The last couple of decades has seen a unique obsession with increasing testosterone to increase muscle mass. Instead of eating a well-balanced diet, hitting the weights, and taking a whey protein supplement once in a while, guys have become focused on boosting their testosterone in order to boost their shirt size. But is there a connection between more testosterone and more muscle?
Let’s take a look at what testosterone muscle growth is, the science behind t-levels and muscle growth, and whether testosterone injections for muscle building are a good idea.
- How Testosterone Increases Muscle Growth
- Other Factors Important for Muscle Building
- Different Ways to Increase Testosterone Levels
- Testosterone Injections for Muscle Building
- Can You Boost Testosterone Naturally Instead?
- What is the Best Testosterone Booster for Muscle Gain?
The biggest mistake that every muscle-bound weightlifter makes is assuming that higher testosterone levels automatically equate to more muscle mass.
Yes, testosterone is an anabolic agent that is required for muscle growth, but do you know what is equally as important? Androgen receptors.
Think of androgen receptors as gatekeepers. They are located throughout the body, but as far as muscle building is concerned, you can find them within muscle fibers. Androgen receptors are sites of activation. Testosterone and androgen receptors have a unique relationship: androgen receptors allow the muscle tissue to use circulating testosterone levels.
In order for testosterone to become useful for muscle building, it must first link up to an androgen receptor site and be granted permission to enter and do its thing: kickstart muscle protein synthesis. In other words, testosterone cannot help to build muscle until it’s been given the green light by the androgen receptor.
So, what happens if you have average or above-average levels of testosterone, but only a few androgen receptors? Your body won’t be able to utilize the circulating testosterone and your muscle-building ability will remain where it is or there might be a slight improvement.
Don’t take our word for it. Studies show that guys who had higher levels of androgen receptors built far more muscle than their peers who had low levels of androgen receptors.
So, is having high levels of testosterone useless for muscle building? Not at all. But you will need to focus on supporting natural levels of testosterone while increasing your androgen receptor responsivity. Here are a few proven ways to boost androgen receptor responsivity:
The first way to improve your androgen receptor responsivity for testosterone muscle building is with weight training. The good thing is that because you’re interested in skyrocketing your t-levels, you’re probably already hitting the weights (or planning to).
Studies show that when subjects performed a lower body weightlifting program (squats, leg presses, and leg extensions) three times per week, separated by two days of rest, they had significantly higher levels of androgen receptor activation.
Some studies suggest that intermittent fasting can help to boost androgen receptor activity. Using the 16 / 8 method, you avoid calories for 16 hours per day (water is okay), and you only eat during an 8-hour feeding window. Most people begin their intermittent fasting schedule at 8 p.m. and don’t eat until 12 p.m. the next day.
It’s no coincidence that whey protein is the number one supplement for building muscle. Studies show that it has a positive impact on androgen receptors, allowing more testosterone to be used to promote protein synthesis and muscle recovery. If you buy a whey protein supplement, we recommend going with the one that is free of synthetic additives and focuses on grass-fed cow’s milk.
While the foundation of your testosterone boosting and androgen receptor support should come in the form of a comprehensive workout and diet program, supplements may also help. Studies show that forskolin can help to trigger a better androgen receptor response. Your morning coffee does the same. Studies show that caffeine can help to promote androgen receptor activity.
While you’re increasing your androgen receptor responsivity, you should also focus on boosting t-levels. That way, you’ll have higher levels of testosterone as you improve the function of your androgen receptors, helping to spike muscle growth Remember that the two have a unique relationship; you can’t have one without the other and expect optimal results.
Just like we mentioned above, this is something you should already be doing (or planning to do) if you want to increase testosterone and androgen receptor responsivity simultaneously. Studies show that resistance training, especially weightlifting where you utilize 80% of your one-repetition maximum, is ideal for increasing testosterone levels.
The foods that you decide to eat can play a big part in how much testosterone your body is producing. A diet that focuses on healthy fats and lean proteins with a moderate amount of complex carbohydrates is going to help with testosterone production. On the other hand, if you’re eating a lot of processed foods and produce that’s been heavily treated with pesticides, you won’t be doing your t-levels any favors. Focus on all-natural and organic options when shopping and steer clear of the boxed stuff.
