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No shortcuts for more testosterone

health and fitness Updated: Jan 30, 2010 14:44 IST
Glyn Bradfield
Glyn Bradfield
Hindustan Times
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Please suggest some exercises to boost my testosterone level. I go to the gym regularly: I run on the treadmill for 15 to 20 minutes at an average speed of 11.5 km per hour and lift heavy weights - Vivek

Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone in both men and women, though men produce higher quantities of it. The only way to artificially increase your testosterone level is by taking supplements such as steroids and the Human Growth Hormone (HGH), or through testosterone patches. But not only are these illegal in competitive sport, they also interfere with the normal functioning of the body. Instead, look to naturally increase testosterone levels through exercise and diet.

There is some proof that testosterone levels improve with high intensity (rather than long duration) exercise and certain forms of resistance training. More than 20 per cent of the exercise should be above 80 per cent of your anaerobic threshold. So you’re probably doing the correct thing already.

When it comes to exercise, you need to have a structured plan. Aim to use multiple muscle groups to the maximum level of intensity within each exercise i.e. use them to failure. But you can’t do this unless you have a periodised plan, as training to exhaustion in every session will just lead to overtraining and reverse any gains you might achieve.

The key exercises are those that engage multiple joints and therefore involve the largest number of muscles. These include free weight squats, dead lifts, the bench press, power cleans, snatches etc.

To enhance your testosterone level through nutrition, eat foods that are rich in zinc such as oysters, red meat, chicken, turkey, beans and dairy products. Cabbage is particularly packed with zinc: it has roughly six times the amount of zinc per calorie consumed compared to beef!