This piece is part of our Guide To Gains series where we show you how to increase testosterone naturally. We’ll Show You Proven Ways to Boost Your Libido & Build Muscle Growth the Natural Way
Men of all ages struggle with the challenge of how to increase testosterone. But doing so is easier than you might think.
There are numerous benefits to having higher levels of the so-called “male sex hormone” – including having more sex drive, muscle strength, better mood and more. But that doesn’t mean you need painful injections or surgical procedures to achieve these benefits.
Below, we identify the 10 simple and scientifically proven methods for naturally boosting your body’s testosterone levels. And, we show you how to cut out the bad habits that might be inadvertently causing your testosterone to plummet.
Let’s dig in …
The problem with low testosterone
Before we begin our tips on how to increase testosterone (and ultimately free testosterone), it’s important to consider the reasons why guys might want to bolster their hormone level in the first place.
Testosterone (T) is a naturally occurring hormone in men (also in women, but in smaller levels). It plays a huge role in influencing how we look, how we feel and how our bodies perform.
Here’s the problem …
Studies show that men’s testosterone levels begin to drop dramatically at age 30—by roughly 1% every year.
The symptoms can be very noticeable: feelings of sluggishness, lower libido and loss of strength. Worse yet, these symptoms cause their own vicious cycle with additional feelings of embarrassment and inadequacy.
The Benefits Of Learning How To Increase Testosterone Naturally
Thankfully, there are effective ways to restore your hormone levels and proven benefits for doing so (especially for men who suffer from abnormally low testosterone).
An abundance of medical research shows that increasing low testosterone levels can:
- Increase libido, strengthening your drive and stamina for sex
- Improve mood and enhance your emotional well being
- Enhance mental cognition, making your thoughts feel “clearer” and more focused
- Improve muscle mass, making you physically stronger
- Increase bone density, making them stronger and less vulnerable to injury
- Boost red blood cell production, enhancing your oxygen supply
Put simply: “testosterone is what makes men men” (to quote Harvard physician Abraham Morgentaler, M.D.). So it’s only natural for men to feel a lot better (physically and mentally) when they boost these vital hormone levels.
The question is: how?
What works, what doesn’t and what’s the best way to do it safely and naturally? Let’s take a look …
10 Simple Tips: How To Naturally Increase Testosterone
1) Get serious about weight-lifting
Multiple medical studies have shown that acute resistance training, such as lifting weights, can “significantly” boost testosterone levels in men.
But not all weight-lifting is the same, so it’s important to do it right.
Here are the most important takeaways from the research:
- Use dumbbells and free weights, instead of machines, whenever possible.
- Push yourself to the max: increase weight so that by the 10th rep you’re no longer able to lift them at all.
- Focus on multi-joint powerlifting exercises, like squats and bench presses, which are shown to have the greatest positive impact on testosterone levels.
- Do heavier lifts with fewer reps and sets, instead of lighter weights with more reps/sets.
- Limit your workouts to about an hour. Longer workouts can actually begin to have a negative effect on the hormone.
- Stick with it. Studies show the greatest increases in testosterone among men who practice long-term resistance training.
Remember: “resistance” is the name of the game, along with multi-joint exercises. If you don’t have access to a gym or weights, then you can use your body (i.e. pull-ups, push-ups, etc.) – but it’s best to have weights, so that you can increase and control the resistance.
Machines aren’t as effective because they don’t work as many muscles. Keep doing the big, multi-joint movements, especially squats. Those will have the largest effect on your testosterone levels (and your muscle growth).
2) Do more high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is another form of resistance training that has been shown to have an impact on testosterone levels.
HIIT leverages your body for resistance, as opposed to free weights (though some exercises do incorporate dumbbells for greater effectiveness). HIIT is basically an intense cardio workout that involves short bursts of increasingly difficult movements.
Like weight-lifting, HIIT works to boost testosterone levels because it puts heavy resistance on several different muscles simultaneously, in very short intervals.
Here’s what to keep in mind if you’re figuring out how to increase testosterone with HIIT:
- Jack up the intensity: studies make it clear that higher-intensity workouts have the greatest impact on your “T.”
- Like the weight-lifting tips above, you’ll experience the best results when you incorporate squats, especially when combined with pushups, superman lifts, tuck jumps, kettlebell swings, battle ropes and sprints.
- Keep the intervals short, but intense. The idea is to go “all out” for only 20 to 90 seconds. By the end of that interval, your muscles should feel thoroughly worked. (If not, amp up the intensity.)
- Rest in between intervals to force your body to repeatedly acclimate itself between the two states: high-intensity and recovery. The rest period should usually last about double the length of the activity.
- Keep at it. Create a consistent HIIT routine to ensure you’re working out 2 to 3 days a week, every week. The more you do it, the more your brain sends out the signal that more testosterone is needed to strengthen your muscles and bones.
