Does Testosterone Make You Stronger? (From An Expert)

James Cunningham, BSc, CPT
Published by James Cunningham, BSc, CPT | Staff Writer & Senior Coach
Last updated: November 29, 2023
FACT CHECKED by Dr. Kristy Dayanan, BS, MD
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With over a decade of experience in training young men to improve their strength and body composition, I’ve constantly been researching ways to increase their testosterone naturally.

Low testosterone levels are often correlated with a decrease in muscle mass and strength, but I wanted to see what the scientific literature says about whether testosterone actually makes you stronger.

So, I spent a few days researching various studies and discussing them with an endocrinologist to gain a deeper insight into this matter.

Here’s exactly what we found.

Quick Summary

  • Testosterone significantly enhances muscle strength and mass, playing a crucial role in muscle-protein synthesis and response to resistance training.
  • Methods to increase testosterone include natural ways, anabolic-androgenic steroids, and testosterone replacement therapy, with the latter two providing artificial testosterone boosts.
  • The majority of testosterone release in men occurs during sleep, highlighting the importance of quality sleep for maintaining testosterone levels.
  • In my personal opinion, while testosterone can be a powerful tool for increasing strength, its use, especially through artificial means, should be approached with caution due to potential health risks.

Can Testosterone Make You Stronger?

Healthy athlete with beard

Yes, testosterone can make you stronger. In my coaching experience, I've seen firsthand how increased testosterone significantly boosts muscle strength and mass in my clients.

It plays a major role in the muscle-protein synthesis, which helps you build muscle mass and develop strength [1].

Testosterone is considered to be the major promoter of increased muscle mass and strength in response to resistance training, according to the study published in PubMed [2].

The fact that testosterone can make you stronger is why many professional athletes take testosterone treatment in the form of steroids.

How Do People Use Testosterone to Get Stronger?

Using a dumbbell to grow muscles

People use testosterone to get stronger by naturally increasing their testosterone levels, taking anabolic-androgenic steroids, or going on testosterone replacement therapy.

The last two methods artificially boost testosterone beyond natural levels. We'll delve into natural enhancement strategies later, but first, let's examine these artificial options more closely.

Anabolic-Androgenic Steroids

Simply put, anabolic steroids work by stimulating muscle mass to grow by mimicking the effects of testosterone.

When you take anabolic steroids, you have control over how much testosterone your body gets to use.

Anabolic steroids, taken orally or through injections, significantly enhance muscle strength and size beyond what natural testosterone allows, explaining why professional bodybuilders and powerlifters often have more muscle mass compared to natural athletes.

From my observations in the fitness industry, athletes using anabolic steroids often achieve muscle gains that far surpass those attainable through natural testosterone levels.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy

Testosterone replacement therapy (henceforth TRT) is usually administered to men (and some teens) who suffer from the effects of low testosterone. It’s used to return their T-levels to a normal range.

In my coaching career, I've guided several clients through TRT, witnessing their transformation as their testosterone levels returned to normal.

However, even people who don’t suffer from low testosterone misuse testosterone therapy to gain an unfair advantage in competitive events.

“Muscle cells have receptors for testosterone called androgen receptors. When testosterone binds to the receptors, muscle fibers are maintained. Without testosterone, maintenance stops and muscle is degraded.”

- Dr. Ronald Tamler, MD, Professor of Medicine

Benefits of High Testosterone

Testosterone plays a positive role in both men and women. Since it mostly benefits men, we’re going to look at the positives of high T-levels in men [3].

Beyond its physical effects, testosterone plays a crucial role in cognitive function and mood regulation, influencing aspects such as memory, focus, and potentially guarding against cognitive decline, a facet often overlooked in discussions about this hormone.

Naturally high testosterone has the following effects:

  • Builds strong bone density
  • Promotes better fat distribution
  • Helps increase muscle mass
  • Helps increase muscle strength
  • Stimulates facial and pubic hair
  • Regulates production of red blood cells
  • Regulates sex drive and prevents erectile dysfunction
  • Increases bone mineral density
  • Keeps healthy sperm count

Side Effects

A guy having an acne

Interestingly, having too much testosterone can lead to several negative side effects in men and women, according to Medical News Today [4].

Unlike natural testosterone, exogenous sources like steroids can cause several side effects.

Let's look at the most common ones in men and women.

In men:

  • Acne
  • Aggression (and mood swings)
  • Headaches
  • Excessive body hair
  • Heart and liver issues
  • Low sperm count
  • Higher libido
  • Hypertension
  • Prostate enlargement
  • Swelling of legs and feet
  • Infertility
  • Insomnia

In women:

  • Acne
  • Loss of libido
  • Enlarged clitoris
  • Irregular periods
  • Excess facial and body hair
  • Dark and thickened skin
  • Deepened voice
  • Reduced breast size
  • Thinning hair
  • Weight gain
  • Infertility
  • Increased chances of breast cancer
  • Anxiety and depression

Some Natural Solutions

Man holding salad and smiling at the camera

Here are four ways to naturally increase your testosterone. In my coaching practice, I've successfully helped clients boost their testosterone naturally through diet, exercise, adequate sleep, and supplements.

1. Eat Foods That Support Your Testosterone Production

Ginger, oysters, pomegranates, fortified milk plants, green leafy vegetables, fatty fish, fish oil, onions, and extra-virgin olive oil are best foods to boost testosterone production [5].

In conjunction, it’s best to also avoid foods that lead to low testosterone levels [6].

2. Exercise

According to WebMD, moderate-level exercise is directly correlated with an increase in testosterone levels [7]. So, if your current lifestyle is stagnant, incorporate cardio and weight training into your schedule.

3. Get Lots of Sleep

Sleep and testosterone are connected more than people think. The majority of testosterone release in men occurs during sleep [8]. In fact, sleep fragmentation and lack of quality sleep lead to reduced testosterone levels.

Sleep may also indirectly affect your testosterone by helping your muscles recover after a workout, based on the research published in PubMed [9]. With better recovery, you’ll be able to perform better in the gym.

4. Natural Testosterone Supplements

Natural testosterone boosters for men and t-boosters for women are one of the best ways to increase testosterone. These products use natural and clinically proven ingredients to naturally raise your T-levels, improve your mood, enhance your workouts, and help you recover.

FAQs

How Do I Know I’ve Increased My Testosterone Production?

You know you’ve increased your testosterone production when you experience the positive benefits of the hormone. To get a more accurate answer, you can check your T-levels with a simple blood test.

Do Men Always Have Higher Testosterone Than Women?

While men naturally have higher levels of testosterone than women, certain disorders with the adrenal glands (like polycystic ovary syndrome) can lead to unnaturally high levels of testosterone in women [10].


References:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2917954/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21058750/
  3. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/sexual-health/in-depth/testosterone-therapy/art-20045728
  4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/signs-of-high-testosterone
  5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323759
  6. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/325186#bread-pastries-and-desserts
  7. https://www.webmd.com/men/features/exercise-and-testosterone
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4445839/
  9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21550729/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3846536/
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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.
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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.
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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

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