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Do Squats/Deadlifts Increase Testosterone?

Originally Posted by ModestoMan
Interesting study, Marinera. I wonder when the IGF-1 was sampled (post-workout, during the workout, or at rest).

Fortunately, the full version of the study is free:
“Blood samples were obtained from an antecubital vein. All subjects reported for blood sampling in the morning after an overnight fast.

For Team 1M, samples were obtained between ~6:00 and 9:00 AM.

For Teams 2F and 2M, fasting samples were obtained between 6:00 and 11:00 AM. Initial samples were obtained at the start of training. Second samples were taken after ~2 mo of training for each team. Third samples were obtained after ~4 mo of training.

This 2- to 4-mo time point represented an interval with the highest training volume completed by all teams. A fourth sample was obtained only from Team 1M, when they were in the middle of their taper on the next to last week of the season. Final samples were obtained ~1 wk after the last competition for Team 1M and after 11-13 days (for 1 subject after 1 wk) after the last competition for Teams 2F and 2M. “
Two previous studies have evaluated the effects of training on resting total IGF-I concentrations (26, 27).
Poehlman et al. (26) observed that cycling training of low-to-moderate intensity for 8 wk partially reverses the age-related decrease in IGF-I concentrations observed in older individuals.

More recently, Roelen et al. (27) found in young subjects that more intense cycling training twice a day for 2 wk produced a 37% increase in resting total levels of IGF-I.

Our results, obtained with young swimmers, showed a positive effect of training on serum levels of total IGF-I. The most striking effects were found for Team 1M, with increases of 70-80% over the last three measurement points.

However, the fact that after 2 mo of training only modest changes in total IGF-I had occurred (women had even lower values) in all groups suggests that a relatively long course of training is required to realize peak adaptive increases in total IGF-I with this type of training. Furthermore, these data show that the elevated total IGF-I concentrations persist even with marked reductions in training volume.

A consistent finding from this work is that resting serum cortisol concentrations became elevated in all groups only at the last measurement, after the taper phase of training and the last competition had been over for 1-2 wk. It is possible that the effects of the high-intensity training and the stress of competition contributed to this phenomenon. Nevertheless, the reason as to why this effect is found at this point of training is unknown.
Full text IGF-1 and training

The study leads to wonder if there is an higher produciton of GH linked to the amount of higher free IGF-1, or maybe a more efficient use of GH, since:
IGF-1 is a primary mediator of the effects of growth hormone (GH). Growth Hormone is made in the pituitary gland, is released into the blood stream, and then stimulates the liver to produce IGF-1…factor_1#Action

On the same subject:
Effect of training on the GH/IGF-I axis during exercise in middle-aged men: relationship to glucose homeostasis

Jérôme Manetta, Jean Frederic Brun, Laurent Maimoun, Albert Callis, Christian Préfaut, and Jacques Mercier

The aim of this study was to compare circulating levels of growth hormone (GH), IGF-I, and IGF-binding protein (IGFBP)-1 and IGFBP-3 in response to a long-duration endurance exercise in trained vs. sedentary middle-aged males and to determine whether a relationship with glucose homeostasis exists.

Seven trained men (Tr) were compared with seven age-matched sedentary men (Sed) during two trials of 60 min of cycling exercise performed below (-VT) and above (+VT) the ventilatory threshold.

Insulin sensitivity (SI) was higher in Tr than in Sed (P < 0.001). Basal GH, IGF-I, and IGFBP-1 and -3 were higher in Tr (P < 0.05). During +VT, Tr had a threefold higher GH response, whereas their blood glucose level was better maintained (P < 0.05). Basal IGFBP-1 was correlated with SI (P < 0.01).

These data indicate that endurance training in middle-aged men increased the activity of the GH/IGF-I system and improved glucoregulation both at rest and during high-intensity endurance exercise.

Side note: maybe, just maybe, the overestimation of Testosterone in health, strength and even in behavior/mental abilities comes more from the hidden desire to elevate the male status compared to the females than from scientific knowledge, if it’s clear what I mean.

Interesting hypothesis, Marinera. The extremes of castration and anabolic steroids aside, I’ve seen little evidence that “normal range” variations in testosterone affect things a whole lot for men. ModestoMan posted some good studies on T and prostate cancer that were consistent with this. I’m open-minded to the idea that supplementing T may turn out to have health benefits for older men whose production has dramatically ramped down, but I’m very doubtful of the efficacy of various “natural T boosting” strategies for men whose T is already normal.

