What is Testosterone?
What exactly is testosterone and why is it so important? Testosterone is one of the body’s primary anabolic hormones (also including GH, Insulin and IGF-1). The term anabolic, a misused and often misunderstood term to be sure, is defined as “characterized by or promoting constructive metabolism”.
As a anabolic hormone produced by the body, testosterone is considered by many modern authorities to be the number one hormone for muscle growth. However, I see it as one of several important hormones and feel the best results come from manipulating all of them, instead of focusing on just one.
Hormones are chemical messengers that are released in one tissue and transported in the bloodstream to alter the activities of specific cells in other tissues. Each hormone has target cells, which are specific cells that have the receptors needed to bind and read the hormonal message. Also, hormones alter the operations of target cells by changing the types, quantities or activities of important enzymes and structural proteins.
Hormones can be divided into three groups:
>Amino acid derivatives- this group of hormones are synthesized from the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan.
>Peptide hormones- this class includes some of the hormones of interest to bodybuilders, such as GH and insulin.
>Steroid hormones- this class includes testosterone. They are structurally similar to cholesterol and are released by the male and female reproductive organs.
It should be noted that hormones must first bind to a receptor to have an affect on the target cell, these receptors are actually a protein molecule. Each cell has receptors for responding to several different hormones.
Testosterone is part of a hormone group known as gonadotrophins which regulate the activities of the gonads: the ovaries in women and the testes in men. There are two gonadotrophins: follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, also known as lutropin. This is the hormone that stimulates the sex hormones in men, also called androgens, testosterone is the most important of these. It’s classified as a steroid hormone and it’s made from cholesterol. Although testosterone is often thought of as a sex hormone because it controls the development of male sexual characteristics, it has a much larger role as it ties into bodybuilding.
It promotes protein synthesis and nitrogen balance leading to greater muscle growth. While it’s true that steroids are synthetic versions of this hormone, the levels provided by the drugs are extremely high. Manipulation of the body’s natural hormones will not come anywhere near these levels but will still produce impressive results. One of the key ways to naturally increase test levels in the body is by focusing on compound exercises such as squats, dead-lifts, power cleans, dips and chins or any basic movement that requires the whole body to move in the performance of the exercise.
GH can be bought into play by using any technique that promotes the “burn” – the build-up of lactic acid. Nutritionally speaking, you don’t want to go super low in fat intake since testosterone is made from cholesterol. Choose healthy fats but keep your fat intake to around 20% of total calories. Additionally, you may notice some protein powders have a fairly high amount of cholesterol, this is one reason why. Insulin is primarily diet controlled, it enhances amino acid absorption and protein synthesis but to much of it released throughout the day will cause fat storage. The common thread here is the connection to protein synthesis, which is defined as the method by which muscles are constructed. It is the very heart of muscle growth.
So, if you are a natural bodybuilder trying to put on muscle mass, most likely you are finding it to be a difficult task. You need to have all the pieces of the puzzle in their proper place if you want to achieve success, not the least being a complete understanding of how to make the most of natural hormone production. Supplements that increase testosterone can be a huge help in this process and yet be safe to use.
Let’s take a look at some of the primary ingredients in these products:
Tribulus-is a vine plant that grows in moderate and tropical climates in the United States, Mexico, Eastern Europe, India and China. Tribulus is thought to support a healthy hormone profile by boosting testosterone levels by stimulation of the anterior pituitary gland. This stimulation is thought to promote the production and secretion of Leutinizing Hormone (LH) which can lead to increases in unbound, free-testosterone levels.
Tribulus contains steroidal saponins, alkaloids, and flavanoids, but it’s the protodioscins content (Similar to DHEA) of Tribulus that is believed to be responsible for its ability to boost testosterone levels. As a supplement, it’s use can be traced back to the 70’s but it has become far more widespread in more recent years.