As we mentioned above, the key to more testosterone is in your lifestyle choices revolving around diet, exercise, and how you handle stress. Supplements can be used as a supplementary way to increase t-levels, but they shouldn’t be the main focus. There are a few proven supplements for testosterone building such as zinc, magnesium, and TestoGen, but we’ll discuss those more below.
Testosterone injections have become extremely popular as a way to increase testosterone levels. While they have become the go-to option for many men, we believe that testosterone injections should be the worst-case-scenario option. We discuss this more below.
Given the explosion in record-low testosterone levels in men during the last several decades, it’s no wonder why testosterone injections have become a household name. While beneficial, testosterone injections do come with a big downside as well.
Pros of Testosterone Injections
How fast does testosterone build muscle when you’re getting it in the form of injections? Very fast.
Studies show that testosterone injections can dramatically increase muscle size regardless of androgen receptor activity. Why? It’s because testosterone injections aren’t a simple 5% to 10% increase; it’s more like a 500% increase in your t-levels. This flooding of testosterone is going to promote a superior anabolic environment than if you naturally boost your testosterone through diet and exercise.
With that said, as you’ll see, just because it’s effective doesn’t mean it’s great for the long-term results.
Cons of Testosterone Injections
The biggest drawback to testosterone injections is that they shut down your body’s means of naturally producing its own testosterone. For some guys, injections are necessary because their production was already next to nothing. But for most guys, this is going to cause more problems than necessary.
When you use a testosterone injection, your body stops its own production because it already has so damn much! Now, when you stop taking the injections, your body’s production remains in nap mode. If you don’t implement t-boosting lifestyle changes including supplements and medications, then your testosterone levels will plummet and you can experience weight gain, muscle loss, and gyno (to name a few side effects of low t-levels).
As we mentioned above, we believe that it’s best to take the all-natural approach to testosterone boosting, leaving injections as a last resort.
You can easily increase your testosterone levels by making a few changes in your lifestyle and daily routine. It might take some getting used to, but being consistent in a few small changes can produce big results.
First, we’d recommend getting a blood test to confirm your current testosterone levels. Once you know what you’re working with, you know where to set your goal.
The first thing we’d recommend changing your diet, adding in more healthy fats like coconut oil and salmon while increasing your protein intake with turkey and Greek yogurt.
You can learn more about which foods to add into your diet with our comprehensive article on the best testosterone-boosting foods.
Next, you can start to focus on proven weight lifting techniques that increase both testosterone and androgen receptors. This is going to be a weightlifting workout that focuses on moving heavy weights (around 85% of your one-repetition maximum, on average).
You can read more about the perfect testosterone-boosting workouts for guys here.
Finally, you can use natural supplements to support healthy levels of testosterone. More specifically, you can use natural testosterone-boosting supplements.
The best testosterone booster for muscle gain is going to be made with natural ingredients, rather than synthetic compounds that could cause a number of side effects. Let’s take a look at a few of the best and proven testosterone-boosting ingredients:
ZMA: Containing zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B6, ZMA has become a very popular way to naturally increase testosterone levels. Studies show that each individual ingredient can support healthy t-levels. When combined and taken on an empty stomach, ZMA can do wonders for your testosterone levels.
Vitamin D: Also known as the sunshine vitamin, this ingredient is critical to testosterone production because it supports sex steroid hormones. Guys with low levels of vitamin D are almost guaranteed to have lower levels of testosterone as well.
TestoGen: A comprehensive testosterone booster, TestoGen contains ZMA, vitamin D, and several more ingredients that have been shown to promote healthy testosterone production. Instead of having to run out to the store to buy a collection of pill bottles, you can get everything you need in one. TestoGen has been shown to be effective as it contains the clinical dosages of proven ingredients.
Sure, you can increase muscle size with higher levels of testosterone, but that’s not the entire picture. You also need to boost your androgen receptor responsivity. Thankfully, you can use the same techniques to increase both simultaneously. Eat healthier, supplement with your diet with whey protein, hit the weights hard, and be consistent. If you believe that your testosterone levels are dangerously low, visit your doctor to discuss treatment options.