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Do Squats and Deadlifts Increase Testosterone? – The Answer

Aug 13, 2018

Have you ever wondered do squats and deadlifts increase testosterone?

That’s a trick questions because I know you have.

How do I know?

Well if you’ve been lifting for any length of time, you know that testosterone increases from working out.

Then a little more time goes by and you learn how important testosterone is for building muscle and the overall health for a man.

So at that point, you’re next logical question is: “how can I increase my testosterone from working out?”

You’ve probably seen a couple videos or read a forum where the people mentioned that compound lifts like squats and deadlifts can increase testosterone.

And then BAM!!!

You’re here because you want to find the answer to your question of  “do squats and deadlifts increase testosterone?”

I totally just mind ninja’d you.

Anyway, first, let’s get some important things out of the way:

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Once you got that sorted out then you can focus on the rest of the article

Thanks to one of our Dark Iron Fitness writers, Tina Ngai, for digging up all the data and compiling this article together for us we’re going to be going over some  good content to answer the question of  “do squats and deadlifts increase testosterone?”

Let’s discuss…


Squats and Deadlifts Increasing Testosterone

To cut straight to the point here’s some fact-based evidence supporting that squats and deadlifts DO increase testosterone

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research writes about a study that compared two groups of men, of similar weightlifting experience, who performed heavy 6×10 sets of leg presses and squats.

Squats increased testosterone from 23.9 to 31.4, leg press 22.1 to 26.9 (nmol/L).

More significantly, growth hormone increased much more for the squat (0.2 to 9.5 μg/L) than for the leg press (0.3 to 2.8).

Cortisol also increased more (472 to 603) vs leg press (464 to 520).

Total work was also much higher since the total distance moved and the number of muscles engaged is much higher.

Exercises were done in sets of 6×10 with 2 minutes of rest between sets with the starting weight at 80% of 1RM.

This was not an easy workout session–6×10 starting at 80% of 1RM is a significant workout.

And this supporting article also give evidence of deadlifts increasing testosterone as well.


Cardio Increasing Testosterone

Cardio workouts can also increase testosterone.

Biking and sprinting are good examples of testosterone-boosting exercises.

Running uphill and working out on a training bike with a high-resistance setting can also increase testosterone levels.

Swimming and stair stepping for 30 to 45 minutes every day is another great cardiovascular exercise.

It’ll also help you lose weight if you’re overweight.

Obesity is a leading cause of low testosterone levels.


How to Train to Increase Testosterone

does workoing out legs builds testosterone

T-Nation put it nicely – to increase your testosterone as much as possible while exercising, keep the following in mind:

Use compound, complex movements in your training in order for your body to release as much testosterone as possible

Compound exercises are the type of movements that stress the biggest amount of muscle fibers and involve more than one joint, and more than one muscle group when you perform the movement.

This would be the difference between doing bicep curls and deadlifts.

The first works only the biceps, which are small muscles.

The second works your legs, which are the biggest muscles in your body, your back muscle which are the second biggest, your traps, your core (abs) etc.

Can you imagine how much more testosterone your body needs to produce to keep up with a set of deadlifts compared to a set of curls?

Smaller, isolation exercises should be performed after the big, complex movements like the squats and deadlifts.

Research has shown that multiple sets of an exercise are better for boosting testosterone than one set.


How Many Reps and Sets?

Most of the time you need at least four sets, more would be better.

Train with more sets and reps: Three reps for one set won’t be enough, you need a sufficient number of sets with a total number of reps for each squat or lift that will be high enough to maximize your testosterone without causing you to burn out.

If time forces you to choose more sets or more reps per set, choose more sets.

Focus on high-intensity training where there is a balance between volume and intensity so that you feel some strain when lifting or squatting.

You need to focus on exploding the weights up and keeping the rest periods as short as possible.

While you can do high reps with low weights or low reps with high weights, studies have shown that it definitely takes heavy weights to significantly boost testosterone

Full body, heavy exercises like squats, and deadlifts, should ideally be used, at 85-95% of your 1RM (or one repetition maximum).

Testosterone releases into your body when you put it under stress and beyond its limits.

Your muscles need to be stressed to a point where they are forced to grow bigger and stronger.

Otherwise, they will stay the same, seeing no need to waste valuable energy on developing a bigger musculature.


How to Ensure You Continue to Increase Testosterone

Keep in mind that for any physical goal, the body will always take the path of least resistance.

Put it in an environment where your goal is the only possible outcome.

If you lift light weights and don’t feel fatigued your body won’t need to produce more testosterone.

But it will produce more when your body is placed in a situation where it realizes that it can’t perform the task that you assigned it.

Don’t just take it from me, though!

Head over to our friend Valentin Bosoic’s article here, where you can get another perspective on ramping up your testosterone through heavy squats.


Understanding Testosterone

Sometimes we feel like we pay our dues at the gym — going there almost every day, sweating hard between sets, and pushing our bodies to the limit, but we still don’t see the results we were hoping for and find ourselves asking the following:

“What am I doing wrong, why aren’t I growing?”do squats release growth hormone

“What is the problem with my body?”

“Are my testosterone levels too low? “

“How do I increase my testosterone?”

Testosterone is the father of all muscle-building hormones.

Whether you’re training to get bigger, faster, leaner, or stronger, testosterone is the steroid hormone that can make a world of difference.

Too little of it and you’ll get nowhere, too much of it (synthetically through supplements) and you’ll end up with some nasty side effects.

