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Your question, answered: Does lifting weights increase testosterone levels?

It makes sense that lifting weights could evoke higher testosterone levels.

Written by
Imogen Kars
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
May 11, 2023
min read
Your question, answered: Does lifting weights increase testosterone levels?
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Testosterone is the holy grail of hormones for men — known as the male sex hormone, it is the driver behind the characteristics that make men, well, er, men.

But, can lifting heavy weights boost testosterone? Well, we're armed with the knowledge that exercise may increase testosterone levels, so it makes sense that lifting weights would evoke the same result. Let's dive into it!

What is testosterone?

First things first, testosterone is a hormone that gives men muscle mass, bone density, body hair and the drop in their voice as they cruise through puberty. It's also in charge of regulating important functions like sex drive, muscle and bone mass, muscle strength, fat distribution and red blood cell production.

Testosterone also determines the development of the penis and testes as well as the growth of facial hair and sperm production [1]. Testosterone levels also help to maintain a normal mood for men. It's controlled by signals sent to the brain from the pituitary gland, which sits at the base of the brain.

This gland relies on signals sent to the testes to produce testosterone.

There's a mechanism that closely regulates the amount of hormones that are released into the bloodstream — and when the levels are too high, the brain reduces the production [2]. But despite testosterone being the dominant male hormone, it's also important for women, too.

Testosterone is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands and plays a role as one of several androgens in females. These hormones are said to have an effect on things like ovarian function, bone strength and libido.

What causes low testosterone?

Low testosterone levels is also known as male hypogonadism, and it affects the testes in a number of ways. But how is it caused?

Well, it's natural for a man's hormone levels to decline gradually as he ages, which usually starts at around 30 years old and continues at an average of one per cent throughout his life.

On the other side of the spectrum, there's also a wide range of other causes that can lead to low testosterone levels [3].

These include:

  • Injury to the testes, which inhibits testosterone production
  • Chemotherapy
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Dysfunction or tumours in the pituitary gland
  • Medications like opioids, hormones or steroids
  • Acute or chronic disease
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Kidney failure
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Obesity or extreme weight loss
  • Estrogen excess

The symptoms largely depend on the age of the person, but if you're feeling depressed, tired, and experience a low libido, erectile dysfunction, difficulties with concentrating or a loss in muscle mass, make sure you book a consult with a doctor to discuss what might be going on.

Does working out increase testosterone?

While the literature is murky on the direct effects that exercise has on the levels of testosterone, there's no doubt that having a healthy workout routine is beneficial for the production of testosterone [4].

Consistent exercise is key to healthy testosterone levels — but your weight, fitness level, age and when you work out can also play a role in how big of an effect exercise can have on your testosterone levels.

So what do we know? Well, we know for a fact that testosterone levels increase after exercise — especially intense, heavy strength training regimens. The rise can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, and most men experience a greater and longer rise in testosterone levels while exercising in the evening.

It's also important to note that new exercisers will experience a bigger boost in testosterone levels, but over time their levels will adapt [5].

While research shows testosterone levels are boosted due to exercise, there haven't been any studies so far that show the effects of exercise if you're low in testosterone.

Does lifting weights increase testosterone?

While all kinds of exercise help increase testosterone in one way or another, research shows that heavy weight training is one of the best ways to boost testosterone levels. Because of the rapid and consistent muscle mass increase triggered by weight training, the body is pushed to produce more testosterone [6].

Experts suggest performing two sets of three to five reps at 95 per cent of your maximum effort — this targets larger muscle groups like the quadriceps, hamstrings, back and chest.

But it's important not to ignore the smaller muscle groups, too. The biceps, calves and shoulders hold the key to a balanced and effective workout routine.

Overall, strengthening your whole body can help prevent injury, speed up your metabolism and keep your testosterone level in check.  

Exercise combats obesity

The experts are still ironing out the direct link between testosterone and exercise, but there's no doubt that the indirect health benefits make it all worth the sweat. Obesity is a major factor in experiencing significantly lower testosterone levels, and regular exercise (as well as a healthy and balanced diet) can keep weight in check.

Therefore, your hormone levels can absolutely be boosted by a balanced training regimen or workout routines [7]. Both endurance exercise and weight training increase testosterone in this way.

And, while cardio is renowned for burning fat, resistance training and weight training can support you to gain lean muscle mass, which leads back to a boosted metabolism and healthier hormone levels.

While exercise can play an important role in weight loss, the other part of the equation is food. That's where Pilot's Weight Reset Shakes can come in handy. These premium meal replacement shakes are formulated to take care of your dietary needs, while also assisting in weight loss.

On the Rapid weight loss plan, which consists of replacing two meals per day with the Weight Reset Shakes, it's normal to lose up to 2kg a week for the first four to six weeks, then 0.8kg each week beyond that [8].

The Steady weight loss plan, which replaces one meal per day with a shake, can help you lose four per cent of your body weight in 12 weeks, when combined with a low-calorie diet [9].

What exercises increase testosterone?

Every kind of exercise will increase testosterone, but some are renowned for boosting it a little more effectively than others. As we mentioned above, the research shows that weight training and heavy lifting is the best form of exercise for boosting testosterone due to the way it triggers muscle growth [10].

High-intensity interval training is also a great mode of exercise to boost testosterone. Studies show that resting for one to two minutes between each interval is the best way to do things.

But let's let the experts weigh in for a second — despite both of these exercises working wonders, there's no better way to go about it than combining both strength training and endurance training.

Your best bet might be consistent weight training for 30 to 45 minutes two or three times a week, and kicking it up a gear on your days off with cardiovascular exercise.

Quality training is bound to make a world of difference to your body composition, which directly affects your hormones. You can also think about incorporating a daily supplement into your routine that is formulated to support the production of testosterone.

Pilot's Testosterone Support aids testosterone synthesis, while also supporting your immune system and maintaining skin health. The combination of zinc, vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin A and manganese in our Testosterone Support supplement can help boost vitality.

When your testosterone levels are in a healthy place, you can experience a stabilised mood, self-esteem and concentration, while low testosterone can lead to reduced libido, low energy and reduced muscle mass.

Photo Credit: Sam Moghadam Khamseh via Unsplash

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