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Originally Posted by marinera
Side note: maybe, just maybe, the overestimation of Testosterone in health, strength and even in behavior/mental abilities comes more from the hidden desire to elevate the male status compared to the females than from scientific knowledge, if it’s clear what I mean.

Women have been singing the praises of estrogen for a long time (promotes attractiveness, good mood, resistance to heart disease, etc.). I say it’s high time testosterone got its due. Not only is it great for men, but a little bit is excellent for women.

And, by the way, men need a little bit of estrogen, too!

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Originally Posted by Para-Goomba
I’m open-minded to the idea that supplementing T may turn out to have health benefits for older men whose production has dramatically ramped down, but I’m very doubtful of the efficacy of various “natural T boosting” strategies for men whose T is already normal.

I’m approaching that “gray zone” between having “normal levels” of a young man and seeing my production start to ramp down. I’m not so sure about these “natural” T-boosting strategies either, but they may be worth a try for me since I’m such a marginal case. I’ll let you know how they work :) .

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Hi MM,

I hope for your sake that you never fall into the darker zone!! I just saw my doctor yesterday for my low T from a year ago. He still refuses to believe that it could be this. Everytime I gave him one of my symptoms he would find everything under the sun that could also cause these types of symptoms. I am very healthy and have had little to ever see a doctor about and he was ready to have me see every specialist there is. I finally said take another T test, this time total and free and lets see where I am, and he begrudgingly agreed. I hope you have a doctor that is a little more open minded than mine. I walked out of the office feeling like I “might” be getting somewhere, I guess I will just have to wait and see what the new test shows. Thanks again to you and RickM and others for all of the great info that you have added to this forum!!


I hope you’ll post again when you have the numbers. Free T is a confusing measurement. There are several different ways to measure it, and they give different ranges of results that can’t always be directly compared. It’s important to know not only the number, but also the test method.

The most common test method is “analog free T,” also known as “RIA.” If your reading using this method is below 15 pg/ml, you’re certainly low. The other common method is “calculated free T.” For this method, a reading below 50 pg/ml is considered low.

Sometimes, the readings are given in units of ng/dl. For reference, 1 ng/dl is equal to 10 pg/ml.

If your doc is still reluctant, go buy a copy of “Testosterone for Life,” by Abraham Morgentaler. Read it, and bring it to your next appointment.

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I will definitely be back, more useful info here than at my doctors office!!!( Like your post above)) Blood was just drawn yesterday so I will keep you posted when I know anything.

My thanks to long lost and sorely missed member MX for this article from

Training With A Capital T

There's nothing new about the fact that acute exercise increases T levels. It's been shown that in men, T levels rise both during exercise and up to about 15 minutes after exercise. But not all exercise increases T levels. Certain workloads and intensities produce no increase at all. Exercise at a certain threshold, however, leads to T increases that are proportional to the amount of muscle mass involved in the workout, the amount of total work (sets X reps), and the intensity.

With respect to weight training, a powerlifting-type workout consisting of 3 sets of 5 reps with 3 minutes rest between sets and a bodybuilding-type workout consisting of 3 sets of 10 reps with 1 minute rest between sets were compared. It appears that total T levels were increased for 15 minutes following exercise and that the bodybuilding workout (67% increase) is superior to the powerlifting workout (32% increase) for increasing total T levels.(14)

What about an activity like running? In a study done comparing elite distance runners with sedentary men, it was interesting to note that at rest, the sedentary men had 54% more total and free T floating around in their blood than the runners. It seems to be the case that most volume-training athletes have lower levels of T. The volume threshold seems to be at about 8 hours of exercise per week. In this study, the runners did, however, have larger free T increases in response to the running. Here's a table of the results:

Running Intensity Sedentary Elite Runners
and Duration Runners

80% HR max
for 120 minutes 47% Increase 76% Increase

80% HR max
for 20 minutes 31% Increase 62% Increase

50% HR max
for 120 minutes Nothing Nothing

50% HR max
for 20 minutes Nothing Nothing

From these results, it appears that intense running (80% of max HR) can lead to increases in free T similar to the increases seen with resistance training.(6) If your goal is to increase your Testosterone, though, I wouldn't necessarily recommend very intense continuous running or a very high volume of exercise (greater than 8 hours per week).