If you’re also looking to lose weight and get toned, then HIIT is for you. In addition to bolstering your testosterone, high-intensity interval training is one of the most effective ways to burn body fat.
3) Exercise (Yes, more.)
Starting to see a trend here?
Exercise is clearly one of the best ways to get your “T” levels back to where they should be, as proven by decades of clinical trials.
In one prominent 2012 study, researchers compared testosterone levels between sedentary men (i.e. the couch-sitters) vs. those men who were physically active. The results were clear: testosterone levels were significantly higher in the men who were active. Not surprisingly, those men also had higher sperm counts and healthier levels of other hormones.
But again, here’s the key point to remember: not all exercising is made equal when it comes to testosterone enhancement.
General exercise commonly won’t increase your “T” as much as the powerlifting and HIIT routines listed above. But studies show it still beats sitting in front of the TV. Also, there are simple ways to get the most T-boosting benefits out of your everyday physical activities.
Here’s a few tips:
- Do sprints in short bursts, rather than long jogs. Try 200-meter sprints (half the track), followed by 200 meters of walking. Then sprint another 200 meters (repeat this 4-5 times).
- Try road cycling or mountain biking, rather than riding on level, paved trails. Both road cycling and mountain biking function like a HIIT workout when the terrain is hilly, offering varying difficulty.
- Amp up your walks. If running’s not your thing, you can still improve your results by upping the speed of your daily walks. If you can add a short sprint or two (or three or four), even better. But if not, try powerwalking (especially on the inclines).
- Got a pool? Think beyond the usual leisurely laps. Turn an ordinary swim routine into HIIT workout by sprinting 1 or 2 lengths, followed by a leisurely recovery for 1 length, and repeat. The goal is to increase your oxygen intake and muscle resistance, just like the HIIT workouts you do on land.
The research shows that most strenuous exercise can help to bolster low testosterone levels. But if you want to maximize your results, your workouts need to be creating serious resistance on a wide variety of muscles, especially in your lower body.
4) Have some coffee before you exercise
This is one of the simplest tips on the list. Research suggests that a little bit of caffeine before your workout can have a statistically significant effect on your testosterone.
How much caffeine?
As little as 4 milligrams – the rough equivalent of a shot of regular black coffee (not espresso).
A 2012 double-blind study investigated the effects of caffeine on 16 professional rugby players. Half the group took 4 mg of caffeine an hour before they exercised. The other half got a placebo. The subjects were tested for testosterone levels immediately before and after exercise.
Those that took the caffeine had higher testosterone levels after the workout than those that took the placebo.
Tip: No need to overdo it. While there’s plenty of evidence showing the health benefits of 2-3 cups of coffee a day, there isn’t yet enough data to show that drinking more cups will have a greater effect on your “T.”
5) Get a great night’s sleep
The same study that uncovered the benefits of caffeine also found that sleep can help your “T” too.
Restful, high-quality sleep has been shown to have a positive impact on your testosterone levels. Conversely, those with poor sleep (roughly only 4 hours a night) had significantly lower levels of the male hormone.
If you’re working out regularly, then you’re already on the right path to a great night of zzzz’s. But here are a few more tips to improve the quality of your sleep:
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon, which will push back your bedtime and disrupt the quality of your sleep
- Keep devices away from your bed. The light of a smartphone screen alone before bedtime can hurt the quality of your sleep. And if you’re checking your phone in the middle of the night, there’s a very good chance you’re having trouble falling back to sleep.
- Stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and set your alarm clock for the same time every night. Your body will begin to naturally recognize when it’s time for sleep, so you’ll fall asleep faster and wake up feeling less tired.
- Aim for 8 hours of sleep. Research shows that 7 to 8 hours is the sweet spot for a healthy night’s rest in adults.
- Avoid afternoon naps. If you’re getting 8 hours of sleep per night, then you shouldn’t need to nap during the day. A powernap (20 minutes max) can help to restore your daytime energy. But if it’s pushing your bedtime later, then it’s probably best to skip it.
Why does sleep increase your testosterone?
For one thing, it’s because your body produces most of the hormone while you’re asleep. If you’re not getting a full night’s rest, then your body isn’t getting enough time to maximize its testosterone potential.
Fun fact: guys get “morning wood” (or “nocturnal penile tumescence,” as the doctors call it) in part because of the rising levels of testosterone, which are highest in the morning after a full night’s sleep.
If you need more ideas for getting a good night’s sleep, head on over to Mayo Clinic for tips.
6) Eat protein, but don’t overdo it
Curious how to increase testosterone levels naturally by changing your diet? You can structure your diet around foods that boost testosterone but for starters, eat more protein.
