Why all active men should work to boost their body’s natural production of this anabolic hormone
At the heart of a man’s virility lies the male sex hormone testosterone. Not only is it responsible for developing all male sexual characteristics in adolescent men, but this naturally-produced anabolic hormone is also highly prized for its ability to build prodigious muscle and boost sporting performance.
It’s little wonder then that men are often obsessive in their quest to boost its presence in the body (either naturally or sometimes illegally through the use of steroids), and will look to limit anything that can reduce or limit its production.
Both the natural form and exogenous (externally administered) sources are also highly valued among professional athletes, but it is not just the power athletes who can benefit. A look at the cocktails of performance-enhancing drugs that have pervaded professional cycling over the decades, as a prime example, show that testosterone also has much to offer endurance athletes.
“Multiple sets of short sprints, for instance, are far more effective than a steady-state run or cycle in your quest to boost natural production of the most anabolic of hormones.”
So what exactly is this powerful hormone that many in the testosterone-driven world of muscular development refer to as ‘magical T’. Testosterone is primarily secreted by the testes at the rate of roughly 4-10mg per day, with smaller amounts of up to 0.5mg per day secreted by the adrenal cortex.
Classified as an androgenic hormone, its production in males is regulated by the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis. The hypothalamus secretes gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) which causes the anterior pituitary to produce luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). LH then stimulates Leydig cells in the testes to produce testosterone.
In adolescents, testosterone induces the sex drive in men, it drives the enlargement of the sex organs, and the production of sperm, and lowers the voice. It also plays a central role in the development of muscle mass – the growth of new muscle cells and the repair of damaged tissue. It increases bone density, boosts strength, maintains energy levels, enhances immune function, boosts a man’s basal or resting metabolic rate, decreases body-fat stores, and promotes feelings of self-confidence.
It is also critical for protein synthesis as it is a primary growth factor – it binds to receptors on the surface of muscle cells, amplifying the biochemical signals within muscles. This results in protein synthesis and muscle growth. Testosterone also helps increase growth hormone levels, another growth factor, further enhancing protein synthesis, and it improves insulin sensitivity as this is linked to changes in testosterone-cortisol balance.