(Breather) Testosterone is the ultimate male hormone for peak performance (both physical and cognitive) as well as anti-aging. You might consider it a benchmark for how well you meeting your assorted diet, exercise, sleep and stress management objectives. In part one of this four-part series, I’ll cover the things you can easily do to help your body boost testosterone naturally and see quick results.
That’s right, you can go from low to bro’ in a short time when you make some positive lifestyle changes. Check out this article, How I Doubled My Testosterone Naturally for more information on how I went from being in the clinically low percentile all the way up to the 95th percentile for my age group – simply through employing ten tips that I’ll be covering in three consecutive Breather shows. Here are the first three from the list:
HOW TO BOOST TESTOSTERONE NATURALLY
The first thing you have to do is ensure you have a routine of regularly getting enough sleep. Lack of good sleep is probably the number one reason for compromised testosterone levels. Full sleep enables the body to repair and recover. The highest release of hormones into our bloodstream, including Testosterone, occurs while we sleep. (Read more here for 12 Tips to Good Sleep).
Dr. Jack Kruse’s brilliant circadian clock article is a great resource for everyone and anyone. Did you know that the best time for sex is 9-10am? And when it comes to workouts, 2:30pm is ideal, since you experience a hormone boost from 12-3pm, as HGH and other adaptive hormones flood the bloodstream (hormone rejuvenation). Dr. Jack also emphasizes the importance of sleep, especially during that 12-3am period:
“These are the anabolic times for sleep when we are rebuilding our proteins and recycling our cellular contents. They are three of the most important hours in all human biology. If you miss them, you can bet you have several neolithic diseases for sure. Why do you ask? If these three hours are not reached enough during our sleep cycle, autophagy is never optimized and cellular repair does not occur in our cells. This means we are using old broken down parts in our cells as the next day arrives at 6 AM and cortisol rises again to wake us up.”
Chronic exercise is one way to surely cause burnout and mess with your body and your testosterone levels. Still, exercise is vital, so it’s all about maintaining a healthy balance and knowing when you’ve pushed it too far. Try incorporating the following tips into your workout routine:
- Sprinting is extremely beneficial as it up-regulates androgen receptors, which bind to testosterone, testosterone itself, and growth hormone.
- But keep in mind that longer does not equal better here – podcast guest Craig Marker’s view on HIRT vs HIIT is that sprinting over 20 seconds causes oxidative damage and cellular damage, with long recovery for minimal extra return. So, there’s really no reason to, except to prepare for extreme competition, since a true sprint is just 20 seconds (or less!). Ben Greefield suggests a 6 second sprint if you really want to increase your testosterone, as a 6 second sprint will burn pure ATP in the muscle cell. Once you get to 8-30 seconds, you start burning lactate, then glucose at the 30 second-2 minute point. Beyond that, you’re burning a combination of glucose and fat.
- Long recovery time is crucial – you can even take as much as a 10-1 recovery rate, meaning a one minute rest between sprints. Since I started doing this, my sessions are so much better and I enjoy easier recovery, with longer rest and fewer reps.
You can also try a Carol bike, rowing, or anything else short and explosive.
#3 CUT DOWN ON SCREEN TIME
I’ve talked about the importance of cutting down screen exposure many times (see Tania Teschke’s Advice For Protecting Your Health in Today’s Polluted World). Get vigilant about EMF exposure, get your blue-light blocking glasses on, and watch out for your hand-held devices – do not charge them in your bedroom! – this is key. Especially at night – because this ties into my #1 tip, which is getting enough (and quality) SLEEP. Nothing will disrupt your sleep like even the smallest amount of light exposure, which suppresses your melatonin production and keeps you up all night, thus ruining your sleep, which in turn, affects your hormone balance.
For additional references, check out Dr. Jack Kruse, my show with Ben Greenfield (which has tons of great content about boosting testosterone), as well as Ralph Teller’s book, Natural Health – Peak Performance – Longevity Lifestyle, and stay tuned for parts two, three, and four!
