Resistance Training and Testosterone in Women
According to the Journal of Sports Medicine, testosterone is important for the desired adaptations to resistance exercise and training. Testosterone is considered a major promoter of muscle growth and the subsequent increase in muscle strength and response…in males.
As we know, acute endocrine response to heavy resistance exercises generally includes increased secretion of various anabolic hormones in men. Findings on women in regard to testosterone response have been ambiguous, with both increases and no changes observed in response to a bout of heavy resistance exercise. What can be said about testosterone for both men and women is that testosterone is an important modulator of muscle mass, and acute increases in testosterone can be induced by resistance exercise.
For women, remember, the key word is “can.” Many factors affect how women react to resistance training, including the program itself, the trainee’s age, and the movement efficiency of the female. In regard to programming in general, the variables within must be selected such that the resistance exercise session contains high volume and metabolic demand in order to induce an acute testosterone response.
"Doing too much metcon training or HIIT sessions can cause issues and may even lower your testosterone, as well as many other metabolic hormones."
How to Train for Higher Testosterone Levels in Females
Any strength cycle longer than eight weeks seems to be the precursor to endocrine adaptation for increased testosterone levels. You may start with lower testosterone levels in the beginning, but as you progress in your strength cycle, you should see elevations in testosterone in the second and third phases.
When I talk about “increases,” I mean increases in resting, free testosterone and elevations post-exercise. The catch is, of course, that you need to do this sort of programming correctly. Doing too many metcons or HIIT sessions can cause issues and may even lower your testosterone, as well as many other metabolic hormones.
Strength Exercises for Increasing Testosterone
Squat- The basic squat uses several large muscles simultaneously. Any squat variation will increase your testosterone, including the front squat and hack squat.
Leg Press and Leg Extension- If you use machines as part of your workout plan, the leg press and extension are movements that also incorporate your bigger leg musculature, which can increase your testosterone.
Deadlift- Another multi-joint movement that uses the bigger muscles of the lower body.
Olympic Lifts- In general, Olympic lifting will increase your testosterone and decrease your cortisol, if done correctly. Everything associated with the lifts, including the auxiliary workouts such as complexes, will help you with this. But it’s important to do complexes correctly and know they are there not just for conditioning purposes, but to work strength in each aspect of the movement.
Plyometric Exercises for Increasing Testosterone
Plyometrics can also work to build your testosterone levels. If you are doing plyometric work, it’s best to combine resistance training of the upper body with plyometrics for the lower body.
"For females, programming is the key to finding the best hormonal balance and response."
The general purpose of plyometrics is to increase the power of movements by using both the natural elastic components of muscle and tendon and the stretch reflex. Essentially, you are using elastic energy and more motor-recruitment patterns. Such movements like the box jump can improve your testosterone and metabolic hormones.
Your best bet for increasing your testosterone response is a mixture of cardiovascular exercise, high intensity interval training, and resistance training. For females, programming is the key to finding the best hormonal balance and response. Improper programming can hinder hormonal responses in the female body.
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