Training to increase Testosterone
A friend of mine came to me asking my opinion of how he should be structuring his gym sessions in order to increase his strength, mass and then to tone down. I recommend he split this up into two phases, the first one to increase strength through increasing testosterone, and the second to increase size and tone down. Here is the first of these, phase 2 will follow shortly.
Increasing testosterone will help push your body further and allow you to lift heavier weights thus making you stronger.
Sessions lasting no longer than 1 hour, just weights no cardio. Aim to do 4-6 exercises on a given body part and push it as far as you can go. Each exercise is to consist of 3-4 sets, which should consist of 4-6 repetitions. Rest between sets to be no more than 1minute 30secs allowing your body to recover between sets and then go full on for the next set. Rest between exercises to be around 2 minutes. GET yourself a watch to keep an eye on this rest time (its important!)
You can group sessions like the following:
Chest & Triceps
Note that your triceps will be hit as a secondary muscle by doing the chest presses below. Exercises you need to be doing for Chest:
- Flat Barbell/Dumbbell Press
- Incline Barbell/Dumbbell Press
- Decline Barbell/Dumbbell Press
- Cable Flys
- External Rotations (do 8-10 of a lighter weight - build weight up slowly as these are delicate muscles)
- Internal Rotations (do 8-10 of a lighter weight - build weight up slowly as these are delicate muscles)
Exercises you need to be doing for Triceps:
- Skull Crushers
- Triceps Push-downs
- Bodyweight Dips (slightly different rep-range here, try do 3 sets of as many as you can and really push yourself
I would aim to do all chest exercises listed above, plus either (1) or (2) from triceps plus (3).
Back & Biceps
Note that your biceps will be hit as a secondary muslce by doing most back exercises.
Exercises for back:
- Wide Grip Pull-ups (slightly different rep-range here, try do 3 sets of as many as you can and really push yourself)
- Deadlifts (if you don't know how, ask a trainer to show you, if they cant then don't do them, as these can get dangerous if your form is wrong)
- Bent over barbell row
- Seated narrow grip row
Exercises for biceps:
- Standing Barbell curl
- Standing Hammer curls
Exercises for legs:
- Romanian Deadlifts OR Good-Mornings
- Standing Calf Raises
- Seated Calf Raises
Shoulders & Core
Exercises for Shoulders:
- Dumbbell/Barbell Press
- Front Raises (dumbbells or cable)
- Side Raises (dumbbells or cable)
- Face Pulls
Exercises for Core:
- Reverse plank, Left side plank, Right side plank, front plank (start with 30sec holds for each of these making up a 2 minute set cycle do 2 to 3 sets, increasing hold time each session)
- Torso Twists
- Cable Wood-Chop
Try to train one day on, followed by one or two days off. Using the above groupings order them by: Chest & Tri, Legs, Back & Biceps, Shoulders & Core and cycle through these, so for example if you only do the first 3 one week then the next time you go do Shoulders & Core, this way you're periodically training each muscle group every 9 days or so. If you can get more sessions in a week i.e. one on one off every 2 days then thats fine, your cycle period would then be 8 days. Never train muscles that are sore - this will lead to overtraining and have a negative effect.
Recovery & Nutrition?
Recovery is the most important aspect of this training plan. As the idea is to lift heavy weights, this puts more stress on your body then conventional weight training therefore recovery plays a massive part in getting you ready for your next session. So eat eat eat is the order of the day. On average a man should eat 2500 calories a day, start by adding 500 to this and spread them out over the course of the day aiming to eat every 3 hours or so. If you're not seeing any results then for the next week add another 500 on to your total, and so on until you are seeing your desired result (e.g. weight gain). Obviously eating "clean" (i.e. healthy) food is better for you than junk food. As a guide try to get 1.5g per lb of bodyweight of protein, 20g of fish oil, 20 grams of other oil (nuts etc) and then make up the rest with carbs - ideally through the day your meals should be made up of more complex then simple carbs.
After training you have a 20 minute window in which you need to give your body protein/carbs/water it needs to start recovering. So I'd go for a shake of 20-40g protein mixed with water, and a banana (banana gives you simple carbs (sugary carbs) which will get released into your system quickly, this combined with the protein is the best blend of recovery drink to have). Plus drink LOTS of water throughout the day and throughout the exercise sessions to keep you hydrated and keep flushing your digestive system. Get a good nights sleep - 8hours is adequate. Your muscles will repair and grow quicker whilst at rest and being fed.
Another main point to think about is how fast are you going to lift the weight? Basically there are two parts to almost every lift, concentric and eccentric. E.g. For a bicep curl the lifting of the weight and the lowering of the weight (which makes up one repetition). On this phase look to lift weights with good form (note on this below) and through the concentric (lifting/pushing/pulling) phase as quickly as possible but in a controlled manner, then in the eccentric (lowering) phase control the weight down - don't just drop it!
Ok so that's almost it, however one more important thing to think about is form, make sure you perform each exercise with good form, e.g. if your doing standing barbell curls then use your arms and don't be tempted to lean or jerk your back backwards. If you are unsure on how to perform an exercise then stop and get advice from a trainer. If you have to compromise form on ANY exercise then the weight you're attempting to lift is too heavy, STOP and go down a weight. Good form and a lower weight always wins over poor form and bigger weights - I cannot stress this enough!
So there you go, my guidelines for training to increase testosterone in order to improve your strength. Look out for phase 2 where I will be discussing how you can train to increase mass and improve tone at the same time!