If you are a male, and an older male with type 2 Diabetes, then you probably have lower testosterone levels than you did in your 20's. Not a major discovery, as it is part of aging. The good news is that if you want to correct and change that, and are a little gun shy of taking a prescription form of "Testosterone" to correct the situation and its side effects, the good news is that eating right and weight resistance training can help a LOT.
I am going to post an article and website outlining the benefits of continuing to exercise both aerobically and weight resistance training the REST of your life. First let's talk about the downside of testosterone therapy. It seems that NOTHING IS REALLY FREE, especially when you are talking prescriptions. The same applies to prescription creams or gels to increase testosterone levels.
Men with a history or family history of prostate cancer, enlarged prostate and breast cancer, are NOT good candidates for testosterone therapy. Here are some of the MAJOR side effects:
- Fluid retention
- Liver toxicity
- Problems with fertility
- Sleep apnea
- Enlarged breasts
- Increased red blood cell concentration (Polycythemia)
- Enlarged prostate
LINK to possible dangers of testosterone therapy
THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT EXERCISE AND EATING RIGHT, CAN INCREASE YOUR TESTOSTERONE LEVELS WITHOUT ANY NEGATIVE SIDE EFFECTS:
Natural ways to increase testosterone levels with exercise and diet
Exercise and diet can increase natural testosterone -- without use of steroids, HGH or testosterone patchesThe time for testosterone has arrived. More to the point, men are starting to see testosterone as their fountain of youth, the hormone that can increase muscle size, reduce body fat, increase bone density, promote libido – and bring all the psychological benefits that accompany these things.
In fact, declining testosterone levels are associated with a diminution of these functions. And that decline begins in some individuals as early as age 40. Are lower testosterone levels inevitable? Not nearly to the degree that we think.
Of course, the fact that testosterone boosting medications (including HGH or human growth hormones) are now available – for example, Solvay Pharmaceutical's IsItLowT.com marketing push – suggests that this fountain of youth is a prescription away, as if it were a matter of popping a pill (or wearing a testosterone patch, or applying testosterone gel) and getting as immediate a benefit as, uh, one might get from a dose of Viagra or Cialis.
This is where the caution flag should be erected (ahem). So often in the past, meddling with nature results in unintended and adverse consequences. Just ask women about estrogen therapy.
MORE: (The following makes sense to me as I am NOT a fan of unwanted side effects)
But from a health standpoint, there was no benefit to use of human growth hormones. Study subjects experienced no drop in LDL (the bad cholesterol), no increase in HDL (good cholesterol), or changes in triglycerides, aerobic capacity, bone density or blood sugar and insulin levels. Just as important, there was "a high rate of side effects, including fluid retention, joint pain, breast enlargement and carpal tunnel syndrome. The studies were too short to detect any change in the risk of cancer, but other research suggests an increased risk of cancer in general and prostate cancer in particular."
For anyone younger than, say, 55 years old, does it make sense to risk adverse health effects with artificial testosterone increases?
Thankfully, if you wish to address declining testosterone levels, there are more natural ways available, and they don’t cost much in time or dollars. Better yet, those ways are associated with better health overall.
Testosterone levels in men (and women too, but I’m going with the assumption that the reader of this article is a man) can be raised with specific exercises and foods. Various studies cited at the close of this article back up these assertions with science.
Exercise: It’s about mass and intensity
Lou Schuler’s book, “The Testosterone Advantage Plan” (Simon and Schuster, 2003), makes a strong case for strength training over cardiovascular endurance training, such as marathon running, if a guy wants to promote healthy levels of testosterone. Aside from the obvious physical differences between bodybuilders and Olympic marathoners, individuals in these sports have different health and hormonal profiles. Short story: the weight lifters have higher levels of testosterone, and largely enjoy the benefits that come from it.