There are two important testosterone blood tests: serum testosterone which is the total, and also free testosterone which is the amount circulating in your bloodstream. [03:47]
Chronic exercise is one of the ways you can trash your endocrine function. [05:30]
If the female has an optimal level of testosterone, it also optimizes estrogen and other performance and health hormones, this can be a big win. [07:47]
Presenting tips from various sources, Brad reminds us how important sleep is. [10:17]
Wearing your blue light blocking eyewear while watching TV towards the bedtime hour is going to give you a good start in preparing for a good sleep. [11:53]
The circadian rhythm plays an important part in our overall functioning. [15:07]
The best time to have sex is around 9:00 to 10:00 AM. [17:09]
If you exercise right, you get a fantastic boost of adaptive hormones. Sprinting is very valuable. [18:35]
We are going for a testosterone boost here so learn to have a very long recovery time. [23:48]
- Brad’s Podcast with Ben Greenfield
- Ben Greenfield
- Dr. Jack Kruse: Circadian Clock
- Lights Out, Sleep, Sugar and Survival
- Ralph Teller
LISTEN:Download Episode MP3
Get Over Yourself Podcast
Welcome to the get over yourself podcast. This is author, an athlete, Brad Kearns, discovering ways to be healthy, fit, and happy in hectic, high-stress, modern life. So let’s slow down and take a deep breath. Take a cold plunge, and expertly balanced that competitive intensity with an appreciation of the journey. That’s the theme of the show. Here we go.
Let’s get in to it. Testosterone tips. This is going to become an increasingly frequent discussion topic. What could be more important to the human male to age gracefully and avoid disease and decline than preserving the ultimate male essence as represented by a healthy testosterone level. And we’re familiar with the blood tests for serum testosterone, that’s the total testosterone and also free testosterone, which is the amount circulating in your bloodstream. Both of those tests are important. Uh, my podcast with Dr Tommy Wood, he speculated that serum T was perhaps the most relevant one to track. That’s the most common one that we track in a typical blood test. And a lot of people have said that free T is the most important one because it represents what’s actually working and hitting the target organs in your body. So we’re gonna go with, uh, testing both regularly to notice the effect of lifestyle behaviors on your testosterone level, especially if you start taking a new supplement or doing a new workout regimen, improving your sleep habits. It’s nice to have that data. Uh, I don’t go in there and test my blood too frequently overall because my disease risk factors have been stabilized for many, many years and I’m not doing terrible things to my body. All of a sudden that would change that. But I do enjoy testing my testosterone frequently because I believe that it’s a representative benchmark for how well I’m living my life and my state of recovery or peak performance readiness.
In other words, if I’m overdoing it, it will be represented by a nosedive and T and if things are going well, uh, dietary changes, things like that, I can see, uh, what the effects are. I’ve also noticed a pretty significant range in test results. So that’s pretty interesting to track and to see. Uh, Oh my gosh, how much different you can do when you come back. Three months later, six months later, I have an article on the blog titled how I doubled my testosterone naturally in a span of I think five months. And in that example, I went from clinically low with my test result, especially for free T below the normal range, all the way up to the 95th to 99th percentile for males in the 50 plus age group. Just by backing off on a binge of chronic exercise, which was, uh, playing a whole bunch of speed golf and running at a heart rate above my aerobic maximum, uh, during these, uh, many, many workouts out there where I’m running three to five to six miles and the accumulative effect over months to cause T to nosedive.
So, Oh my gosh, that chronic exercise is one of the very top ways that you can trash your endocrine function and invite a breakdown. Burnout, illness, injury, increased disease risk. So we’re going to cover numerous ways and different distinct categories of lifestyle behaviors where you can naturally boost your testosterone production and be the best you can be. Females, if you want to listen to the show to help you man out and get some tips. Very nice. Uh, but also these attributes of healthy living can also apply to optimizing female hormone function. Uh, realizing that, uh, testosterone is important in the female as well. Uh, we just have a 20 to one ratio. The man has a 20 times higher or should have a 20 times higher testosterone level than the female. Uh, but going back to the Olympics and the dominant East German performers starting in the 80s, uh, this is what happens to females when you give them an excess amount of testosterone.
