Below is a guest post from my good friend Mike Westerdal. Mike is the owner of one of the world’s largest fitness sites as well as the author of the Critical Bench training system for increasing bench pressing strength and muscle mass. CLICK HERE to learn more about getting a BIG bench and massive muscles with Mike. Enjoy! – Elliott
Increase your testosterone bio-availability–naturally
Testosterone drives muscle growth. It’s no secret that a lot of guys take what they think is a “short-cut” to boosting their testosterone levels by injecting themselves with dangerous–and illegal–steroids. Years ago, I started hearing about natural ways to boost testosterone levels so I embarked on a quest to find out everything I could. The problem, is that there is a lot of misinformation and outright lies out there on the Internet. How’s a guy supposed to separate fact from fiction? How do you know that you’re not wasting time and money on yet another scam? In the beginning I struggled with these questions too until one day I began uncovering information that led me to truth. And today, I’m here to tell you that there is a better way and you can boost your testosterone levels naturally. Let’s find out more.
Testosterone is the principal male sex hormone and an anabolic steroid. It has both anabolic and androgenic properties. In men, it is primarily secreted by the testes, but also in small amounts by the adrenal glands. Testosterone is responsible for the development of lean muscle tissue, maintaining libido, energy, bone formation, and immune function. Basically, testosterone is what makes a man a man. A typical man produces five to 10 milligrams of testosterone a day–about ten times more than women. Normal testosterone concentration in men is between 300 and 1000 nanograms per deciliter. Once a guy hits about 40, his testosterone levels start to drop by about one percent per year.
Interestingly, not all of the testosterone floating around in your body are available to do what most guys want it to do–build bigger, leaner and stronger muscles. There are a number of proteins that can get in the way by binding with the testosterone before it has a chance to work its magic on our muscles. The testosterone that hasn’t bound with a protein is available to reach the muscle cell receptors. Therefore, bioavailability refers to the levels of unbound testosterone available in the bloodstream. There are several different proteins that testosterone is fond of binding with, and unfortunately, once it binds with one of these proteins, it’s game over. The testosterone is no longer available for our muscles. Of the binding proteins, the one we’re most concerned with is Sex Hormone Binding Globulin or SHBG.
We focus on SHBG for a couple of reasons. First, the levels of SHBG in our body rise and fall in our bodies, depending on certain conditions which we’ll discuss in just a minute. Second, of the various binding proteins to be found in the bloodstream, SHBG has about the highest affinity for binding with testosterone–significantly more than the others. Think of SHBG as a hooker who has her eye on a drunk guy with a fat wallet stumbling out of a bar (the testosterone). Once SHBG spots testosterone it’s going to do its very best to hook up with the testosterone.
Therefore, the higher the levels of SHBG in your bloodstream, the less testosterone you’re going to have available to reach the muscle cell receptors. Knowing this, it makes sense that by lowering the level SHBG in your body, you can increase the bioavailability of testosterone in your bloodstream. What you actually want to achieve is “normal’ levels of SHBG. Like all of our body’s systems, we want to strive for balance. When anything is either too low or too high, it’s going to lead to problems.
There are a number of things that we can manipulate or control that raise or lower the levels of SHBG in the bloodstream. Chief among these are drug or alcohol abuse, anorexia, excessive stress, obesity and anything else that causes your testosterone levels to drop. First off, lower testosterone levels means lower bioavailability of testosterone--regardless of your SHBG level, when these levels drop, there is less testosterone available to reach the muscle cell receptors. The second part of this is that these things impact the aromatase factor in the body. The aromatase process not only increases estrogen levels, which signals the brain to decrease testosterone levels, but it also increase SHBG levels in the body. Essentially, what you get is a “one-two” punch that starts a vicious cycle of decreasing bioavailable testosterone, coupled with increasing estrogen levels–ouch!
Now let’s see what a guy has to do to increase the bioavailability of testosterone in his body. First, maintain a healthy weight. Get rid of excess body fat, especially the fat around the middle. This type of fat has particularly high levels of the enzyme aromatase, which leads to higher estrogen and SHBG levels. Second, don’t abuse drugs or alcohol. Third, learn to manage your stress levels.
Fourth, get plenty of exercise and make sure you include strength training work. Strength training in particular helps to naturally elevate your testosterone levels. Fifth, get plenty of rest and don’t overtrain. Most of the great things our bodies do happen while we’re at rest or sleeping. Guys who overtrain or don’t get enough sleep have significantly lower levels of testosterone than guys who recognize the value of rest and give it the attention it deserves. And lastly, eat a healthy diet that includes the proper balance of lean proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Ignore the fad diets and any diet that goes to any sort of extreme.
There are also some things you can to help block the testosterone-binding effects of SHBG. There is some evidence to suggest that supplements such as Nettle, Pygeum and Avena Sativa can be effective. Supplements that may help inhibit aromatase in the body include Zinc and Chrysin.
About Mike Westerdal
Mike Westerdal is a personal trainer and amatuer powerlifter residing in sunny Clearwater, FL. Mike is a contributer to REPS! Magazine and Powerlifting USA. Hi is also the founder of CriticalBench.com and author of the Critical Bench 2.0 program one of the Internet’s fist muscle building sites.