Below, we list several other foods that are scientifically proven to boost your “T.” But protein deserves its own section, partly because there’s a lot of misinformation out there.
If you’re trying to build muscle mass, then you’ve probably already heard that protein can help. And by now, you also know that maximum muscle growth wouldn’t be possible without properly understanding how to increase testosterone levels in your body.
So, eating a ton of protein is how to increase your testosterone, right?
Research has indeed shown a correlation between protein intake and testosterone levels. And, one study found that men who practice a strict vegetarian diet had much lower testosterone levels (by as much as 14 percent) than meat-eaters.
But there’s a catch: too much protein could actually lower your “T,” instead of increasing it.
So, how much protein is ideal and what kinds? Here are some tips:
- The recommended daily allowance for protein is 8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (try this protein calculator), according to Harvard Men’s Health Watch.
- Animal sources tend to be the best sources of protein because they have the right balance of essential amino acids.
- Say “no” to processed meats, like sliced deli meats – those tend to be loaded with salt and other unhealthy additives.
- Cut down on red meat. But if you insist on it, go for venison instead of steak. Venison is healthier and was recently ranked by Men’s Health among the top 10 testosterone-boosting foods.
- Harvard Men’s Health Watch recommends the following examples as good sources of protein: 3 ounces tuna, salmon, haddock, or trout; 3 ounces cooked turkey or chicken; 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt; ½ cup cottage cheese; ½ cup cooked beans; 1 cup of milk; 1 cup cooked pasta; ¼ cup or 1 ounce of mixed nuts; 1 egg.
7) Balance your diet with healthy fats and carbs
No single food or ingredient is going to skyrocket your testosterone. But a balanced diet of healthy food sources certainly can. We also know that an unhealthy diet is nearly guaranteed to sink your “T” levels.
Minerals like zinc and magnesium are vital for testosterone production and have numerous other benefits on your health. So you need to be sure you’re getting these sources from the right foods.
Similarly, some foods are very good at lowering the estrogens in your body that are preventing your growth of testosterone.
So, what exactly should you be eating?
Wondering how to naturally increase testosterone levels with food? Here are some of the best foods for increasing testosterone, based on the current research:
- Carbs: Carbohydrate intake has been shown to optimize T levels, especially in men who are physically active. There’s plenty of debate about which sources of carbs are best, but experts typically point to the following recommendations: potatoes (and other root vegetables), milk, white rice, fruit and whole grain pasta.
- Healthy fats: Ample medical research shows that high-saturated fats can have a significant positive impact on testosterone. One source you’ll definitely want to consider, in moderate amounts, is eggs. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that the fat in egg yolks is especially beneficial for your testosterone levels. Butter and coconut oil are additional examples of fatty foods that can positively impact your “T.”
- Garlic: Technically, garlic doesn’t directly increase your testosterone, per se. However, when you bite into fresh garlic, it forms allicin. Allicin lowers the stress hormone known as cortisol, which competes with testosterone for the same sites in your muscle cells. So by lowering your cortisol levels, you are maximizing the effectiveness of testosterone on your muscle growth.
- Tuna: Tuna is naturally loaded with one of the best vitamins for healthy testosterone production: vitamin D. A study of nearly 2,300 men showed that those with optimal levels of vitamin D in their bodies had up to 90 percent higher testosterone levels than those who were D-deficient.
- Pomegranate: A 2012 study found that men and women (ages 21 to 64) who drank a glass of pomegranate juice a day increased their testosterone between 16 to 30 percent. The exact correlation between “T” and pomegranate is still being studied, but we know that pomegranate is a rich source of antioxidants, fiber, iron and vitamins A, C, and E – all ideal for optimal hormone levels.
- Oysters: You may have heard that oysters can increase your libido, but how? A 2005 study found that oysters are rich with rare amino acids that help to boost your testosterone. There’s plenty of debate over whether oysters are true aphrodisiacs—there’s not much data to show they increase your libido right after you eat them. But research does show they can help boost your “T,” which is always good for your sex drive.
When in doubt, stick to natural, unprocessed foods. Load up on vegetables and fruit, which are loaded with the vitamins and minerals that have fueled man’s evolution for hundreds of thousands of years.
The data shows without a doubt that a healthy diet has a pronounced effect on testosterone, so stay away from the junk.
8) Have more sex.
No arguments here, right? This might be the most popular advice on how to increase testosterone in men.
Remember, testosterone is called the “male sex hormone” for a reason. The more of it you have, the stronger your drive for sex (that goes for women, too).
So it’s no surprise that this process is also reciprocal: the more sex you have, the more your brain sends the signal for more testosterone.
A 2003 study monitored the testosterone levels of men in the days following sex. Interestingly, days 1-6 after sex saw minimal fluctuations of “T.” But on day 7, the levels skyrocketed. (Men who had no sex at all saw no change in their testosterone).
