What Is Testosterone: An Overrated Muscle Building Factor?
Testosterone is a hormone that has male-making (androgenic) and muscle-building (anabolic) effects. Testosterone is, therefore, an essential muscle-building factor.
However, as long as your testosterone levels are within the normal range, testosterone levels will make no difference to muscle building.
Testosterone also plays a crucial role in the female body.
“What is testosterone?”
Ask that to the next person you meet.
You might hear something like this:
- “The more testosterone, the more muscle you build.”
- “Man needs testosterone. A woman needs estrogen.”
- “Testosterone makes you lean and defined.”
Surprise: Only one statement is correct. The rest is humbug.
In this article, you will learn four scientific facts about testosterone that few people know:
- Once and for all settled: what is testosterone?
- A higher testosterone level usually does not accelerate muscle growth.
- Fat loss and how testosterone affects it.
- Testosterone is not only for men but also for women.
If you invest 3-5 minutes reading this article, you know more about the sex hormone than 99% of your fellow human beings.
What is testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone, a biochemical messenger in your body.
Men produce it in the testicles, women in the ovaries.
Both sexes also manufacture a small proportion of the adrenal gland.
Some people mistake testosterone for schizophrenia – it has two distinct properties:
- It makes a man a man (androgenic properties): Testosterone signals the male body: “Form the primary and secondary sex characteristics.” So penis and testicles, but also hair growth and a deep voice.
- It ensures strong muscles and bones (anabolic properties): Testosterone is one of the three most important muscle-building hormones and plays an important role in forming strong bones. Usually, your brain regulates how much testosterone is produced and released. Most of the testosterone circulates in the bloodstream. So that it can be on the spot quickly, you need a set of wheels. A special protein performs this task.
The “car” for testosterone is called sex hormone-binding globulin (SHGB). Testosterone bound to SHGB is also called bound testosterone.
However, bound testosterone does not play an active role in your body.
Only unbound, as free testosterone, can it penetrate cells and unfold its effect there.
Key Facts: What is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone produced in the testicles in men and the ovaries in women. It has androgenic (“male-making”) properties and, as one of the most important anabolic messengers, is an essential muscle-building factor.
How does your testosterone level affect muscle building?
Testosterone is one of the main hormonal players in muscle building.
Studies in young, healthy men show that anabolic steroids, which drastically increase testosterone levels, also grow muscle without training.
Does this mean that higher testosterone levels automatically lead to more muscle?
Warning, now it’s getting interesting.
We know that you’ll build more muscle when you dramatically increase your testosterone.
Taking a certain cocktail of steroids AND training can build more muscle than Mother Nature intended.
You can marvel at the results of these drugs in hardcore bodybuilding magazines, among other places. This is nothing new so far.
- this isn’t about hardcore bodybuilding,
- do you risk your health (body destroying instead of bodybuilding) and
- Stayers don’t take steroids.
Instead of unnaturally high testosterone levels, we are interested in how fluctuations in natural testosterone affect muscle growth.
And that is exactly what very few people know:
As long as your testosterone levels are within the normal range, a fluctuation will not affect muscle growth.
You may feel better and more interested in sex when you raise your testosterone levels from the mid to high normal range. But it doesn’t affect how well you build muscle.
I know that goes against conventional wisdom. But science speaks a different language.
Two interesting studies:
- Study: Natural Testosterone Levels and Muscle Gain: A 20-week study conducted on young men examined whether young men with high-normal testosterone levels built muscle faster than men with testosterone levels in the low-normal range.
Result: Although the participants with high testosterone levels built a little more muscle, the difference was negligible.
- Study: Hormone release after training and muscle building: In a US study by McMaster University, the subjects followed a classic muscle-building program for 12 weeks: They trained 5 times a week and followed the principles of muscle-building nutrition. The researchers wanted to know: do participants who released more anabolic hormones post-workout build muscle faster than subjects who released fewer hormones?
Result: They could not observe any connection between growth hormone release and muscle growth as long as the values remained within the normal range.
Recently a reader asked if testosterone boosters accelerate muscle growth.
Some supplements can help, but testosterone boosters are not one of them.
The ingredients of most “Testo-Booster” are scientifically ineffective. The few proven to work can only raise your testosterone to a level that is still natural for your body.
If you don’t have a testosterone deficiency and want to build muscle, you can save money on these supplements.
A “testosterone booster” will not help you build muscle if your testosterone levels are in the natural range.
