Does Squatting Increase Testosterone? (7 Benefits Revealed)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: April 2, 2024
Our content is meticulously researched and reviewed by an expert team of fact checkers and medical professionals. They ensure accuracy, relevance, and timeliness using the latest reputable sources, which are cited within the text and listed at the end of the article. Before publication and upon significant updates, we confirm factual accuracy, committed to providing readers with well-informed content. Learn more.

Whether you’re lifting as an amateur or for competitive sports, compound exercises (like the squat, bench press, and deadlift) are crucial for enhancing muscle mass and athletic performance.

In my 10+ years of training clients, I’ve always incorporated squats in their training, and some of them asked me if this particular exercise can help boost their T-levels.

I decided to read up on what the scientific literature said about this, so I spent a few weeks researching various studies and discussing them with my colleagues to understand more about the hormonal effects of squats.

Quick Summary

  • Squats can increase testosterone levels when done properly, and effectively.
  • The benefits of doing squats range from hormonal balance to building stronger lower muscles, reducing the risks of developing an injury and enhancing athletic performance.
  • According to Harvard Medical School, a 155-pound person could burn 223 calories in 30 minutes of squat training.
  • In my professional view, squats are an unparalleled exercise for boosting testosterone and overall fitness.

Do Squats Increase Testosterone Levels?

Man doing squats inside his home

Yes, squats can increase testosterone levels when performed correctly, along with other exercises that engage multiple muscle groups.

A study published in the Neuroendocrinology Letter journal, conducted on 960 Han Chinese males between the ages of 19 and 26, shows squats boost testosterone and growth hormone levels [1]. I've seen this too; clients who squat feel more energetic and gain muscle quicker, thanks to these hormonal changes.

But it's not just squats. Any workout that works lots of muscles can spike testosterone. The International Journal of Sports Medicine found this true for heavy-weight resistance training [2].

From my fitness training days, squats involve more muscles than any other exercise.

They're super effective for athletes, says the Strength and Conditioning Journal [3]. Squats power up key muscles for lifting, running, and jumping.

That's why I call squats the king of exercises that boost testosterone, whether for bodybuilding, powerlifting, or calisthenics.

Benefits of Doing Squats

Now that it’s clear that squats increase your testosterone levels, let’s take a look at some of the many benefits this exercise offers.

1. Hormonal Benefits

Man doing squats inside a studio

When training folks with low testosterone, I find squats help them bulk up faster than other compound exercises if they eat right and recover properly.

Squats likely boost human growth hormone (HGH), key for cell growth. Harvard Medical School says HGH peaks in puberty and dips after middle age [4].

The American Diabetes Association recognizes the importance of human growth hormone (HGH) for muscle building and protein synthesis, particularly noting its effect on increasing amino acids phenylalanine by 51% and leucine by 50%, as observed in a specific 1992 study [5].

Sleep and exercise are the top ways to increase HGH in adults, according to the 2014 Physiological Society Journal study [6]. In the study, peak HGH increased by 123% from sleep to sleep deprivation when combined with short-term, high-intensity exercise.

Growth Hormone and IGF Research studies reveal heavy resistance exercises, especially squats, raise HGH in both men and women [7]. Plus, nailing tough squat variations gives a mental lift, indirectly helping hormonal balance.

2. Stronger Core Muscles

A 2018 study by the Journal of Human Kinetics found that squats activate your core more than most exercises (even planks) [8]. To build a stronger back and abs, you must brace your core when squatting.

3. Stronger Lower Body

Squats strengthen your lower body muscles, which can have an incredible carryover effect on athletic performance and reduce the risk of injury.

4. Calorie Burner

Squats burn a high number of calories despite not being a cardio exercise. According to Harvard Medical School, a 155-pound person could burn 223 calories during 30 minutes of squat training [9].

5. Stronger Athletic Abilities

Squats are popular among many athletes because they work out various muscles, making them a prime exercise for boosting overall athletic ability.

Moreover, when compared to other testosterone-influencing exercises like deadlifts, squats offer a unique combination of muscle engagement and hormonal response.

6. Lower Risk of Injury

When done in proper form, squats strengthen your muscles, bones, tendons, and ligaments. According to the American Council on Exercise, this may help reduce injuries [10].