They go and break world records. Some of these world records that still hold today decades later and probably will never be broken due to improved, uh, testing for, uh, doping. So, uh, if the female has an optimal level of testosterone and also optimizes estrogen and the other, uh, performance and health hormones, this can be a big win. But I’m going to just focus the discussion on optimizing testosterone. Of particular interest to the aging male testosterone starts to naturally decline at a steady rate through the decades starting at age 30. And then generally speaking, we see this downward trend down, down, down until you, uh, experienced the demise known as aging. But as the great leaders in the ancestral health movement are quick to point out. Just because we see this normal pattern doesn’t mean that it’s normal and expected for the human to age at what basically is an accelerated rate.
So I have a line in several of the books where uh, the term aging should really be described as the accelerated decline in healthy function due to adverse lifestyle practices or strongly driven by adverse lifestyle practices. And for examples, counter examples, we can see the great athletes, the great performers who are breaking records at advanced age and a lot of times we scoff at them and say, wow, they’re genetic freaks. They’re amazing, they’re so unusual. But really what they’re doing is optimizing their athletic peak performance, adjusted for age. Of course, they’re not breaking world records at age 60, but they’re doing things that we previously thought to be unfathomable because they have avoided the accelerated decline that comes when you just engage in a typical modern lifestyle practices. How about that? I’m having fun lately. Training for the 400 meter run, did my first track meet in a couple of decades. And then you go on YouTube and see these guys. David Pitts, he’s the champion in my age group, 55 plus run in a 54 second 400 meters. And then this guy Charles Ali, who is in the 70 plus division and he can still break 60 seconds in the quarter, absolutely phenomenal. And so many examples of people doing their thing even in the advanced age groups.
So here we go. So this show pulls tips and information from a variety of resources. Uh, particularly my main man, Ben Greenfield, the all knowing Ben Greenfield. Listen to our wonderful podcast. I’m going to have him on again. He’s just released a new book called Boundless, a typical Ben Greenfield masterpiece with 600 plus pages of very, very knowledgeable about a male hormone function and optimizing testosterone. He has some great podcasts on that topic at Ben Greenfield fitness. So I’m sharing some nice information from him. Also from a guy named Ralph Teller, author of Natural Health Peak Performance, Longevity Lifestyle. He had a great article with some tips directed on optimizing testosterone. Uh, get a little plug for Dr. Jack Kruse, the brilliant wild and wacky physician with an anti-aging movement that’s unparalleled with the depth of his research and personal experimentation. So it’s all compiled here and that’s a little fresh variety from uh, just going with, uh, my own, uh, message I’ve created from uh, my own personal research and self experimentation. So we’re going to mix it up a little bit. Let’s talk about sleep first. Shall we? Oh everyone start nodding your head now because most everyone knows how important sleep is. Most everyone has the basics down of how to organize, create a healthy sleep environment and you know, minimize that screen time and get to bed. Uh, but we don’t it.
Huh? I think deep down we all feel a sense of justification. Deservedness at the end of another busy, stressful, hectic day that we’re just allowed to relax, veg out, enjoy some entertainment time. Maybe that’s the only time that you really have to connect with your partner after the kids are at bed. Finally at eight 30 and you have another hour or two hours of free time and it’s easy to want to indulge in screen entertainment. That’s fine. You’re allowed to enjoy your life. And let’s just talk about some strategies here where you can, uh, minimize the damage of the excess artificial light and digital stimulation after dark that we tend to engage in a, so maybe first thing that comes to mind for me is like the form of screen entertainment that you’re engaging in. So if you want to sit on the couch and watch a television screen positioned at 12 feet away or the optimal distance, uh, wearing your blue light blocking eyewear and enjoy a couple shows as you relax, uh, towards the, uh, bedtime hour, Hey, that’s going to give you a much higher score than you cranking away, answering emails, catching up on, uh, lost work opportunities during the day, and then flipping that lid closed and running straight off to bed. That’s a little more a stress hormone stimulating than sitting back and watching passively a television program. Same with playing a video game or anything where you’re using your brain and you’re required to be interactive, that’s going to be more stressful and more potentially sleep disruptive than a relaxing, uh, screen viewing experience. Uh, as far as the handheld devices, we really want to get those out of the bedroom as much as possible or away from your bed. You have the EMF concern as well when you have that thing plugged in by your head. Uh, the, my interview with Brian Hoyer, the dirty electricity EMF expert talks about, uh, getting an improvement when you charge your phone with one of those portable, uh, chargers rather than taking a plug from the wall, if you insist on having it near your head at bedtime, use the charger rather than the plug and you lower your EMF score.