Doing so would probably ensure that any increased T as a result of a single exercise session would probably be canceled out by lower resting levels of T. If you still insist on volume training, supplementing with over-the-counter androgens might help normalize T levels during intense periods of training.

Unfortunately and paradoxically, although T levels are increased directly after a training bout, some research has shown that they might then take a nosedive into subnormal levels for 1-3 days after the exercise session.

This means that although your squat day might jack your T levels up for a little while, ultimately those T levels are destined to come back down and end up lower than you started with. They might also stay low for a day or two before coming back to normal.

With that said, my advice would be to stop training altogether. Well, no, but I thought that might get your attention. Actually, inserting rest days between intense exercise bouts might be a better solution to allow T to come back to normal before hammering out another intense workout. Of course, you could always rely on OTC androgens, but since intense exercise might always promote this effect and you don't want to stay on androgens year round, perhaps program manipulation might be the best option.


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How about doing many sub-maximal sets during the day to keep T levels costantly high? Paul Clarke’ training style.

Masturbate furiously with both hands every 15 minutes and your testosterone levels will never be allowed to drop. Set an alarm when sleeping.

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:) And that’s the problem with a lot of these “natural” methods. Lots of activities make T go up and down. But for every peak there seems to be a subsequent dip, and sometimes the effect of activities that cause peaks is to drop the baseline levels even lower than they would otherwise be.

So, rather than looking for activities to rescue myself from a middle aged T slump, I’m thinking more along the lines of a system tweak that increases the quiescent operating point, or “idle” value if you will.

Gprent posted some good suggestions here. I’ve already started doing many of the things recommended in Gprent’s post. My problem is getting enough sleep. For some reason I’ve recently started waking up at 4 or 5 am, and that’s been it for the night. It’s killing my T levels (I think) and putting me in a foul mood.

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Another thing to keep in mind is that a man’s response to T is not simply a function of his total T or free T. It’s also the sensitivity of his T receptors and the efficiency of the cellular processes in which T is involved. In other words, 50 pg/ml of free T for one man might be very low, whereas the same measurement might be entirely adequate for another man.

Taking the idea a step further, one wonders whether certain types of training might make a man’s T response system more efficient. An analogy would be the cardiovascular system. When I first started working out on the elliptical machine, my pulse rate ran up to 180 and I couldn’t do very much. Now it’s hard to get it over 160 and I’m burning way more calories. My system is simply more efficient. Maybe T works the same way. Maybe it’s possible to train up ones T system to be able to get by just fine with lower concentrations. Who knows?

It would be interesting to see whether the runners in the T-muscle article I posted above, who had lower baseline T readings than sedentary men, actually showed symptoms of lower T, or whether they seemed to have a level of health and well being consistent with higher T.

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Definitely possible, MM. Insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion are related in the way you describe, too, I think.

I agree that different levels probably mean different things for different men (just as a given T level means something very different from a man vs. a woman). If the T-replacement therapy turns out to be helpful for older men, I would expect that a “baseline” level of T will be measured on young men so that they will know, later in life, what is an “acceptable” level for their bodies, if they decide to replace T.

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Okay, science be damned; it happened again.

Yesterday, after a decent night’s sleep (finally), I worked my way over the elliptical machine and managed to pound out 32 minutes. It was slightly hard and painful.

I had a cup of coffee, set up the Bowflex for squats, and went at it. I tried lifting a little more weight than last time. I did about 8 or 10 reps for each set, and finished about 5 sets. Then I did some heavy benching. I rounded out the workout with abs, and called it a day.

After the workout, which lasted maybe 90 minutes (beyond the 32 minutes for cardio), I popped a Vitamin C pill and 50 mg of zinc. I know the T is supposed to wear off after 60 minutes, but I have to say I was completely jacked the whole day.

About half way through the day, I actually started feeling horny. I almost never feel horny anymore.

I stayed up until 2 am, had sex (which I rarely do late at night), and went to bed. I was up at 8 am this morning, feeling great, and my energy has been high all day. Anybody want to suggest a reason?

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