Man lifting weights in the gym while wondering if working out increases testosterone

Does Working Out Increase Testosterone?

Written on August 1, 2023 by Lori Mulligan, MPH. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

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The combination of lower fitness, muscle mass, and strength levels reduces independence and quality of life into older age. Therefore, examining the role fitness has in increasing testosterone is important. Why testosterone? Often called the male "sex hormone," testosterone can boost your mood and libido, as well as build muscle and strength.

Exercise impacts your body in many ways, and for men, exercising three to four times a week as part of a regular routine has been associated with a stable elevation in testosterone levels. The type of exercise you choose also makes a difference.

Research shows that testosterone levels rise for short periods of time after exercise — ranging from 15 minutes to one hour, depending on the man. Younger men get a bigger post-exercise boost. Testosterone levels also vary throughout the day; levels are typically higher in the morning and lower in the afternoon.

To get more testosterone, focus on weight and resistance training. Cardio is still important for weight management and heart health, but exercises like bench presses, deadlifts, and squats will have a bigger impact on your testosterone levels.[1]

Reasons for Large Variability in Testosterone Levels

The large variability of testosterone levels among men can be explained by the effect of numerous factors, including (a) the use of different types of exercise (e.g., endurance vs. resistance); (b) training intensity and/or duration of resting periods; (c) study populations (e.g., young vs. elderly; lean vs. obese; sedentary vs. athletes); and (d) the time point when serum testosterone was measured (e.g., during or immediately after vs. several minutes or hours after the exercise).

Researchers concluded that future studies should focus on clarifying the metabolic and molecular mechanisms whereby exercise may affect testosterone production in the short- and long-term, and furthermore, how this release affects downstream mechanisms; such knowledge will be the key to understanding the exercise-testosterone-muscle hypertrophy (an increase in muscular size achieved through exercise) axis.[2]

Examples of Exercises That Increase Testosterone

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT training is an excellent option for increasing testosterone in men. It is a full-body workout plan that focuses on alternating between short bursts of high-intensity exercise and even shorter rest periods.

A study comparing intensive-interval boost training and steady-state endurance exercise in men found the former elevated free testosterone more than the latter.

Other benefits of HIIT include:

  • Building muscle mass
  • Losing body fat
  • Improving oxygen consumption
  • Improving overall fitness
  • Eliminating the need to spend hours at the gym

Unfortunately, HIIT for women does not boost testosterone levels, with one study finding that the workout reduced testosterone levels in women.[3]

Resistance Training

Both men and women can use resistance training to increase their levels of testosterone. Resistance exercise primarily consists of weightlifting, which is one of the best ways for men to boost their testosterone levels.

Although women also respond well to resistance training to boost testosterone, the effect may not be as pronounced or long-lasting as males.

As such, research indicates that weight lifting and weight training can help elevate testosterone in men and women, although the increase may be more significant in males.

Strength training may also offer the following benefits[4]:

  • A change in body composition as muscle mass increases
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Improved bone density
  • Increased vitality in the elderly

Testosterone Replacement Treatment and Exercise

Researchers have illustrated that exercise training generates superior outcomes to testosterone treatment for improving aerobic fitness, muscular strength, and total and visceral fat mass in men 50–70 years old with low-normal serum testosterone concentrations. Adding testosterone treatment to exercise did not provide any additive benefit for these variables. Testosterone treatment alone and exercise alone had similar impacts on lean mass.[5]

In Closing

Although testosterone levels are demonstrated to be affected by both acute exercise and resistance training, the dynamic regulation of androgen production after physical activity is still a matter of debate. A comprehensive evaluation of the acute physical activity effect on testosterone levels identified a clear increase after exercise, irrespective of the sample collected. The main determinant of this fluctuation was the exercise intensity, with a mechanism that seems to be mostly sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) independent. In particular, moderate to intense physical activity resulted in increased endogenous androgenic production.[5]

How Everlywell Can Help

The at-home testosterone lab test can serve as a first step in helping you understand if the symptoms you are experiencing may be connected to high or low testosterone levels.

Another option is to talk with a provider about your health concerns. Have symptoms like low energy, low sex drive, or poor sleep? Book a men's health online appointment so a provider can evaluate your symptoms and offer guidance on next steps, which may include prescriptions, test recommendations, or lifestyle changes.

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  1. Bennett N. Quick Dose: Can Physical Activity Affect Testosterone? Northwestern Medicine. Updated September 2022. Accessed on July 23, 2023.
  2. Riachy R, McKinney K, and Tuvdendorj DR. Various factors may modulate the effect of exercise on testosterone levels in men. J Funct Morphol Kinesiol. 2020 Dec; 5(4): 81. Published online 2020 Nov 7. doi: 10.3390/jfmk5040081.
  3. Kong, Zhaowei, et al. Comparison of high-intensity interval training and moderate-to-vigorous continuous training for cardiometabolic health and exercise enjoyment in obese young women: A randomized controlled trial. PLOS ONE, 11(7), e0158589.
  4. Boyer, D. Does Working Out Increase Testosterone levels? Farr Institute. Published June 26, 2023.
  5. Chasland LC, Yeap BB. Testosterone and exercise: effects on fitness, body composition, and strength in middle-to-older aged men with low-normal serum testosterone levels. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 320: H1985–H1998, 2021. doi:10.1152/ajpheart.00010.2021.
  6. D'Andrea S, Spaggiari G, Barbonetti A, Santi D. Endogenous transient doping: physical exercise acutely increases testosterone levels-results from a meta-analysis. J Endocrinol Invest. 2020 Oct;43(10):1349-1371. doi:10.1007/s40618-020-01251-3.
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