training all the time”
Neither could I… when I first started.
The answer is to introduce high intensity training once per week. Eventually you can make it more a part of your weekly workouts.
And you never have to get to a point where all you do is high intensity.
Crossfit type gyms are great, but the emphasis on 100% high intensity training all the time is tolerated by very few people. I personally do 2 to 3 of these types of workouts per week, but never 5 or more.
Google “High Intensity Interval Training workouts”, pick a beginner version and try it out. It may be the time saver you’ve been looking for.
One of my most common exercise prescriptions for low back patients is aquarobics classes in the deep end of the pool. I discovered the benefits of deep aquarobics 4 years ago when I joined my wife at a session here in town. I had been skeptical because from an observer stand point, it seemed “Mickey Mouse” exercises. Too easy to have any benefits.
Boy was I wrong!
Within 15 minutes of the class I could feel my core muscles fully engaging and feeling the work out.
The flotation belt keeps you from having to tread water and instead, you concentrate on keeping the body upright as your arms and legs go through complex movement patterns.
All the movement has to be balanced from the core. Or else you’ll quickly be snorting pool water. It is a great way to teach someone how to co-ordinate their body with their core and then to maximally engage their core… without having to say a word!
One of the reasons I like to see low back pain patients in these types of classes is that it is weightless. So disc patients can enjoy rigorous core training without pain.Further, they are learning core control and movement co-ordination which is very helpful out of the water.
Another major benefit of deep aquarobics is the constant resistance every movement experiences due to being submerged in fluid. This greatly boosts the calorie burning and ads a fat-loss/muscle toning component.
If you struggle with low back pain and have a difficult time with land-based rehab exercises, try 2 or 3 deep fit aquarobic classes to see if your body agrees with it.
If it does, sign up on a long-term basis. I think 2 classes per week on top of a land-based core program is key to maintaining low back health.
Personally, I’ve been very pleased with the program at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre here in Victoria, B.C. I recommend you give them a call.
And don’t let the fact that many participants seem to be only talking and floating, if you do what the instructor says, you will get a back-safe workout!