Raising Testosterone Levels:
Choose the right exercise
So proper exercise is important for raising testosterone levels, right? Of course.
But the keyword there is "proper."
Testosterone killer 1: long distance running
Going out for a run will help circulate some energy in your body, yes. It will be good for your blood circulation, too. Training for a marathon will even help to build inner resolve, focus, and determination. But if raising testosterone levels is important to you, then long distance running is not the best way to go.
While the difference between a marathoner and a power lifter may be obvious, the testosterone story goes deeper. For one thing, distance training reduces your muscle mass. With lower muscle muscle mass, you lose a key source of testosterone output. Another thing to consider is that long, slow distance, ie low-intensity training, fires the slow twitch muscles, which contribute much less in raising testosterone levels.
The scientific literature is pretty much unequivocal on the effect of endurance training on testosterone levels (1,2). And although the world class athletes are running sky-high metabolic rates and building lots of muscle, even they are not immune. A study of professional cyclists during the Tour of Spain stage race found that levels of testosterone decreased over the course of the race (3). Similar findings were observed for elite lightweight rowers (4).
But if you're a runner, the solution is very simple. Just include sprints in your workout. The evidence is equally clear that brief bouts of sprinting or high-intensity training will create anabolic-muscle building- conditions in your body (5).
Testosterone killer 2: cycling
Elsewhere we have talked about the importance of erections to raising testosterone levels. Basically, erections are a positive feedback loop for testosterone: the more you have, the better it gets. Anyone who's been in a new, passionate relationship can attest to that.
What does that have to do with cycling? Simple: Bicycle seats kill erections.
Yes, and it is supported by medical studies, too. Basically, when the whole weight of your upper body is pressing down on your perenium, you are depriving your penis of oxygen and damaging the blood vessels in your penis (6).
Fortunately, the type of bicycle seat you are using has an enormous impact on the genital oxygen pressure loss (7). A German study from 2002 found that wider seats, even seats designed for women, resulted in the least blood oxygen loss to the penis. Interestingly, these researchers found that a wide, leather seat was better than a narrow, heavily padded seat.
The bottom line?
As always, use your head. Long distance running is good for the soul, not the balls. Don't beat up on your perenium, you need that thing to work properly. This stuff isn't rocket science, but it can creep up on you if you're not looking.
Check out the right exercises for raising testosterone levels
1. Wheeler, GD, Wall, SR, Belcastro, AN, Cumming, DC. "Reduced serum testosterone and prolactin levels in male distance runners." JAMA. 252 514-6.
2. Wheeler, GD, Singh, M, Pierce, WD, et al. "Endurance training decreases serum testosterone levels in men without change in luteinizing hormone pulsatile release." J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 72 (1991) 422-5.
3. Lucia, A, Diaz, B, Hoyos, J, et al. "Hormone levels of world class cyclists during the Tour of Spain stage race." Br J Sports Med 35 (2001) 424-30.
4. Meckel, Y, Eliakim, A, Seraev, M, et al. "The effect of a brief sprint interval exercise on growth factors and inflammatory mediators." J Strength Cond Res. 23 (2009) 225-30.
5. Vinther, A, Kanstrup, IL, Christiansen, E, et al. "Testosterone and BMD in elite male lightweight rowers." In J Sports Med. 29 (2008) 803-7.
6. Colpi, Gm, Contalbi, G, Ciociola, E, Mihalca, R. "Erectile dysfunction and amatorial cycling." Arch Ital Urol Androl. 80 (2008) 123-6.
7. Schwarzer. U, Sommer, F, Klotz, T, et al. "Cycling and penile oxygen pressure: the type of saddle matters." European Urol. 41 (2002) 139-42.