Ideally you charge that puppy outside of your bedroom and then deal with things in the morning. So, uh, the digital devices and those quick reaches for them, uh, late at night when you’re otherwise immersed into a lovely, relaxing bedtime routine that’s going to be muy mal notcias, bad news. So if we’re going to go and engage with the big screen or the medium screen and then, uh, minimize the use of those handheld devices. Great book that I mention often: Lights Out, Sleep, Sugar and Survival is the title where they talk about even minor light exposure can suppress melatonin production. They referenced a study where a single beam of light flashed on the back of the knee, on the skin area in the back of the knee was enough to disturb healthy melatonin production. So when it’s time to go to bed, we want to get that bedroom pitch dark.
Uh, no screen influence, no light influence, uh, going so far as to using electrical tape to tape up the emissions from your plugin devices where they have the little blue light or the green light that is charging. We want to get rid of all that light and have a dark experience, especially as it relates to the golden hours of midnight to 3:00 AM. This is from Dr. Jack Kruse and his fantastic article on his website about the circadian rhythm throughout the day and how it affects our hormonal genetic metabolic function. Uh, it’s the discussion of the circadian clock. So he takes us all the way through a 24 hour experience talking about some of the hot points of what’s going on at this hour, that hour when you wake up at 6:00 AM you want the cortisol spike, the desirable cortisol spike, and then you want cortisol decline over the day. It’s very, very deep and scientifically detailed and difficult to follow.
You’re going to have to read it several times, but it’s a treasure trove of what’s happening around the clock. I’ll give you some high lights cause guess what? He tells you the best time to have sex, the best time to work out and the best time to restore and rejuvenate your hormones. And so what’s happening at 12 midnight to 3:00 AM is this is the peak of hormonal restoration and rejuvenation. So what we want during that time is a completely uninterrupted pitch dark. Because remember these hormone secretions are very sensitive to light, pitch, dark sleeping experience. That’s when you get the spikes of human growth hormone and testosterone that will delay aging and have you waken up every day feeling re vitalized in contrast, if that time has disrupted, if you, God forbid, stay up past midnight, all those kinds of things. Remember everything’s timing back to what time the sun came up, how many hours you’ve been awake, what time the sun went down.
So we want to really focus on that 12 to three as the golden hour for growth hormone, testosterone and other adaptive hormones. Ah, the best time to have sex is around nine to 10:00 AM that’s peak a secretion of sex hormones into the bloodstream and around 2:30 PM is the peak time for muscular coordination. So the best time to do a workout, obviously so many other factors, but it’s just fun and interesting to think about. Here’s a quote from Kruse’s article: 12 to 3:00 are the anabolic times for sleep. When we’re rebuilding our proteins and recycling our cellular contents, they are three of the most hours in all of human biology. If you miss them, you can bet you have several neolithic diseases for sure. Why do you ask? If these three hours are not reached enough during our sleep cycle? Autophagy. That’s the natural cellular detoxification process. Autophagy has never optimized, and celluar repair does not occur in our cells. This means we are using old broken down parts in ourselves. As the next day arrives at 6:00 AM and cortisol rises again to wake us up. Okay, so you thoroughly convinced motivated to prioritize sleep. We have whole shows talking about sleep, creating the optimal environment and minimizing artificial light and digital stimulation after dark.
Let’s get into exercise and how that can essentially make or break your testosterone levels. So when you do it right, you get a fantastic boost of these adaptive hormones. You get the anti-aging benefits and you get the fitness benefits. And if you do it wrong, Oh, there’s no right or wrong here. Yes, there is. If you do it wrong, uh, in the chronic exercise patterns, you will destroy your hormone function and you will accelerate aging rather than slow it down. The opposite of the intended, uh, stated benefit of your exercise program. So let’s first cover sprinting because that’s where you get possibly the greatest return on investment of any exercise or any lifestyle behavior really for testosterone production.