This tells us two things:
- Yes, actually having sex increases your sex hormones.
- The “rest” period following sex is just as important for boosting your “T.”
Think of sex kind of like the workouts we mentioned above. The rest period is vital. Your brain isn’t going to start pumping out more hormones immediately—it needs that downtime (with a full night’s restful sleep, remember?) for your body to restore your optimal hormone levels.
And here’s more good news …
The ejaculation is what counts, not intercourse. The study highlighted above actually focused on ejaculation. So nope, you don’t need a partner to increase your testosterone with “sex.”
9) Supplement with natural testosterone boosters
Want to know how to increase testosterone testosterone levels naturally with supplements?
Your body needs specific nutrients to bolster testosterone production. Without those nutrients, it can’t do it. Your “T” levels will naturally drop.
Above, we highlighted a few great food sources proven to increase the hormone. But eating those foods consistently isn’t feasible for everyone. And even if you do eat them, how do you know you’re getting the right amounts of the right nutrients?
Putting focus into eating the right food, getting plenty of exercise and living a health lifestyle can all be great natural testosterone boosters. The natural testosterone boosters we’re talking about here are the kind that are typically purchased online or at your local health food store. They consist of vitamins, herbs, minerals and nutrients that your body may be lacking.
If backed by thorough medical research, like Andro Fuel, testosterone boosters are a great way to make sure your body and brain are getting an optimal balance of the ingredients that increase your testosterone naturally.
Testosterone boosters can vary widely in terms of how they’re made, so be sure to look at the ingredient lists closely.
Here are some of the key ingredients to look for, based on what current medical research tells us:
- Zinc: Zinc is essential for “T.” Studies have shown that men who are deficient in zinc also have lower testosterone levels.
- Vitamin D groups: As we highlighted above, men with more vitamin D have shown up to 90 percent higher “T” levels.
- Boron: Boron supplements can cause a significant increase in the sex hormones, according to a 2015 study.
- Vitamin B groups: Medical research shows that a lack of vitamin B is strongly correlated with deficiencies in testosterone.
- Magnesium: A 2011 study found magnesium supplements increased testosterone levels in men, including both active and sedentary men.
If you’ve done your homework, then you know this is only a short list of natural testosterone boosting ingredients.
There are numerous other natural enhancers that have shown promise in medical studies, including grape seed extract, panax ginseng, spilanthes acmella, anacyclus pyrethrum, curcumin, selenium, bromelain and wild nettle root.
Here’s what you need to remember: much of this research is ongoing. Every year, we’re learning more about the sources that have the greatest impact on “T,” and not all ingredients are supported by the same amount of data.
10) Avoid these T-killers
When you’re boosting testosterone, it’s just as important to avoid the things that are bringing your levels down.
If you’re eating the wrong things or practicing the wrong lifestyle, you could be negating all the efforts above.
Here are a few things that we know for sure cause testosterone to drop:
- Stress: When you’re stressed, your body pumps out more of the stress hormone cortisol. That’s how your body manages stress. It’s a good thing. But the downside is that cortisol can hurt your testosterone levels (see garlic tips above). So if you want to truly maximize your “T,” then you need to work on eliminating the stresses in your life.
- Excess alcohol: Interestingly, there are a few studies that show low doses of alcohol can increase your testosterone. However, larger doses have the opposite effect, not to mention come with a wide range of other potential health problems. Your best bet is to limit alcohol, but having a drink now and then probably won’t hurt (and may even give your “T” a temporary boost).
- BPA (chemicalbisphenol A): BPA is a synthetic compound found in lots of household plastics. A 2013 study showed that increased exposure to BPA could be linked to low testosterone levels in men. But don’t freak out just yet – the jury is still out on the exact relationship between BPA and testosterone. However, in general, it’s probably a good idea to look for “BPA-free” on product labels.
- Sitting on the couch: A sedentary lifestyle is one of the worst things you can do for your testosterone, as we underscored above. Yes, downtime is vital too. But if you want to maximize your “T,” you need to get off the couch and get active!
Final Words On Learning How To Increase Testosterone Naturally
If you’re trying all the steps above and want to be certain about the results, there are test kits you can buy that allow you to test your testosterone levels at home. But in our experience, these kits are an unnecessary expense.
Also, it’s important to set the right expectations. No single method is going to skyrocket your testosterone overnight. But with the right lifestyle and a long-term commitment to the routine above on how to increase testosterone naturally, you’ll see the benefits sooner rather than later.
Finally, if you’re experiencing symptoms like erectile dysfunction, that may in fact have nothing to do with your testosterone and could be signs of something more serious. Be sure to speak to your doctor if you have concerns.