As a strength trainer and veteran triathlete, I think it’s not necessary to choose one over the other. I may not be a world class triathlete – carrying around muscle weight in fact slows me down ¬– but my bones and muscles can withstand a lot more of life because I’m also strong (and at the age of 50, thus far have no knee problems despite all that running). I really don’t care all that much about my race times; just the fact that I train appropriately for races and get through them with relative vigor is good enough for me. My philosophy is that health is the goal, not some numbers on a clock.
Research on exercise and testosterone indicates that it’s more than going through the motions of weight lifting. What seems to optimally affect testosterone levels is to use the greatest volume of existing muscles to your maximum level of intensity within each exercise. That means using multiple muscle groups within each exercise to the point where your muscles fail – i.e., you cannot complete another repetition with acceptable form.
In a formula: Muscle mass x exercise intensity = maximum testosterone increase
This is about total muscle mass being involved. Since leg and back muscles are the largest muscles, that then suggests (actually, it’s proven; follow the links below) that exercising these areas will increase testosterone levels. Better, engage the core muscles and even the upper body along with the legs and back within a single exercise and your bloodstream with just be coursing with testosterone immediately following each set (yes, the increase is that immediate).
Here are a couple of key indicators of intense exercise: Did you experience absolute failure on your last rep (i.e., you could not lift the weights with proper form one more time), and are you panting for air? Because the mass of muscles being worked need oxygen, you need to breathe heavily in the moment.
Following are four example exercises. Note that anyone engaging in exercise for the first time should first consult a doctor, and would additionally benefit from working with a personal trainer so as to achieve good form. A trainer or training buddy would provide an additional safety factor, spotting you as you drive toward maximum intensity.
Free weight squats and lunges. Dipping low then pressing up with the legs while carrying a load of weight engages several major leg muscles but also those in the torso. For proper form, see the YouTube link for “Proper Squat Form.”
Note that squat can cause significant injury to the back if performed incorrectly. For the beginner, try squatting with just your body weight, or a barbell with no weights to start. Work up your strength and confidence before attempting very heavy weights.
Cable or elastic band squat-presses.
A variation on the squat is to grasp cables or elastic bands in your hands which you press upward at the top (standing segment) of the squat. This engages the shoulder muscles along with those in the legs and core. Choose a level of resistance that has you fatiguing to failure after ten repetitions.
Row-flyes from a staggered standing position.
Stand with the legs staggered, i.e., one foot about 2-3 feet behind the other, toes on both feet pointed forward, with torso pitched forward (forming a straight line from your back ankle through your hips and to the shoulders). Hold dumbbells at your side, then raise the dumbbells to shoulder level. Pause the weights at the top, then slowly drop them down. To add a lot more to the exercise, hinge both legs down as you lower the weights, then hinge back up as your arms and shoulders raise the dumbbells. Repeat to failure.
Sprinting runs or high-resistance bike spins.
Yes, what we consider “cardio” work can increase testosterone also. These are the high-output sets, when you run or bike at maximum speed, better yet heading uphill or against a high-resistance setting on a trainer bike. Experienced runners and bikers call this interval training; indoor ride (“spin”) classes generally employ this drill. Go hard for ten, 15 or 20 seconds, at 100% effort, then slow to a moderate pace before you pick up that sprinting level of output again. Repeat the cycle between four and ten times.
A note on achieving “failure:” As mentioned, this is the state where you cannot lift another rep. If you are at rep 7 or 8 and aren’t near that, slow your pace dramatically to a ten second lift and ten second drop. This is also a sign you should increase the weight level on the next set.
An added benefit of high intensity training is that it can be accomplished in less time than other types of workouts. In fact, you advised to limit rest in between sets, perhaps packing your high intensity workout into as little as 30 or 45 minutes. For more on this, see the Hub page by this writer titled “Increase exercise intensity: add muscle, reduce body fat and improve overall health with no pills and no steroids.”
'Bless the Lord oh my soul and forget not all His benefits.. Who forgives all your sins, Who heals all your diseases' - Ps103:v2
'I have heard your prayer and seen your tears.. behold I will heal you' -11Kings 20:5