7. Versatility

One of the best things about the squat is that it has many variations that can be done anywhere with little or no equipment. So, it’s one of the easiest exercises to perform when traveling.

Why Should You Squat With Proper Form?

A man wearing a headset while performing squats

You should squat with proper form because it is essential to engage muscles effectively and prevent injuries that can hinder your progress.

I've learned from training and client experiences that bad squat form often causes knee and back injuries, setting you back for months and messing up other exercises like deadlifts.

So, I'm all about nailing the right squat technique.

 

With injuries, you’re highly likely to miss out on heavy workouts that can further your progress.

Also, warming up before squatting is a must. A solid warmup boosts muscle temperature and blood flow, improving your performance and lowering injury risk, says the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation [11].

“Learning how to squat correctly is important for many movements you perform during everyday life, as well as for just about any type of sport.”

- Dr. Matthew T. Boes, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon

6 Variations for Beginners

Different variations of squatting

Over my decade of fitness training, I've introduced many beginners to various squat variations from different cultures.

Each variation offers unique benefits for building a strong core and lower body, including a positive impact on testosterone levels.

These compound squat exercises target multiple muscle groups. Here's our list of the top squat variations, from toughest to simplest. You'll need a squat rack for the first three.

1. High Barbell Back Squat

To perform the high barbell squat:

  1. Load the barbell safely on your back and shoulders. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your toes pointing outward.
  2. Brace your core, and keep your chest up. Take a deep breath through your mouth.
  3. While holding your breath, lower yourself by initiating the squat movement. You can either squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor or go as deep as possible.
  4. Push through with your whole body, and return to the starting position.

2. Low Bar Back Squat

It's like the high barbell squat but with feet wider than shoulder width and the barbell just below the traps.

You can lift more weight with this squat.

3. Front Squat

Man doing a barbell front squat

Note that it requires flexible wrists. Use wrist straps if needed, especially for front squats.

To perform a front squat:

  1. Stand facing the barbell on the squat rack, and position it so it rests in front of your shoulders. Keep it stable by holding it with your fingers under the barbell.
  2. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes slightly outward.
  3. Follow steps 3 and 4 of the high barbell back squat.

4. Deep Squat

To perform a deep squat:

  1. Do a regular bodyweight squat. But instead of stopping when your thighs are parallel to the floor, go as low as possible while maintaining a straight back.
  2. Once you reach the bottom, pause and explode up.
  3. You may add weight by holding a dumbbell or kettlebell.

You can also incorporate a jump when exploding up to make this a plyometric exercise, but beware of the additional weight, as it may cause injury upon landing.

5. Prisoner Squat

Man doing hand-behind-head squats outdoors

To perform the prisoner squat:

  1. Stand with your legs placed a little less than shoulder-width apart. Place both your arms behind your head (with your palms touching the back of your head).
  2. Pull back your elbows and keep your chest lifted.
  3. Lower yourself down to a parallel or full squat.
  4. Straighten up and repeat.

6. Bodyweight Squats

If any of these are difficult, you can simply start off with bodyweight squats. To perform these:

  1. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Squat down by bending your knees, keeping your arms in front of you, and keeping your back straight.
  3. Once your thighs are parallel to the floor, come up.
  4. Repeat until you’re ready to add weights.

“Performing body weight squats daily can help to maintain your body's tolerance to daily activities. Strengthening the back muscles is ultimately the best way to prevent back injuries when lifting and carrying heavier objects.”

- Dr. Tim Schuckers, PT, DPT, OCS

Some Precautions

Three different people performing kettlebell squat

While squats are a super effective exercise, it’s easy to mess them up and injure yourself. So, here are some precautions to keep you squatting regularly and effectively:

  • Use proper form: Using proper form is key to preventing injuries and making the best of your compound lifts.
  • Get enough rest and recovery: Squats demand a high level of mental and physical exertion, especially when you perform heavy squats. And I’ve seen too many squat injuries that result from over-exertion and lack of rest.
  • Eat well: Eat only foods rich in protein to gain muscle and help your muscles recover. While lifting light with sore muscles is okay, don’t lift heavy reps on rest days.
  • Take the right supplements: If you want to see a significant increase in testosterone naturally, we highly recommend taking natural testosterone boosters to enhance your performance with your resistance exercises.

