The way I see it, there are three major points that need addressing in order to raise long-term natural testosterone. They are as follows.
- General Bodily Health
- Antioxidant Protection of T-Production
- Stimulation of T-Production
The first one, ‘General Bodily Health’, is somewhat obvious. We can’t set the stage for higher testosterone without reasonably good health. This means having body fat low enough that there’s at least no waisline ‘overhang.’ It means eating a fairly balanced diet, keeping stress levels under control, and getting adequate sleep at least most nights. It means having healthy lipid levels, lipid ratios, and blood pressure.
The second one, ‘Antioxidant Protection of T-Production’, are our tactics for countering the oxidative attack that ‘ages’ the body’s testosterone ‘factory.’ Much like other organs, the testes are under constant oxidative assault. Because they produce testosterone out of lipids, it is lipid peroxidation that ironically becomes the incursive byproduct impeding future testosterone production. In other words, the production of testosterone creates fall-out that slows the production of testosterone.
Our only defense against this is a good selection of dietary and supplementary antioxidants. Adequate vitamin E appears to be an important one since it’s fat soluble. Others that could be effective are ginger root, selenium, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), taurine, vitamin C, and quercetin. Any antioxidant that significantly lowers malondialdehyde and raises glutathione could directly help T-production.
This leads us to our third point, ‘Stimulation of T-Production.’ There’s really no reason for the body to produce more testosterone unless there’s a demand. Evidence reveals we might need to become a bit less ‘comfy’ and a little more rugged to stimulate more testosterone production.
Stimulate Testosterone Production: a ‘Double-Whammy’ Experiment
It’s no secret that intense resistance exercise stimulates the body to produce and release more testosterone. This has been shown with studies in which non-training men take up intense weight training. The triggering mechanism appears to be a reaction of the leydig cells to lactic acid.
Another, more questionable, stimulator of T-production is cold exposure. This tactic was made briefly popular a few years ago with a book called ‘The 4-Hour Body’, by Tim Ferriss. In the book, Ferriss cited his successful daily use of ice baths and cold showers as the stimulating method in a several-month-long T-boosting protocol.
Was Ferriss right about cold exposure?
What if cold exposure were combined with lactic acid exposure?
That seems to have been the effect of an experiment with some British soccer players. Their saliva revealed higher testosterone levels after sprinting COMBINED with cold exposure versus sprinting alone.
Hmmm… is there room for a treadmill right next to that cryotherapy chamber?
Triggering Testosterone with a bit of ‘Burn’ and a ‘Fast Freeze’
The study consisted of 14 ‘English Premier League academy soccer players.’ Researchers had the athletes perform fifteen 30 meter sprints with 60 seconds of rest between each sprint. To make the sprints even more demanding, each one ended with a 10 meter forced deceleration. This quick slow-down places more demand on muscles and builds up greater lactic acid.
The researchers had the subjects do this protocol twice. On one occasion, the athletes rested from the exercise on chairs in ambient conditions. On another occasion, the researchers put the athletes in cryotherapy chambers within 20 minutes of finishing the sprints. First they were put in a chamber for 30 seconds of -60 degrees Celcius. They were then put into a chamber for 2 minutes of exposure to -135 degrees Celcius.
After each of the two protocols, the researchers took saliva samples for hormone testing. They took one sample 2 hours after the sessions and another sample 24 hours after the sessions.
The cryotherapy sessions raised the player’s testosterone levels by an average of 21% at the 2-hour mark after training. Perhaps more impressively, they raised it by 28% at the post-training 24-hour mark.
Cortisol levels were also measured in both absolute terms and relative to testosterone. No statistical difference was observed between the sessions for these measurements.
Stimulate Testosterone Production: HIIT and an Ice Bath?
Like so many studies, this one might raise more questions than it answers. For example, it would be nice to have had one sample of athletes who were only subjected to the cryotherapy sessions. This way we could determine whether it was cold exposure that caused a rise in testosterone, or cold exposure preceded by intense exercise.
If it’s indeed the latter, some high intensity interval training (HIIT) on an elliptical followed by a ten minute ice bath might outdo the Tim Ferriss protocol for intermittent ‘T-triggering.’
Regardless, maybe studies like this reveal the necessity for a return to rugged conditions and hunting-like exertion to stimulate testosterone production.
Russell, M.; Birch, J.; Love, T.; Cook, C. J.; Bracken, R. M.; Taylor, T.; Swift, E.; Cockburn, E.; Finn, C.; Cunningham, D.; Wilson, L.; Kilduff, L. P. The effects of a single whole body cryotherapy exposure on physiological, performance and perceptual responses of professional academy soccer players following repeated sprint exercise. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (May 2016)
Lin H1, Wang SW, Wang RY, Wang PS. Stimulatory effect of lactate on testosterone production by rat Leydig cells. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry Vol 83, Issue 1 (Pages 147–154) Oct. 2001