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Does Working Out Affect Testosterone Levels?

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All Types of Exercise Count

Endurance training and resistance training (such as weight lifting) both boost testosterone levels briefly, Schroeder says.

Lifting weights or doing other strength-training workouts has a bigger effect on your testosterone, Schroeder says. He says the following strategies will give you an even bigger boost in testosterone from your strength training workouts, which is backed up by research. 

  • Use more muscles. (For instance, a full-body workout affects this hormone more than doing one exercise, such as biceps curls.)
  • Lift heavier weights rather than doing many reps of light weights.
  • Have shorter rest periods during your workout.

Still, you should build an overall exercise plan that also includes cardio and flexibility training, so you're helping your overall health.

Overdoing it, though, could backfire. Elite athletes (and amateurs who overtrain), can see a drop their testosterone level, which is a sign that they’re doing harm to their bodies. In these cases, they tend to have low testosterone and high cortisol, a stress hormone, Schroeder says. He notes that a rise in cortisol can be linked to a fall in testosterone. 

Signs of overtraining include:

  • Excessive soreness
  • Trouble recovering from workouts
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Losses in performance and strength

Give yourself enough time to rest between workouts, and eat healthfully to help your body recover after workouts.

Isaacs discloses that he is on the speaker’s bureau for Abbott Laboratories, which markets a testosterone replacement product. Schroeder reports no disclosures.

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Reviewed on November 12, 2012

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