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Does Running Increase Testosterone? (Backed By Research)

Michael Garrico
Published by Michael Garrico
Last updated: December 13, 2022

As a certified fitness coach, I always encourage my clients to add running to their training routine for endurance, muscle strength, and losing stubborn fats.

But a few months ago, while researching other benefits of running, I came across the notion that it can elevate testosterone levels.

So, I took a few weeks to research the topic and understand how running boosts testosterone levels.

Keep on reading to see what I found out.

Quick Summary

  • Short, high-intensity sprints may be beneficial to your testosterone levels.
  • Running increases the testosterone-to-cortisol level ratio in the body.
  • Strength training and HIITs are other exercises that can boost testosterone.

What Is Testosterone?

A doctor looking up what testosterone is

Testosterone is the male sex hormone involved in the development of men's sexual characteristics and differentiation, sperm production, as well as fertility [1].

Testosterone is a particular androgen produced mainly by Leydig cells in the testicles.

However, it is found in lesser concentrations in females.

Along with sperm synthesis, testosterone controls a variety of other processes in males.

These include:

  • Sexual drive
  • Bone mass
  • Distribution of fat
  • Muscle mass and power
  • Production of red blood cells

"When the levels of testosterone are at their highest, you have more energy, heart health benefits, improved attitude, memory, and sex drive. You have bone strength and lean muscle mass as well."

- Dr. Noel Young, MD

Men become infertile when their testosterone levels are insufficient.

This is because testosterone aids in the maturation of sperm [2].

Though testosterone is a hormone associated with males, it also plays a role in women's sexual desire, bone density, and muscular strength.

However, too much testosterone can also lead to infertility and female pattern baldness [3].

Does Running Boost Testosterone Levels?

A runner jogging outside to boost testosterone levels

Yes, running boosts testosterone by promoting muscle building.

Your levels of testosterone increase as your muscle mass increases.

According to research, brief, high-intensity sprints are far more effective in raising the low testosterone level.

Athletes in one research completed four 250-meter sprints on the mill at 80% of their maximum speed, given three minutes of recovery in between.

The testosterone-to-cortisol ratio increased greatly, as did levels of testosterone [4].

These findings suggest that sprinting, a type of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), produces an anabolic or muscle-building response similar to strength training.

Increased muscular mass means increased testosterone production.

Can Running Negatively Impact Testosterone?

A runner with a headache because of testosterone levels

Yes, running can negatively impact testosterone in some cases.

While running is a great cardiovascular exercise, steady and slow sessions do not generate the required intensity to increase testosterone production.

Running for an extended time and distance and regularly practicing regular endurance exercise may lead to low testosterone levels.

This is because endurance activities cause a rise in cortisol, a stress hormone your body produces in reaction to intense stress.

Cortisol levels are known to impair your body's capability of producing serum testosterone [5].

Data from research with male endurance athletes discovered that a long continuous run on a treadmill for 97 minutes at 75% of the participant’s maximal speed generated a substantial drop in free testosterone levels [6].

This reduction lasted for 72 hours following the workout session.

In short, continuously training in a way that depletes testosterone without enough recovery may result in a chronic condition of low testosterone.

Other Exercises That Increase Testosterone

A man doing exercises that boost testosterone

The multi-joint exercises are also excellent for testosterone-boosting as they activate the body's major muscle groups.

Let’s take a look at some of these exercises in detail.

Resistance Training

Sometimes known as "weight" or "endurance training," it includes pushing your muscles to operate against a mass load.

You can use weight equipment, free weights, resistance bands, and your body weight to do this.

Besides the clear advantages of this activity, like building muscles, fat loss, increased endurance, flexibility, and strength, the immediate and long-term T-boosting effects are an additional bonus.

One research discovered that low testosterone levels increased significantly in males who did weight training three times a week for four weeks [7].

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Two people at the gym doing high intensity interval training

HIIT is characterized by brief bursts of intensive activity followed by intervals of recovery or lower-intensity workouts.

It is believed to burn fat, improve muscle growth in some people, and help boost low testosterone levels.

A 2012 research contrasted HIIT against steady-state endurance exercise (SSE).

The results showed that people who ran for 45 minutes nonstop had a smaller testosterone rise than those who alternated between intense sprints and easy jogs every 90 seconds [8].

Leg Workouts

While it's easy to imagine that having more testosterone means having a lot of biceps (and inversely), this doesn't imply you should only practice upper-body workouts.

One research divided individuals into two groups: arm-only workouts and leg-and-arm workouts.

Results demonstrated that testosterone production was much greater in those who activated both their upper and lower bodies [9].

I combine sprinting with my endurance training to further raise testosterone levels in my body.

Tips for Naturally Boosting Testosterone Levels

A buff male boosting his testosterone levels through working out

You need more than just running to increase your testosterone levels.

Adopting lifestyle choices that can enhance general health and well-being is the greatest natural way to boost low testosterone levels.

Below are some tips on how to naturally boost your testosterone levels:

  • Consume a diet heavy on proteins, fat, and carbohydrates.
  • Reduce your anxiety and cortisol levels.
  • Get some vitamin D from the sun, or use vitamin D pills.
  • Get seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
  • Consider botanicals such as ashwagandha, ginger, and horny goat weed.
  • Avoid compounds that might boost natural estrogen, such as bisphenol A (BPA), in males.

If natural remedies do not relieve your symptoms, consult a doctor regarding the best options to increase your T levels.

FAQs

Which Exercise Increases Testosterone Most?

The exercise that increases testosterone the most is strength training, like weight lifting. It offers both short- and long-term effects on testosterone production.

Does Cardio Increase Testosterone?

Yes, cardio may increase testosterone levels. It may help boost your metabolism, thus burning fat and increasing your T levels.

Does Training Legs Increase Testosterone?

Yes, training your legs may increase testosterone. It can also lead to human growth hormone (HGH) production, which improves fat metabolism, endurance, and muscle building.

Is Running Sufficient for Boosting Testosterone?

Running, particularly sprinting, is an effective way to boost your testosterone levels.

However, sufficiently raising your T levels requires changing your diet and everyday habits.

In addition, I recommend incorporating only these natural testosterone boosters into your daily regimen.

With the help of a few clients, we’ve tested these boosters, and they've been shown to boost testosterone levels, reduce stress, and improve sexual function and mood.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526128/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562258/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526128/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19057403/
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12665985/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27262888/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17051372/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23310924/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11782267/
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