There are a number of hormones that play a critical role in bodybuilding and strength training in general - testosterone being one of them. Though primarily responsible for the regulation of primary and secondary characteristics, testosterone also influences muscular development and fat tissue distribution. So, when levels drop it can have an affect on your muscle mass and overall performance.
Some notable indicators of low testosterone levels include:
- Lowered sex drive
- Increased difficulty in achieving an erection
- Low mood or mood swings
- Lower semen volume
- Increased body fat
- Hair loss
- Loss of muscle mass
- Decreased bone density
See also: Low Testosterone Symptoms in Men: Your Quick Guide to Low Testosterone
Testosterone levels and bodybuilding: What's the connection?
Testosterone is crucial in the development and maintenance of muscle mass and strength - this is why healthy levels are important in bodybuilding and strength training in general.
Testosterone creates and preserves bone density and with low levels of testosterone, bones tend to become quite weak and more likely to fracture or break . Essentially, if your testosterone levels are low - you may not be performing at your best.
Other effects low testosterone may have on your training include :
- Low energy levels
- Poor concentration levels
- Poor memory skills
See also: Is Testosterone a Steroid? Testosterone and Anabolic Steroids
How to build muscle with low testosterone levels
If you’re currently training with suspected low testosterone, the best way to move forward is to improve your levels. You can start by checking your testosterone levels and adopting the following lifestyle changes to improve them :
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Eat protein-rich foods (Read about foods that effect testosterone levels here!)
- Get sufficient sleep
- Moderate alcohol intake
- Avoid smoking
How does testosterone affect muscle growth?
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone that controls male characteristics and plays a number of important roles in male puberty. One of these roles includes the building of muscles and strong bones. If a man doesn’t have healthy testosterone levels, his bones might become weak and he may be more at risk of breaking or fracturing his bones.
If a man is living with low testosterone over a long period of time, it’s common to experience a decrease in muscle and bone strength, as well as less energy and lower fertility. Studies have shown that treatment for low testosterone can help in decreasing body fat and potentially increasing muscle size as well as strength; ultimately demonstrating the role testosterone plays in muscle growth. It’s important to note that testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), is only recommended for those with clinical hypogonadism.
See also: What is Testosterone Replacement Therapy?
Can bodybuilding cause low testosterone levels?
Men’s testosterone levels naturally begin to decline as they age - this is a completely natural thing! With that said, there are some other factors that may affect testosterone levels, including intense exercise. While too much exercise may not have a major impact on your testosterone levels, it is possible for it to temporarily lower testosterone levels. Poor nutrition and serious illness can also affect your testosterone levels for a limited time.
Remember, no matter how much you enjoy your time working out - it’s important to enjoy resting and recovering just as much. When it comes to overtraining, there are some signs you should keep in mind, these include:
- Sore or painful muscles
- Persistent injuries
- Loss of motivation
See also: Male Hypogonadism: Signs, Symptoms, and Causes
LetsGetCheckeds at-home lab Testosterone Test identifies low testosterone levels which can in turn help boost performance. Online results will be available in just 5 days as well as a follow-up call with one of our dedicated nurses to explain your results and the next steps you should take.
You should take a testosterone test, coupled with a cortisol test if you are about to embark on a heavy training and a restrictive diet, especially if you are training competitively.
You should also consider measuring your testosterone levels if:
- You have or have had prostate cancer
- You are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy
- You suffer from Klinefelter syndrome
- You suffer from prediabetes,type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- You suffer from hemochromatosis or iron deficiency anemia
- You have a pituitary gland disorder
- You are overweight or obese
- You suffer from chronic stress
- You take anabolic steroids or protein powders
- You have a family history of hormonal imbalances
- You have an over or underactive thyroid
- You suffer from kidney or liver disease
- You have or have previously suffered from anorexia nervosa
See also: How do you Check Testosterone Levels From Home?