It also plays a significant role in the sexual and reproductive development and body-fat levels.

According to Live Strong:

“Testosterone is produced in the testes in men, and in the ovaries and adrenal glands in women.

Women generally have significantly lower levels.

Testosterone production starts to increase significantly during puberty, and begins to dip after age 30 or so.

Testosterone is most often associated with sex drive, and plays a vital role in sperm production.

But it also affects bone and muscle mass, the way men store fat in the body, and even red blood cell production.

A man’s testosterone levels can also affect his mood.”


Studies on Testosterone and Exercising

exercises that increase testosterone

Some studies have shown that it is possible to increase your testosterone level by exercising.

For example, in one study Schwab et al. (from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 1993) measured the testosterone level in two groups of male research participants to obtain their baseline level.

Then both groups were asked to perform four sets of six squats.

One group of men squatted while using heavy weights and the other group of men used light weights during their squats.

After both groups of men were finished with their squats, Schwab et al. remeasured their testosterone levels.

They found that testosterone levels were increased from the baseline in both sets of men, regardless of whether or not they had used heavy or light weights.


Are These Sustainable Results?

However, 10 minutes after the men were finished exercising their testosterone levels dropped back to the baseline level.

A different study by Craig et al. (1989) found that strength training for 45-60 minutes raised testosterone levels in both young and elderly men, but not to a level that reached statistical significance.

In a more recent study, Marin et al. (2006) found that exercise also increased testosterone levels in men.

Men who participated in this study had their testosterone levels tested prior to exercising and then again after performing lat pulls, bench presses, leg curls, leg extensions, leg presses, and military presses.

Immediately after exercising their testosterone levels were significantly raised, but then dropped back to baseline levels after 20 minutes had passed.

From the studies described here, it appeared that exercising may increase testosterone levels, but that increased testosterone levels dropped back to baseline levels shortly after the exercise was over.

WebMD reports that if you are a man with low testosterone, exercise may help.

There is still a lot to be learned about the connection between exercising and increased testosterone levels, and they stress that there are other factors involved as well.

Testosterone levels rise after exercise, but only for a certain amount of time.

“Sometimes it’s 15 minutes after exercise that testosterone is elevated.

Sometimes it can be up to an hour,” says Todd Schroeder, Ph.D., who studies exercise and hormones in older men at the University of Southern California.

Exercise alone won’t raise the levels of testosterone enough for men who have low levels to make a difference in how they feel, says endocrinologist Scott Isaacs, MD, of Emory University.

But for men whose testosterone level is on the borderline between normal and low, “I think it’s going to have a much more potent effect.”


Information on Contributing Factors to You Testosterone Levels

Your weight, age, and fitness level are all important factors.

Furthermore, the time you choose to workout can be a determining factor, as well.

  • Your Weight

Isaacs treats men with low testosterone and says obesity is a big part of the problem.

If you’re overweight, exercise can improve your testosterone levels by helping you shed pounds, says Isaacs, the author of Hormonal Balance: How to Lose Weight by Understanding Your Hormones and Metabolism.

  • Your Age

Older men seem to get less of a post-exercise boost in testosterone, Schroeder says–though this needs more research.

  • When You Exercise

Your testosterone levels vary throughout the day. Levels are typically highest in the morning and lowest in the afternoon.

Research has found that strength-training workouts may have a bigger effect on testosterone in the evening.

As a result, the brief boost from your exercise session might be even bigger if you schedule it after work instead of early in the morning, Isaacs says.

  • Your Fitness Levelhow to raise testosterone quickly

Going from sedentary to minimal exercise will give you a boost in testosterone.

The change is far more drastic than that of someone already in good shape.

But keep in mind that after a few weeks, your body will adapt to the challenge.

Eventually, you’ll get a lower hormone response from the same workout, Schroeder says.

Lifting weights has a bigger effect on your testosterone, Schroeder says.

He says the following strategies will give you an even bigger boost in testosterone from your strength training workouts, which is backed up by research.


Your Diet and Testosterone

Eat and drink the right way:

There are several benefits to having a carb/protein drink after working out.

It reduces catabolic hormones and increases anabolic hormones.

Drink something that has a 2:1 ratio of simple carbs to complete protein.

Your body needs cholesterol to produce testosterone.

A carnivorous diet is important; balance it out by eating plenty of vegetables, organic foods and minimizing starchy carbs.

Another great addition to your diet to that studies have shown to increase testosterone is the use of creatine.

Check out this ultimate guide on creatine for more information on the benefits of creatine.


Do Squats and Deadlifts Increase Testosterone? Final Thoughts

best weightlifting belt for crossfitIf you do a weightlifting program, with an emphasis on heavy lifting with squats and deadlifts, remember not to exercise the same set of muscles every day.

Resting once every few days gives your muscles time to heal.

Overdoing it can also have an adverse effect on your testosterone levels.

Evidence shows that squats and deadlifts do increase testosterone levels.

But of course, we all know that any and all exercise is good for you.

It makes you stronger, increases your heart rate, and can improve your mood.

So if you engage in any type of weight training or exercise in the hopes of raising your testosterone levels you can feel confident that the answer is YES to the question – do squats and deadlifts increase testosterone.

Check The Dark Iron Fitness Leather Weight Belt For Squats and Deadlifts

So, do deadlifts and squats really increase testosterone?

Check out the video below to see another perspective on the subject!