Some of these signs and symptoms can be caused by various underlying factors, including medication side effects, obstructive sleep apnea, thyroid problems, diabetes and depression. It's also possible that these conditions may be the cause of low testosterone levels, and treatment of these problems may cause testosterone levels to rise. A blood test is the only way to diagnose a low testosterone level.
While training intensity can be accomplished trough a targeted training program and an ability to adequately stimulate our muscles is something the motivated and determined bodybuilder often has no problem doing, muscle recovery is another issue. It is especially important at a time of the year when social demands and incorrect eating combine to stifle our progress.
In males, testosterone is required for the development of male sex organs such as increased penis and testes size. The hormone also promotes the development of sexual male characteristics during puberty such as voice deepening and the growth of armpit, chest and pubic hair. Testosterone plays an important role in maintaining sex drive, sperm production, muscle strength and bone mass. A healthy level of testosterone is also protective against bone disorders such as osteoporosis.
We’ll define the “bigger muscle groups” as being chest, back, quads and hamstrings, and the “smaller muscle groups” as being biceps, triceps and maybe abs. Shoulders are really somewhere in the middle, though I tend to lean more toward the “smaller” guidelines. Calves, while technically small, are another muscle group that is somewhere in the middle, and I can really go either way depending on the needs of the person.
In males, the majority of testosterone is secreted from the testes, hence the term “testosterone”. The hormone is also produced in small amounts by the adrenal gland. The production of this hormone is controlled by the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain. The pituitary gland receives instructions from the hypothalamus on how much testosterone needs producing and passes this information onto the testicles via chemicals and hormones circulating in the bloodstream.
In isolated striatal cells (expressing creatine kinase), seven day incubation of 5mM creatine (maximal effective dose) appears to increase the density of GABAergic neurons and DARPP-32 (biomarker for spiny neurons) with only a minor overall trend for all cells and showed increased GABA uptake into these cells, as well as providing protection against oxygen and glucose deprivation.
For example, a 2015 review published in the peer-reviewed journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism suggests that, for maximal muscle growth, people consume 25 to 35 grams of protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner. You'll find that amount of protein in a chicken breast, a cup of Greek yogurt with slivered almonds or about a three-quarter block of tofu.
Unfortunately, there are a number of ways we jeopardize the health of this important muscle group. For starters, our increasingly sedentary lifestyles are leading to what experts call “gluteal amnesia,” in which the butt muscles become overstretched and underused (read: weak). On the flip side, it’s also possible to overuse and overexert these muscles—whether we’re excessively clenching the tush in certain asanas, such as Warrior II or Wheel Pose, or pushing too hard while running or hiking. Not only do under- or overworked glutes affect range of motion in the hips and sacrum, but strength imbalances can also lead to instability or pain when we’re on our mats.
In the following article I will outline the supplements that have helped me to add a massive 10 kilograms (22lbs) of solid muscle to my physique over the past year—taking my body weight from 80 kilograms (176lbs) to 90 kilograms (198lbs)—and explain how these have helped me to improve my performance and enhance my size as a natural bodybuilder, aged 35.
In regard to practical interventions, concurrent glycogen loading has been noted to increase creatine stores by 37-46% regardless of whether the tissue was exercised prior to loading phase. It is important to note, however, that creatine levels in response to the creatine loading protocol were compared in one glycogen-depleted leg to the contralateral control leg, which was not exercised. This does not rule out a possible systemic exercise-driven increase in creatine uptake, and the increase in creatine noted above was larger than typically seen with a loading protocol (usually in the 20-25% range). Consistent with an exercise-effect, others have reported that exercise itself increases creatine uptake into muscle, reporting 68% greater creatine uptake in an exercised limb, relative to 14% without exercise.
Contrast loading is the alternation of heavy and light loads. Considered as sets, the heavy load is performed at about 85-95% 1 repetition max; the light load should be considerably lighter at about 30-60% 1RM. Both sets should be performed fast with the lighter set being performed as fast as possible. The joints should not be locked as this inhibits muscle fibre recruitment and reduces the speed at which the exercise can be performed. The lighter set may be a loaded plyometric exercise such as loaded squat jumps or jumps with a trap bar.
There are a number of risk factors for depression including genetics, conflict, life events, death or loss, and other psychological problems. However, studies have added low testosterone as a major risk factor for depression, particularly in men. In fact, several studies have revealed that low testosterone is a common cause of depression in persons who do not respond to traditional medications. A robust amount of testosterone in the body promotes good mood, confidence, and a strong libido in a man.
Studies that use a dosage range typical of creatine supplementation (in the range of 5g a day following an acute loading period) note increases to total body water of 6.2% (3.74lbs) over 9 weeks and 1.1kg over 42 days. Interestingly, some studies comparing creatine paired with training against training itself fail to find a significant difference in percentage of water gained (which is inherently to activity) with standard oral doses of creatine (although low dose creatine supplementation of 0.03g/kg or 2.3g daily doesn’t appear to increase water retention) despite more overall water weight being gained, due to an equal gain of dry mass in muscles. One study has quantified the percentage increase in mass of muscle cells to be 55% water, suggesting the two groups are fairly equal.