The only exception would be people with a proven testosterone deficiency.
In this case, a quality supplement could help normalize testosterone levels.
Then are there any reasons to increase testosterone levels naturally?
Not quite. At least not if you want to lose body fat.
Key Facts – Testosterone Levels and Muscle Building
As long as your testosterone levels are within the normal range, a fluctuation will not affect muscle growth. “Testosterone boosters” are therefore not an effective means of accelerating muscle growth.
How Does Your Testosterone Level Affect Fat Loss?
Unlike muscle-building, testosterone fluctuations in the normal range do affect fat loss:
The more testosterone, the less body fat.
The scientists in the aforementioned first study observed an inverse relationship between testosterone levels and subjects’ body fat percentage:
- The higher the testosterone levels of the study participants, the lower their body fat percentage.
- The lower the testosterone level of the study participants, the higher the body fat percentage.
Researchers picked subjects with moderate hormone levels and then gave them drugs that caused testosterone levels to dip into the low normal range.
With a dramatic effect: body fat mass increased by an average of 36%.
Although the exact relationships are unknown, studies suggest that testosterone directly affects fat storage and that low testosterone levels promote obesity.
Increasing your testosterone levels naturally will help you get and stay lean.
Key Facts – Testosterone Levels and Fat Loss
A low testosterone level probably favors fat storage even if the value is still in the lower normal range.
The higher your testosterone level, the easier it is for you to lose fat.
Why do women need testosterone too?
Men make testosterone. Women make estrogen. Right?
Nope, It would be nice if you could fit the complex “body” system into simple black and white patterns.
It’s a common misconception that testosterone is for muscular men and women. At least not for those who want to preserve their femininity.
The truth is, testosterone is VITAL to the female body.
Testosterone also plays a major role in women and is responsible for some extremely important metabolic processes in women:
- No sex drive without testosterone: As in men, testosterone influences sex drive in women. The pill may have negative effects on women’s sex drive: A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine concludes that the pill increases levels of the sex hormone-binding protein. This would bind more testosterone, and the level of free testosterone decreases. Less free testosterone means less sexual desire – male or female.
- No Testosterone, No Estrogen: Few know that estrogen is made from testosterone. And estrogen is not only important for the female metabolism but also for the male.
- You can’t build muscle without testosterone: Women can only get stronger if they have enough free testosterone in their blood.
- No strong bones without testosterone: Birth control pills can have another unwanted side effect and decrease bone density in women.
Women indeed make SIGNIFICANTLY less testosterone than men – the amount is about 1/10th. But the female body is much more sensitive to the sex hormone.
Women need less testosterone than men to be healthy and fit.
However, testosterone is just as vital for women as it is for men. It fulfills the same roles in the female metabolism as in the male.
Key Facts – Testosterone in women
Testosterone is also vital for the female body: without enough testosterone, neither women nor men have any desire to have sex. Estrogen is made from testosterone. Women need testosterone to build strong muscles and bones.
Women need less testosterone than men to be healthy and fit. Yet it fulfills the same vital roles in female metabolism as in males.
Testosterone Part 1 – Conclusion
What is testosterone? The messenger makes men masculine, and women also need and produce the sex hormone.
However, if your testosterone levels are within the normal range, a fluctuation will not affect muscle growth.
“Testosterone boosters” are therefore not an effective way to accelerate muscle growth.
Fat loss is different: A low testosterone level probably favors fat storage even if the value is still in the lower normal range.
The higher your testosterone level, the lower your body fat percentage.
Women need less testosterone than men to be healthy and fit.
Yet it fulfills the same vital roles in female metabolism as in males.
This was part 1 of the series of articles on testosterone.
In part 5, you will read my personal testosterone story.
In the coming articles, you will learn how to recognize a testosterone deficiency clearly and what you can do to increase your testosterone levels naturally.
One of the best testosterone boosters is Testogen. I am familiar with this natural supplement and I am recommending it to most of my gym clients who want to build muscles faster and simultaniously lose fat or if they reached a certain age. Testogen is helping them to boost testosterone levels back. For women, I am suggesting using only half of the male dosage per day.
Testosterone Article Series: All About the Testosterone
Article 1: What Is Testosterone: An Overrated Muscle Building Factor? (this article)
Article 2: Muscle Building And Hormones
Article 3: How to Recognize Low Testosterone (Even If You’re Not a Doctor)