When you sprint you up regulate your androgen receptors in your muscles. So the androgen receptors are extremely important. They are what bind to testosterone. They what bring the testosterone from the bloodstream when from where they were produced in the testes and make them work, make them do their magic. Uh, there’s an interesting article on Dr ShawnBaker’s blog where, you know, he’s the superstar carnivore guy. Uh, we had a great show where he’s talking about his carnivore experience and his world record performances on the indoor rowing machine. So you can’t get a better picture of fitness than this guy in his mid fifties still slamming and one of the best in the world of any age at his chosen sport of this extremely high intensity, high performance rowing where you’re rowing 500 meters for time on the concept to the familiar machine you see in the, in the gym.
Uh, but he had some blood testosterone levels that were on the low side. And so the critics are challenging him. We’ll sup man, how can you do all this and have that massive muscular frame. He’s packing on probably 230 pounds of solid muscle. And he speculates that also his carnivore diet was brought into the discussion because when you have a low insulin producing diet, you might have a higher level of sex hormone binding globulin in the bloodstream. And when you have a high level of sex hormone binding globulin, it could cause a lower testosterone result. Uh, but he proposed that he has, uh, an upregulation of his testosterone receptor sites, his androgen receptor sites such that he’s producing an optimal level of testosterone. It might not be high on a blood test value, but it’s being utilized in a very efficient manner, a much more highly efficient manner than someone who is unfit or less fit.
Okay. So up regulating your androgen receptor sites through brief explosive, high intensity exercise is very important. And we’ve talked about sprinting a lot on the show. There’s shows dedicated to it. Uh, but to frame the discussion for optimizing testosterone, uh, independent of whatever athletic peak performance goals you have and so forth, we’re going to talk about doing really short duration sprints to get the maximum hormonal benefits with minimal risk of creating a fatigue exhaustion and declining hormone levels. Uh, I’ve talked a lot about the great work of Dr. Craig Marker and the sweet spot of doing sprints that lasts between 10 and 20 seconds because you’ll get the training effect, uh, but you will minimize the cellular destruction that occurs when you attempt to sprint for longer than 20 seconds. And we know that we can’t sustain maximum output for longer than 20 seconds anyway. So a true sprint is 20 seconds or less.
Uh, Ben Greenfield goes too far as to say that a six second sprint will work really nicely for this testosterone boosting effect. Uh, if you perform for only six seconds, you are burning pure ATP in the muscle cell. You are not kicking into, uh, the next level of energy production is when you’re going, uh, let’s say above six or seven or eight seconds, up to 30 seconds. And that’s when you’re burning lactate. As you get above 30 seconds and up to two minutes, you’re into the glucose burning range and then two minutes and beyond, you’re burning a mixture of glucose and fat. Just some physiology of what’s going on when you’re exercising. But when you’re doing these pure ATP sprints, these very short sprints, we can say six seconds. I could say maybe go up to 10 seconds to frame the other discussion, uh, and get the training effect without the, uh, cellular breakdown. Oh boy. That’s when you’re boosting these receptor sites and causing a spike in the adaptive hormones, testosterone growth hormone into the bloodstream in response to the optimal, uh, fight or flight stimulation of the workout. So that’s when you’re, uh, doing what your body expects, what your genes expect to make you a healthy, fit, vibrant human being. Ha. Okay.
So the other important factor here is that you have a very long recovery time as much as they tend to one recovery time, that means a six second sprint with a minute recovery. And I know all the athletic types out there are listening. Like, wow, that’s ridiculous. I can recover so quickly. In fact, my recent Tabata class was a set 10 seconds work, 20 seconds rest or the spin class where they’re doing all kinds of crazy stuff like 30 second sprint, 30 second rest times, 10 minutes, and all those things are training sessions that have some intended effect or some preparation effect for a competitive event.