Myotonic Dystrophy type I (DM1) is an inhereted muscular disorder caused by an expanded CTG repeat in the DMPK gene on chromosome 19q13.3 (genetic cause of the disorder) resulting in muscular degeneration and myotonia. The related myopathy, Myotonic Dystrophy type II (DM2) which is also known as proximal myotonic myopathy (PROMM) is due to a CCTG repeat on 3q, and is less affected by myotonia and more by muscular pain and weakness. There is no cure for either because they are genetic disorders, so current therapies are aimed at reducing side-effects. Therapies include modafinil for the somnolence and perhaps creatine for the reduction in strength and functionality.
“Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow. Be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” Bruce Lee
McArdle’s disease is a myopathic disorder associated with fatigue and contractile dysfunction as a result of alterations in the release of glucose from glycogen (via defects in myophosphorylase enzyme function) resulting in an inability to conduct high intensity work as easily. Creatine is thought to be therapeutic because beyond the general strength enhancing properties of creatine, people with McArdle’s disease have an upregulation of phosphofructokinase (PFK) enzyme activity  and increasing phosphocreatine storages suppresses the activity of this enzyme.
You have to fuel your body with high-quality, real, wholesome food. Eating pizza, burgers, ice cream, and fast food just because it’s high in calories is a really bad plan. You’ll feel terrible, and while the extra calories will help muscle gains to an extent, most of them will turn to fat. It’s not worth it. Your recovery will be slower and you will be riddled with inflammation.
If you want to take creatine as a supplement for bigger and stronger muscles, then the standard protocol is to have a “loading period” where you significantly increase your creatine intake for a few days or weeks. “This can prime your muscles to increase the amount of creatine that they ‘hold,’” explains Bates. “During the loading period, you generally take 5 g of creatine four times per day. After the loading period, you decrease the amount of creatine you take to a ‘maintenance’ level of 3 to 5 g per day.” (That’s also the recommendation from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.) (5)
If you’re a beginner, you should train with three full-body workouts per week. In each one, do a compound pushing movement (like a bench press), a compound pulling movement (like a chinup), and a compound lower-body exercise (squat, trap-bar deadlift, for example). If you want to add in 1–2 other exercises like loaded carries or kettlebell swings as a finisher, that’s fine, but three exercises is enough to work the whole body.
While the number of reps you do per set is important, of equal importance is the total number of reps you do per muscle group. The National Strength and Conditioning Association has determined that, to maximize growth, you need approximately 20–70 total reps per muscle group. Depending on which end of a rep range you’re working, this can be done in one session or over a few days (a training week, for instance), but that’s the spread you need to cover to see gains.
It doesn’t get more natural than getting a good night’s sleep. Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that lack of sleep can greatly reduce a healthy young man’s testosterone levels. That effect is clear after only one week of reduced sleep. Testosterone levels were particularly low between 2 and 10 p.m. on sleep-restricted days. Study participants also reported a decreased sense of wellbeing as their blood testosterone levels dropped.
Creatine is marketed as "nature's muscle builder" and "the most legitimate sports supplement around." Professional and amateur athletes alike are gobbling up this alleged ergogenic aid, hoping to increase their strength and performance. Creatine supplementation is claimed to increase muscle power by playing a role in the transfer of energy to help the muscle contract. Supplement labels state that "creatine is converted to phosphocreatine, which is important for short energy bursts such as sprinting and weight lifting" and that "depletion of phosphocreatine can result in muscle fatigue and fading muscle power." Claims are also made that supplementation increases muscle body mass.
In a mouse model of allergin-induced asthma, where mice were sensitized by ovalbumin for three weeks and then given 500mg/kg creatine, supplementation induced an increase in asthmatic hyperresponsiveness to low but not high doses of methacholine. This hyperresponsiveness was associated with increased eosinophil and neutrophil infiltration into the lungs, and an increase in Th2 cell cytokines (IL-4 and IL-5) alongside an increase in IGF-1, which is known to influence this process. Interestingly, there was a nonsignificant increase in responsiveness in mice not sensitized to ovalbumin.
Fatherhood decreases testosterone levels in men, suggesting that the emotions and behavior tied to decreased testosterone promote paternal care. In humans and other species that utilize allomaternal care, paternal investment in offspring is beneficial to said offspring's survival because it allows the parental dyad to raise multiple children simultaneously. This increases the reproductive fitness of the parents, because their offspring are more likely to survive and reproduce. Paternal care increases offspring survival due to increased access to higher quality food and reduced physical and immunological threats. This is particularly beneficial for humans since offspring are dependent on parents for extended periods of time and mothers have relatively short inter-birth intervals. While extent of paternal care varies between cultures, higher investment in direct child care has been seen to be correlated with lower average testosterone levels as well as temporary fluctuations. For instance, fluctuation in testosterone levels when a child is in distress has been found to be indicative of fathering styles. If a father's testosterone levels decrease in response to hearing their baby cry, it is an indication of empathizing with the baby. This is associated with increased nurturing behavior and better outcomes for the infant.
