Working out does increase testosterone (T) levels — but not all exercise is created equal.
Moreover, if you’re trying to increase your testosterone levels, you may want to add other T level-boosting activities to your exercise program.
Keep reading to learn about the link between exercise and T levels, what exercises will (and won’t) increase your T levels, and how you can naturally increase your T levels.
Some types of exercises increase T levels. But your biological sex and the type of exercise you do influence how your T levels are affected.
Here’s a little background on just how T levels work in different people.
Testosterone is typically referred to as the sex hormone in men. But it’s found in everyone’s bodies — just not in the same amounts.
The adrenal glands also produce a little bit of testosterone. But depending on your sex, different areas produce different amounts.
In men, high levels of testosterone are produced in the testicles. T levels are among the primary hormones that contribute to changes that happen during the teenage years. These changes include:
- getting more muscle
- growing facial and pubic hair
- lowering your voice
In women, testosterone is produced in the ovaries in smaller amounts.
But healthy T levels are important for everyone throughout life. This is especially important as you get older to preserve your overall health and
- type 2 diabetes
- heart disease
Keep in mind that transgender individuals who are taking hormone supplements to suppress or add testosterone will not respond to exercise in the same way as we’ve described in this article, and
How exercise affects testosterone levels
Here’s what the research says about the impact of exercise on T levels:
- A 1983 study of T levels in men and women after lifting weights found that men experience significant increases of testosterone while women experience almost no increase.
2001 studyof women found that resistance training can temporarily increase testosterone and have an impact on fat distribution.
2004 studyof older men found that regular physical activity increased testosterone and growth hormone (GH) levels as well as have a positive effect on brain function.
yearlong exercise studypublished in 2008 of 102 men who previously didn’t exercise much found that levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) increased by 14.5 percent.
2012 studyof men found that exercising regularly was linked to higher T levels than men who were sedentary (didn’t work out at all).
2016 studyof men with obesity found that regular exercise did more to increase T levels than even losing weight.
And having healthy or heightened T levels can actually
As mentioned earlier, not all exercises affect T levels in the same way. Here are some of the best exercises that can help increase testosterone.
Resistance exercises are proven by research to help increase short- and long-term T levels.
Resistance training like weightlifting is the best type of exercise to boost testosterone in both the short and long term. It’s been found to be especially helpful for men.
But the effects aren’t the same for everyone. In an older study, one 30-minute weightlifting session increased T levels by 21.6 percent in men, but only 16.7 percent in women.
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) for men
HIIT is another proven way to boost testosterone, but only in men.
And other studies have supported this link, too:
Women need healthy T levels just like men.
But high T levels can be more harmful for women after a certain point. It can cause abnormal hair growth, balding, and acne.
And some of the same exercises that boost T levels in some can have the opposite effect on others.
HIIT for women
HIIT has been shown to reduce testosterone in women. This can be beneficial if T levels are too high.
There’s no evidence that cardio has any impact on your T levels, no matter your sex. In fact, too much cardio may reduce your T levels.
But weight loss in general can help balance your T levels and other factors that contribute to healthy levels of all hormones.
Here are some tips for increasing testosterone aside from (or in addition to) exercising:
- Eat a diet high in protein, fat, and carbs.
- Reduce your stress and levels of cortisol.
- Get out in the sunshine, or take vitamin D supplements.
- Try other vitamin supplements, such as zinc and vitamin B.
- Get about 7 to 10 hours of sleep every night.
- Take natural herbs, such as ashwagandha, horny goat weed, and ginger.
- For men, avoid exposure to chemicals that can increase natural estrogen, like BPA.
Resistance training and HIIT can both cause beneficial boosts to T levels, especially in men.
But having T levels that are too high can actually be harmful, especially in women.
Talk to your doctor to get tested for your baseline T levels before you take any action to increase or otherwise modify your T levels.