FAQs

Should I Add Squats to My Lifts Even if I’m Doing Other Leg Exercises?

Yes, you should add squats to your lifts even if you’re doing other leg exercises. Squats demand a high level of leg-muscle activation (in addition to other muscles). Adding squats to your weight training regimen will only have benefits unless you suffer from injuries.

How Frequently Should I Perform Squats to Increase Testosterone?

You should perform heavy squats at least once a week to increase testosterone. Experts assert that a rep scheme of 6 sets of 10 squats might be most effective in increasing post-exercise testosterone. However, this will also depend on how heavy you’re lifting and your current testosterone levels.

Can the Leg Press Increase Testosterone as Well as Squats?

No, the leg press cannot increase testosterone levels as well as squats because they don’t engage as many muscles as squats. Additionally, different variations of the squat may affect your post-testosterone levels differently based on the muscles they engage.

Why Haven’t My Testosterone Levels Risen After Squatting Regularly?

Your testosterone levels haven’t risen after squatting regularly, probably because you may not be recovering well, among a host of other reasons. Another reason is that you may not be doing your squats using a proper form; this affects how many muscle groups you engage and, by extension, your post-workout testosterone levels.


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30531700/
  2. https://www.thieme-connect.de/products/ejournals/abstract/10.1055/s-2007-1024673
  3. https://journals.lww.com/nsca-scj/fulltext/2014/12000/the_back_squat__a_proposed_assessment_of.2.aspx
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/growth-hormone-athletic-performance-and-aging
  5. https://diabetesjournals.org/diabetes/article/41/4/424/7956/Growth-Hormone-Stimulates-Skeletal-Muscle-Protein
  6. https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.14814/phy2.12166
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1096637415000209
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6006542/
  9. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diet-and-weight-loss/calories-burned-in-30-minutes-for-people-of-three-different-weights
  10. https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/
  11. https://e-jer.org/journal/view.php?number=2013600467
Was this article helpful?
YesNo

About The Author

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Staff Writer & Senior Coach
James Cunningham, BSc, CPT holds a BSc degree in Sport & Exercise Science from University of Hertfordshire. He's a Health & Performance Coach from London that brings a unique blend of academic knowledge of health supplements and practical exercise experience to the table for his readers.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD is a published peer-reviewed author and renowned physician from India with over a decade of experience. With her MBBS from Bharati Vidyapeeth and an MD from Rajiv Gandhi University, she actively ensures the accuracy of online dietary supplement and medical information by reviewing and fact-checking health publications.
Learn more about our editorial policy
Dr. Kristy June Dayanan, BS, MD is an author with a BS degree from University of the Philippines and an MD from University of Perpetual Help System. Her ability to simplify medical science complexities and dietary supplement jargon for the average reader makes her a valued medical fact checker and reviewer.
Learn more about our editorial policy

You May Also Like

Close up shot of coffee beans with caffeine on a wooden spoon
By Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC 5 months ago
What Is Caffeine? (Benefits & Side Effects Revealed)
A hairy man sitting outside with a lot of testosterone
By Benedict Ang, CPT, PN1-NC 5 months ago
Does More Body Hair Mean More Testosterone? (Truth Revealed)
A jogger running outside to boost his testosterone levels
By James Cunningham, BSc, CPT 5 months ago
Does Running Increase Testosterone? (Backed By Research)
A guy holding an almond milk
By Dr. Harshi Dhingra, MBBS, MD 2 months ago
Does Almond Milk Increase Testosterone? (From a Dietician)
A jar full of Pomegranate juice and fruit beside
By James Cunningham, BSc, CPT 3 months ago
Does Pomegranate Juice Increase Testosterone? (Explained)
Top view of sliced pineapple for testosterone increase
By James Cunningham, BSc, CPT 4 months ago
Does Pineapple Increase Testosterone?

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Our scoring system is the result of objective testing data and subjective expert analysis by a team of fitness coaches and medical experts. Our scoring factors are weighted based on importance. For more information, see our product review guidelines.