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The Relationship Between TRT And Exercise

Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), also known as androgen replacement therapy, is a treatment for low testosterone levels. This hormone is produced by the testicles in those assigned males at birth (AMAB) and the ovaries in those assigned females at birth (AFAB). It aids the development of male characteristics and is more prominent in people AMAB, who will be the focus of this article.

Regarding muscle growth, testosterone has two main functions – stimulating the creation of protein and helping to prevent the breakdown of proteins. Low levels can, among other effects, inhibit efforts to develop muscle. Testosterone levels may lower as you age or due to a medical condition.

This guide will explore the connection between exercise and testosterone levels, as well as how to determine whether testosterone injections for muscle building are suitable for you. We will also review how exercise impacts testosterone levels, signs that you might need TRT, and explore the pros and cons of how TRT affects the body.

Testosterone formula
Source: PubChem https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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Understanding Testosterone and Exercise

Many have heard that TRT treatments for low testosterone enhance exercise results, but can physical activity work to increase testosterone?

Does Working Out Increase Testosterone?

The answer is it can, but it’s essential to understand how this works fully.

While testosterone levels may rise for approximately 15-60 minutes after types of exercise, there are numerous factors impacting the duration and degree of this benefit, including:

weights, jumping rope, water bottle on a mat
  • Fitness Level – People who regularly exercise may not experience as much of a testosterone boost from exercise as someone who infrequently engages in physical activities.
  • Age – Though more research is needed, older people (AMAB) may receive a less significant testosterone boost after working out.
  • Workout Times – Testosterone levels fluctuate daily and are typically higher in the morning than in the afternoon. Specific exercises can result in greater testosterone in the afternoon rather than in the morning.
  • Weight – Obesity can significantly lower testosterone levels, while losing weight can help restore testosterone levels. A 2016 study indicates that exercise can help increase levels better than restricting calories alone.

The types of exercise you do also impact your post-workout testosterone levels.

Does Lifting Weights Increase Testosterone?

You may have heard claims that testosterone boosts improve their strength training performance, but does weight lifting increase testosterone levels? This type of exercise is the most beneficial for a post-workout testosterone boost, but there are a few tips to keep in mind during workouts to maximize testosterone increases:

  • Target large muscle groups vs. isolating individual muscles
  • Fewer reps at a higher weight will result in more significant gains than many reps of lighter weights
  • Take shorter rest periods during workouts

Increase your gains by anchoring your workout routine around whole-body wellness, not just boosting testosterone.

Supplements and TRT

Are testosterone-boosting supplements or TRT the right choice for you? Is it a good idea to take both simultaneously?

Testosterone Boosters Vs. TRT

TRT is a prescription to increase testosterone levels and advance low levels to a normal range. Testosterone boosters, also called testosterone enhancers, are over-the-counter supplements intended to increase the body’s natural production of testosterone.

shirtless man with a six pack, pouring pills from bottle in front of him, testosterone boosters

The Best Testosterone Booster for Muscle Gain

Despite the booming T-booster industry, research does not support the efficacy of these treatments. Less than 25% of boosters from a 2020 study1 had any data to support their claims, and over 10% of the studied boosters contained ingredients linked to adverse effects on testosterone levels.

It’s also important to note that, unlike TRT, testosterone boosters are not regulated by the FDA, meaning products are not subject to testing to ensure the labels are accurate or the ingredients are safe. Supplement blends frequently contain vitamin blends far exceeding recommended doses. These can lead to vitamin overload, which can cause side effects that negatively affect your health or interfere with other medications you may be taking.

Despite the research, some people point to T-boosters as a good option for a gradual increase in testosterone levels. It is important to note that boosters are more effective when accompanied by beneficial lifestyle changes that support testosterone production, like exercise and a healthy diet.

While research for T-boosters like Tribulus Terrestris, D-Aspartic Acid, and Ashwagandha may indicate increased testosterone production, most effects are related to fertility and sexual performance, not muscle-building.

doctor showing charts to a patient

Can You Take a Testosterone Booster While on TRT?

Always follow your doctor’s guidance regarding your treatment plan if you take TRT supplements to increase testosterone levels. Your doctor may suggest a supplement to help support TRT treatments or whole-body wellness.

Do not take any testosterone booster while on TRT without consulting your doctor, as these supplements are not regulated and may have harmful side effects or inhibit your progress.

Testosterone Injections and Muscle Building

Research supports testosterone for muscle growth as an effective treatment. Studies show that TRT can decrease fat mass, increase muscle growth, and help increase grip strength in older AMAB people experiencing age-related declines in testosterone levels. Testosterone aids in accomplishing this by helping to stimulate insulin-like growth factor-1 expression (IGF-1).

Another study indicated that TRT can help obese individuals with low testosterone levels meet their weight-loss goals when paired with a healthy diet and exercise. Participants on TRT lost almost exclusively body fat, whereas placebo participants lost both body fat and lean muscle mass.

Testosterone can also improve mental health due to its physical benefits. Low testosterone is linked to symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, low libido, and dysphoria, contributing to depression. Returning testosterone levels to a normal range can help address these issues, leading to better mental health and quality of life.

Research also indicates that higher ratios of testosterone can help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and increase verbal memory, cognitive processing speed, and improve spatial memory.

man experiencing fatigue

Testosterone Dosage for Muscle Growth

You may have many questions about testosterone dosage. Is 200 mg, 1 ml, or 2 ml of testosterone a week enough to build muscle? And when does testosterone peak after an injection? The proper dosage of TRT for muscle building can vary based on several factors.