One study investigating the effects of creatine supplementation on people with osteoarthritis undergoing knee arthroplasty (surgical procedure for osteoarthritis), who received creatine at 10g daily for 10 days prior to surgery and 5g daily for a month afterward, failed to find benefit with supplementation. This study failed to find any differences in muscular creatine stores or weight changes.
The creatine kinase (CK) enzyme in rat heart tissue appears to have a KM around 6mM of creatine as substrate. and is known to positively influence mitochondrial function as higher cytoplasmic phosphocreatine concentrations (not so much creatine per se) increase the oxidative efficiency of mitochondria This is thought to be due to the transfer of high energy phosphate groups.
In humans, studies that investigate links between serotonin and creatine supplementation find that 21 trained males, given creatine via 22.8g creatine monohydrate (20g creatine equivalent) with 35g glucose, relative to a placebo of 160g glucose, was found to reduce the perception of fatigue in hot endurance training, possibly secondary to serotonergic modulation, specifically attentuating the increase of serotonin seen with exercise (normally seen to hinder exercise capacity in the heat) while possibly increasing dopaminergic activity (conversely seen to benefit activity in the heat).
Before supplementation, our intramuscular pools of creatine and phosphocreatine are usually at about 70% of their full capacities. The levels of these pools can be raised by increasing dietary creatine. As vegans and vegetarians omit many creatine-rich foods, they tend to have lower creatine pools than omnivores and hence tend to benefit more from creatine supplementation. At the other end of the spectrum, creatine ingestion doesn’t increase creatine stores in a small proportion of people. It follows that these individuals don’t seem to experience the benefits of creatine supplementation.
Research shows little evidence of abnormal or unhealthy psychological changes in men receiving supervised testosterone therapy to treat their low T, according to a study in the journal Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management.However, mental and physical risks are involved in self-administration of artificial testosterone. Anyone abusing synthetic testosterone, also known as anabolic steroids, may experience episodes of aggressive or violent behavior, along with physical side effects. Bodybuilders, athletes, or anyone who seeks to build muscle mass or achieve other benefits from artificial testosterone should be aware of these risks.
Androgens may modulate the physiology of vaginal tissue and contribute to female genital sexual arousal. Women's level of testosterone is higher when measured pre-intercourse vs pre-cuddling, as well as post-intercourse vs post-cuddling. There is a time lag effect when testosterone is administered, on genital arousal in women. In addition, a continuous increase in vaginal sexual arousal may result in higher genital sensations and sexual appetitive behaviors.
In fact, you could probably ride across Kansas (the pancake flat part anyway) while your butt muscles mostly snooze, explains kinesiologist Stuart McGill, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, chief scientific officer at Backfitpro Inc., and author of Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance. “Typical cycling challenges the thighs—the quads and the hamstrings—but not really the gluteals,” he says. There are exceptions. “Sprinters use the glutes for acceleration. Hill climbers will use them when they’re out of the saddle. Otherwise, you will see most cyclists with hypertrophied [enlarged] legs, but the same could not be said for their glutes.”
“I would really focus on learning how macros work, how your body works and how it reacts to certain foods, and what your body requires each day to maintain your weight,” he advises. “Then you can start playing around with increasing calories [to bulk up], and decreasing calories when you're dieting.” Our beginner's guide to macros will definitely help.
Creatine is a natural source of energy for muscle contraction. The body produces creatine in the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. People can also get creatine by eating meat or fish. (Vegetarians may have lower amounts of creatine in their bodies.) Most of the creatine in the body is stored in skeletal muscle and used during physical activity. The rest is used in the heart, brain, and other tissues.
1. Train each muscle group twice per week. To maximize muscle growth, plan to train every major muscle group at least twice per week. According to a 2016 Sports Medicine review, even if you don't work that muscle any harder or longer, by simply dividing your chest, leg or back workout into two days, you'll spur more muscle growth. While the jury is still out on whether training each muscle group three days per week is better than two at spurring hypertrophy, it is likely better suited toward experienced lifters than beginners, Matheny says.
TT may help you but it may have adverse (harmful) results. (See discussion of these side effects below.) The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has said that testosterone drug labels should state that there is a risk for heart disease and stroke for some men using testosterone products. All men should be checked for heart disease and stroke before, and periodically while on, TT. The AUA however, on careful review of evidence-based peer review literature, has stated that there is no strong evidence that TT either increases or decreases the risk of cardiovascular events.
Supplementation of a loading phase of creatine has been noted to augment the increase in RBC levels of superoxide dismutase (SOD) from exercise, when measured immediately after, by 8.1%, but control groups increased to match within an hour. Glutathione (normally decreases with exercise) and catalase (increases) were both unaffected, and elsewhere in vitro red blood cells incubated with 3mM of creatine (within the supplemental range) is able to improve filterability (a measure of cell rheology, or fluid structure of the cell) when RBC creatine was increased by 12.3% to reach 554µM. This was thought to be due to reduced oxidative stress (assessed via MDA) in the red blood cells, which in the presence of 1-5mM creatine was progressively reduced by 20-41%.