But in this case, we’re going for a testosterone. We’re going for optimal health, short sprint, very long recovery. And what this allows is for a repeated high quality effort. Remember my discussion of high-intensity repeat training versus the more common high intensity interval training, which by definition the interval workout where you’re trying to sustain performance again and again and again with insufficient rest is going to cause an attrition in performance and an accumulation of fatigue. These are the kinds of things, these are the kind of workouts that can get out of hand and turn you into burnout mode and hormone destruction. So let’s be really smart here. Do some explosive efforts. Obviously weight-bearing is really nice and has a bunch of peripheral benefits, stronger connective tissue. There’s also a great stimulation to reduce excess body fat when you’re doing weight bearing, sprinting like running ah, but if you’re not equipped yet, if you’re a worried about injury risk or you don’t have the experience, of course you can do low or no impact sprinting.
Uh, I’ve recently become involved with this cool company called Carol cardiovascular optimized logic, a stationary bicycle, C. A. R. O. L. you can look at their websites. Pretty funny. There’s a guy in a suit doing their workout because their workout protocol on the stationary bike is only eight minutes in duration and they show a lot of scientific support for the idea that an eight minute workout with two maximum effort, 20 second explosive sprints can have more fitness benefit than a much longer workout that we’re familiar with from spinning or Peloton where you’re going for 40, 45 or 60 minutes. Uh, and kind of risking that chronic exercise stimulation rather than the explosive performance and the fitness benefits that come when you push yourself really hard rest and nice long time so that the next sprint and the next are of the same, a super high quality as the first one, and then you’re getting the maximum hormonal benefit.
So we’re going to say six second sprints with a 10 to one recovery ratio. Take it up to 10 seconds. That means you’re resting for around a minute and a half. And Oh my gosh, what I have to say is when I modified my sprint workouts accordingly, after talking with Dr. Marker and resting more, you walk away from the session feeling energized, enthusiastic, positive. Instead of that kind of broken down feeling where you feel like you just trashed yourself and you know, it feels good psychologically that you accomplish something. But what I noticed over the past, let’s see, I started sprinting with great devotion about 14 years ago. So what I noticed, uh, for at least a decade where these great workouts where I went out there and performed and I was psyched and I did great and I felt good. And then 36 to 48 hours later, I would routinely feel like crap.
And I’d chart this in my, uh, my training log, uh, to just track the results of what I was doing. And what was going on here was the delayed recovery, the extended recovery from the sprint workout because I had engaged cellular destruction. It’s called disassembling and de emanation of the proteins in order to provide the fuel to sustain these sprints within sufficient rest periods in between the sprints. So I did fine at the time, right? We can do fine with anything. If there’s a gun to our head, we can go and perform and feel great. But what happens a couple of days later, and that’s when I’d get the, uh, adverse hormonal response, adverse health response, and turning this thing around with longer rest. So don’t be afraid to rest for a nice long time. By the way, that’s how the Olympic sprinters perform their workouts. They do a lot of resting in between some super high devotion efforts and Oh my gosh, we have so much to talk about in so many different categories that this is going to have to be a three part breather show.
Just keeping the dream alive. Keep talking about T as the weeks go on. So thanks for listening. We’re going to jump right in on the next show to talk about the other components of a healthy successful fitness program, which would be a strength training as well as cardio, but you’ve got to get those sprints into the mix. I know there’s a lot of fitness enthusiasts out there. Devotedly go into the gym doing their circuit classes, even working with a trainer, doing group exercise, going through the machine sequence and not really ever touching that maximum intensity level. So there’s a huge void in a great many people’s fitness program because they’re never pushing theirself all the way to the maximum. And especially as we age, we are subject to one of the great natural laws of the universe, which is called use it or lose it, right?
So we got to push that maximum intensity level, do it safely. Like I said, if you’re not ready to run sprints, you can work your way there. You can do uphill sprints or staircase runs, anything where you put out maximum effort. The stationary bike is a fantastic opportunity to do this in a very safe manner, but pushing yourself all the way to the top ceiling and then taking plenty of rest. Even doing just a handful at the start is fine, so if you can do five sprints or four sprints or whatever it takes, the C.A.R.O.L workout is only two sprints of 20 seconds in an eight minute session. It’s a great entry level into the wonderful world of sprinting and testosterone optimization. Thanks for listening to part one. Let’s keep the dream alive. I’ll see ya on the rebound.
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