Your doctor should conduct a health screening, including testing, to determine your current testosterone levels before beginning treatment. Typically, someone taking lower doses of testosterone will see results slower than someone on a higher dosage.

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In a study published in 2005, participants were given 200mg of testosterone biweekly over 36 months. The study’s results indicated that the most significant increases in muscle growth occur within the first 12 months, with gains becoming noticeable after three months of treatment.

Researchers are also looking into the benefits of micro-dosing testosterone, which typically involves much lower, more frequent dosing. Early results indicate that the benefits lend to more consistent testosterone levels. While case studies show promise, additional research is necessary before drawing long-term conclusions.

A 2011 study found that higher testosterone levels in older AMAB individuals reduced lean muscle mass loss. However, building muscle is not the only determining factor in how much testosterone you should take. While TRT may aid you in reaching your goals, overall health and wellness are most important.

The usual range of testosterone for AMAB people is 270-1070 ng/dL. The average level is 679 ng/dL, though some researchers believe the healthiest people have a 400-600 ng/dL range.

Can you get TRT with normal testosterone? The answer to this can vary case-by-case depending on your health history and fitness goals.

TRT should only be taken with the guidance of a licensed and trained healthcare professional. It’s also important to note that TRT for muscle growth is most effective when paired with a healthy lifestyle. You are more likely to achieve the gains you seek from TRT when combined with a nutritious diet and exercise than relying solely on testosterone treatment.

Risks and Considerations of Testosterone Injections for Muscle Building

Under the guidance of a healthcare professional, testosterone replacement therapy is a relatively safe treatment.

However, there are some side effects that you should be aware of, such as:

  • Lower sperm count, which can lead to infertility
  • Larger breasts
  • Increased risk of blood clots
  • Acne or oily skin
  • Testicle shrinkage
  • Mood swings
  • Joint and back pain
  • Development of or worsening sleep apnea
  • Pain, hardness, or redness at the injection site

Serious side effects requiring immediate attention include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or pain in the upper right part of the stomach
  • Swelling, pain, warmth, or redness in extremities, especially the lower legs
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Significant changes in urination, including difficulty urinating, more frequent urination, sudden and urgent need to urinate, or finding blood in the urine
  • Yellowing of skin or eyes
  • Significant mood changes, such as depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation

Most of these symptoms are mild and typically subside as treatments continue. However, for the serious side effects you should seek medical care immediately.

There is also evidence that TRT can cause an increase in risk-taking behavior, such as substance abuse or activities likely to result in injury.

In the past, there has been concern surrounding an increased risk of heart attack or stroke resulting from TRT.  A recent study by the Cleveland Clinic did not find any evidence of this increased risk.  However, they still urge caution when seeking TRT, emphasizing the importance of receiving a full health screening and guidance of an experienced doctor when receiving treatments.

Understanding Testosterone Levels and TRT Eligibility

Keep reading to learn whether you meet the criteria to receive TRT.

How Low Does Your Testosterone Have to Be to Get TRT?

To determine if TRT might be the proper treatment for you, you should first consider whether you demonstrate any symptoms of low testosterone, which include:

  • Fatigue and low energy
  • Depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and feeling low
  • Loss of body and facial hair
  • Low libido, low sperm count, and erectile dysfunction
  • Decrease in lean muscle mass

Not everyone experiences noticeable symptoms of low TRT. Also, additional health conditions may be at play, causing these same symptoms, making it challenging to determine the correct testosterone levels for TRT.

man and woman in bed, the man is embarassed and the woman is angry

If you are interested in TRT, your doctor will conduct a health evaluation, including a blood test. Your doctor may request multiple blood tests taken at different times of the day because testosterone levels fluctuate throughout the day.

Can You Get TRT with Normal Testosterone Levels?

If your testosterone range falls within a normal range, but you would still like TRT to meet fitness goals, you should discuss this with your doctor. There may be other health issues causing issues that are unrelated to low testosterone.

In these cases, TRT may not lead to an improvement. Also, whatever short gains you can achieve on TRT may not be worth the potential long-term impacts on your natural testosterone production.

Will My Natural Testosterone Come Back After TRT?

Whether or not your natural testosterone production resumes after the conclusion of TRT therapy depends on several factors.

older man exercising

When low testosterone levels are due to a temporary health issue, treatment can typically resume after successfully managing that condition. If your T-levels have declined naturally due to aging, you will likely need TRT indefinitely.

The longer you are on TRT, the longer it will take for your natural testosterone production to resume. Your body generally stops producing testosterone during treatment, making it difficult to stop treatment. Stopping treatment can be an uncomfortable process and should only be done under the guidance of an experienced doctor. TRT can cause infertility during treatment, which may become permanent under certain circumstances.

Conclusion

Staying fit is vital in maintaining testosterone levels, and vice versa. If your testosterone levels are low, exploring lifestyle changes or other medical conditions influencing testosterone levels before pursuing TRT is essential. It is important to remember that fitness goals are only part of the many factors that should be considered before starting TRT, as it can cause serious health issues if not administered correctly.

When considering TRT, the best thing you can do is have open and honest communication with a doctor regarding your symptoms, health history, and desired athletic performance. They may identify other issues affecting your ability to reach your fitness goals, helping you avoid unnecessary TRT treatments. If a doctor does prescribe TRT, you can feel confident that you are receiving professional, customized treatments focused on helping you feel healthy and secure.

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