The two things you absolutely need to build muscle, and they are pretty simple (almost too simple!):
- Weights (heavy compound exercises)
- Food (plenty of quality protein with healthy sources of carbs and fats)
But do you need testosterone to build muscle?
It may seem the answer is obvious, and to some extent it yes. However, merely increasing testosterone isn’t quite the answer, so keep reading.
In this post, you’re going to learn…
- Why you need testosterone to build muscle
- How much testosterone you need to make gains
- Can you build muscle with low testosterone?
- Exercises boost testosterone the most
- Foods that boost testosterone
- Should you take something to boost testosterone?
Why You Need Testosterone To Build Muscle
It’s important to understand why you need testosterone to build muscle.
I’m not going to bore you with the redundant information you already know. Rather, allow me to give you a new perspective…
Do you remember Popeye? Do you remember what he ate all the time?
When he ate spinach, his arms got jacked (well, his forearms…not sure why they didn’t make his biceps big).
But what happened when he didn’t have spinach? His strength was zapped! He was tapped out before he even started!
- Popeye = YOU (and me)
- Spinach = Testosterone
In simple terms, yes, you need testosterone to build muscle. You will simply not make gains without it. There’s an interesting article at verywellfit.com that goes deeper into the effects testosterone has on muscle growth and bodybuilding.
How Much Testosterone You Need To Make Gains
So, we know testosterone is crucial for building muscle, but how much testosterone do you need to make gains?
This is where things (and hormones) get more interesting, and I think this may surprise you.
In theory, the more testosterone you have, the more muscle you can build. But that’s not 100% accurate.
There’s actually a complicated relationship between testosterone and building muscle that tonic.vice.com talks about. It’s not about the amount of testosterone you have, but how well your body responds to this hormone. And this response is triggered by what’s called androgen receptors.
Here’s how it testosterone works for building muscles…
More androgen receptors + Testosterone = Increased protein synthesis
…and the increase in protein synthesis is what allows you to build more muscle and get stronger.
You see, it’s not just about having high levels of testosterone. And your androgen receptors will only take or use so much testosterone. So more testosterone isn’t necessarily the answer.
What is the answer then???
If your goal is to boost testosterone naturally so that you can gain muscle, then you must ensure that you’re doing everything possible to create an anabolic environment. And I’m going to give you some ways to do that below.
Can You Build Muscle With Low Testosterone?
Before we dive into some test boosting solutions for you, you may wonder is it possible to build muscle with low testosterone levels.
The short answer is not likely. The only way this may happen is if you just started working out for the first time (or if you’re coming back to the gym after a long break).
Your body’s initial response to lifting weights will more than likely pack on a little muscle. But your gains will be short-lived if you don’t do something to increase your natural levels of testosterone…which I’m about to help you with!
Exercises That Boost Testosterone
In the beginning, you read the two things you must have to build muscle. These can actually help you boost testosterone levels too, and I’m going to go into each one in-depth.
Lifting heavy weights gives your testosterone a temporary boost. So it’s crucial that you’re consistent with your workouts (I assume you are).
Here are 5 exercises you can do to increase testosterone and get the most muscle-building benefits:
- Bench Press
- Barbell (Bent-Over) Rows
- Overhead Press
**For more exercises and a full workout plan to boost testosterone, you can check out my post 10 Exercises To Increase Testosterone.
I also go into detail on how to perform each exercise more effectively.
Lifting Weights To Boost Muscle And Testosterone
In addition, here’s what an article on webmed.com says about exercise and testosterone:
- Strength training workouts have a greater impact on testosterone when performed in the evening
- The better shape you’re in, the better the boost in testosterone you’ll get when exercising
- It’s important to change your workout routine periodically (once your body gets used to the same workout you may not get as good of hormone response)
- Keep a healthy weight (obesity kills testosterone levels)
Foods That Boost Testosterone
The second way to boost your testosterone levels naturally is with something we all love…FOOD!
Now, this doesn’t mean go eat pizza, ice cream, and drink beer every night. You want to feed your body the exact nutrients needed to build muscle.
Speaking of nutrients, in an article on bodybuilding.com, Matt Kadey (MS, RD) recommends foods dense in vitamins for boosting testosterone.
Test Boosting Foods
Here are some powerful (and yummy) foods I recommend for both building more muscle and increase testosterone naturally:
- Grass-fed beef
- Cage-free eggs (whole eggs…yolks are the best part!)
- Sweet potatoes (preferably without the brown sugar and marshmallows!)
- Green veggies
- Dark berries (put these in your protein shakes!)
The high protein in beef helps builds muscle and the fats actually help boost your testosterone levels. Make sure it’s organic, and grass-fed beef (you don’t want the other hormones and crap that some manufacturers put in their beef).
Cage-free whole eggs are the perfect food for building muscle and boosting testosterone! But do not just eat the egg whites!! Still to this day, I don’t understand that…the yolks have healthy fats and nutrients!
Eat your fruits and vegetables for muscle-building benefits! Now, you may be wondering how fruits and veggies support increased testosterone. It’s due to the high profile of vitamins and antioxidants.
**If you can get more foods, how they boost testosterone and a sample meal plan in my post 7 Foods That Increase Testosterone.
Should You Take Something To Boost Testosterone?
Another way of boosting testosterone to build muscle is to take something that will increase your testosterone levels. There are three common routes you can go to for this…
- Take actual testosterone (doctor prescribed – expensive!)
- Steroids and prohormones (not the safest route by far)
- Take a natural testosterone booster
To be transparent, the most effective method for muscle gains it taking doctor prescribed testosterone. The problem is not all doctors are comfortable with this approach (and refuse to prescribe it), and it can be super expensive.
I won’t even go into #2 because that’s just not smart. Why? With non-pharmaceutical grade compounds, you really have no clue what you’re putting in your body, and there are multitudes of potential side effects.
Taking a natural testosterone booster is the safest route. But you must understand it’s also the slowest.
If you decide to take a natural test booster, patience is a must…you’re not going to see any real results until 3-4 weeks into it.
You can check out my recommended natural testosterone booster here.
Healthy Testosterone Levels To Build Muscle
Remember, you don’t have to jack your testosterone levels through the roof to build muscle. But you do need to make sure your body is naturally producing adequate amounts of testosterone.
**If you’re not certain if you need more testosterone, read my post on How To Tell If You Have Low Testosterone.
If you stick lifting weights and exercising on a consistent schedule, and your diet is filled with testosterone boosting foods, your testosterone levels should be somewhat normal.
If you do want that extra edge to build a little more muscle, a little faster, then definitely read about my top testosterone booster here.