Testosterone is a male reproductive hormone that is also produced in smaller amounts by women. Testosterone determines male sexual characteristics and plays a role in some of the female signs of puberty, such as hair growth in the genitals and underarm area. Testosterone also helps prevent osteoporosis in women. Low testosterone can cause fatigue, problems sleeping, decreased muscle mass and decreased libido in both men and women. Exercise has effects on testosterone 5.
Testosterone levels normally drop as people age. A low testosterone level in men is a level of less than 250 nanograms/deciliter, according to St. John Providence Health Center 12. Low testosterone in young men is usually the result of a genetic condition, radiation or chemotherapy, trauma to the testicles or tumors of the pituitary gland 2. Some medications, such as narcotic pain medications, cortisone and steroids, can also cause low testosterone. There is no generally accepted low level for women, according to Dr. Michael Werner, an urologist who specializes in male infertility and male sexual dysfunction 2.
Testosterone and Weight Lifting
Carbohydrates & Testosterone
In a study published in the June 2011 “Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness,” researchers analyzed the effect of resistance training on 10 men who trained for recreational purposes 4. The study participants completed two resistance training protocols of different intensity seven days apart. Testosterone increased for both protocols. An older study published in the December 1993 “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” found that both moderate and light intensity weight lifting caused a similar increase in serum testosterone levels 5.
Testosterone and Over-Training
A study reported in the April 2003 “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” found testosterone did not change at differing levels of resistance exercise 56. Although Dr. Mark Jenkins of Rice University notes that over-training can cause decreased testosterone levels, the available research seems to indicate otherwise. Over-training is an imbalance between training or competition and recovery. Short-term over-training is called over-reaching. Among the normal physiological responses to over-reaching are an increased testosterone to cortisol ratio, increased resting heart rate and increased creatine kinase levels – a sign that microscopic muscle damage has occurred.
- A study reported in the April 2003 “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” found testosterone did not change at differing levels of resistance exercise 5.
- Among the normal physiological responses to over-reaching are an increased testosterone to cortisol ratio, increased resting heart rate and increased creatine kinase levels – a sign that microscopic muscle damage has occurred.
Normal Range of Testosterone for a Woman
The research on bodybuilding and testosterone is limited to relatively small studies, but the available data indicate that bodybuilding increases testosterone slightly, at least in the short term. No long-term studies of excessive body-building and its effects on testosterone are available. If you have a low testosterone level and are concerned that bodybuilding may have caused or influenced changes in your testosterone, consult a health-care professional 2.**
- The research on bodybuilding and testosterone is limited to relatively small studies, but the available data indicate that bodybuilding increases testosterone slightly, at least in the short term.
- No long-term studies of excessive body-building and its effects on testosterone are available.
Carbohydrates & Testosterone
Normal Range of Testosterone for a Woman
Can You Take ZMA With Creatine?
What Are the Benefits of Increasing Testosterone?
What Does it Mean If I Have a Testosterone Level of Below 200?
How Does Creatine Affect the Kidneys?
Does a High-Protein Diet Increase Testosterone?
Creatine Vs. Nitro Tech
How Much Protein Do You Need When Lifting Weights?
DHEA Harmful Effects
- St. John Providence Health Center: Male Menopause
- Michael A. Werner, M.D.: Low Testosterone
- Healthy Women: Androgen
- Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness: Acute Effect of Resistance Training Volume on Hormonal Responses in Trained Men
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Acute Effects of Different Intensities of Weight Lifting on Serum Testosterone
- Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise: Hormonal Responses After Various Resistance Exercise Protocols
- Curtin University: Overtraining
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- Cai Z, Xi H, Pan Y, et al. Effect of testosterone deficiency on cholesterol metabolism in pigs fed a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet. Lipids Health Dis. 2015;14:18. Published 2015 Mar 7. doi:10.1186/s12944-015-0014-5
- Ferrucci L, Maggio M, Bandinelli S, et al. Low testosterone levels and the risk of anemia in older men and women. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(13):1380–1388. doi:10.1001/archinte.166.13.1380
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- Kanakis GA, Nieschlag E. Klinefelter syndrome: more than hypogonadism. Metab Clin Exp. 2018;86:135-144.
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- Snyder PJ, Kopperdahl DL, Stephens-Shields AJ, et al. Effect of Testosterone Treatment on Volumetric Bone Density and Strength in Older Men With Low Testosterone: A Controlled Clinical Trial [published correction appears in JAMA Intern Med. 2017 Apr 1;177(4):600] [published correction appears in JAMA Intern Med. 2019 Mar 1;179(3):457]. JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(4):471–479. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.9539
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- Tremellen K, McPhee N, Pearce K, Benson S, Schedlowski M, Engler H. Endotoxin-initiated inflammation reduces testosterone production in men of reproductive age. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2018 Mar 1;314(3):E206-E213. doi:10.1152/ajpendo.00279.2017. Epub 2017 Nov 28.
Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.