ZMA-is a scientifically designed, patent-pending anabolic mineral formula. It contains Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate, Magnesium Aspartate and vitamin B-6, and is an all-natural product that has been shown to increase anabolic hormone levels and muscle strength in weight lifters and athletes. The proportion of ingredients is typically 20-30 mg zinc, 400-500 mg magnesium and 10mg B6.
Longjack- is a bitter tasting herb extracted from the Eurycoma shrub grown in Malaysia and Asia. The Eurycoma Longifolia Jack extract is taken from the roots of the plant. Longjack is believed to stimulate the production of testosterone and to reduce the levels of bound and metabolically inactive testosterone in the body. It is believed to achieve this through the Leutinizing Hormone (LH) pathway.
Testosterone Booster Benefits
>Helps increase the body’s natural production of testosterone.
This is a supplement that impacts the effects of the hormone testosterone, as opposed to providing benefits that are separate from that function, this makes it a specialized product that serves a specific purpose. This is something that has been mentioned elsewhere in these guides and one of the things that make the use of supplements a critical part of your program, you just can’t achieve the specialized results without them.
In the human body, testosterone occurs in two states – bound and unbound testosterone. 90% of natural testosterone is bound to the plasma protein called sex hormone-binding globulin. That makes only 2% of unbound testosterone that is free to circulate in the bloodstream to bind with androgen receptors located at different parts of the body, including the muscle cells.
Testosterone directly effects muscle growth by binding to receptors on the surface of muscle cells and amplifying the biochemical signals in the muscles that result in protein synthesis. By boosting protein synthesis in the muscles, testosterone directly increases muscle size. By amplifying the release of other growth factors such as growth hormone, testosterone also promotes the process of protein synthesis in general. The result of all of this is an overall increase in muscle size, strength and recovery. So, with this in mind and the discussion above, it can be seen that the total approach to hormone manipulation will produce the best results and, in the case of testosterone,the use of a well chosen test booster will enhance the effects.
Testosterone Supplements,When to Take and How Much?
Test booster products come in primarily capsules, tablets and chewables. This is pretty much a stand alone product, you will not find it as part of to many formula products, this is due to it’s specialized nature. Many products will, however, combine various testosterone related ingredients, some may even add in GH releasers for maximum effect. It should be said that these products are safe to use and while they can be effective, they just are not strong enough to cause some of the side effects you may hear about that are related to steroid use.
As to timing, every product will have it’s own recommendation but I suggest 2-3 capsules (or tablets) 3 times a day with one dose about an hour prior to training. Dosage should within the guidelines of the product but you will find around 6 to as many as 9 a day suggested depending on the product. As always, carefully read all labels before buying and be sure to buy to your goal. Below we are featuring some of the most popular testosterone boosters based on consumer reviews. Compare on amazon.com and bodybuilding.com to get best deals.
Top Selling Testosterone Boosters
Optimum Nutrition ZMA
Contains the PATENTED BLEND of Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6
May Increase Testosterone Levels and Muscle Strength in Well-Trained Athletes
May Offer Even Better Results When Stacked with Creatine, Glutamine, HMB, or Other Strength & Recovery Products.
Our rating: 4.7/5
NOW Foods Tribulus
1,000 mg – Standardized Extract
Minimum 45% Saponins
Our rating: 4.5/5
Muscle Pharm Battle Fuel Testosterone Booster
Strength And Aggression In The Gym
Lean Mass Builder
Our rating: 4.4/5
All American EFX Test Charge Kit
Test Charge is a non-steroidal, non-prohormone, all-natural testosterone activator that works WITH the body’s natural physiological processes in helping to amplify free testosterone levels.
All-natural testosterone activator.
Our rating: 4.2/5
MHP T-Bomb II 168 Tablets
Increased Muscle Mass and Strength.
Increased Fat Mobilization and Decreased Body Fat.
Increased Protein Synthesis.
Increased Muscle Glycogen Synthesis.
Even Increased Sex Drive and Performance.
Our rating: 4/5
Universal Nutrition Animal Test
Complete, all-in-one test product that has been specially tweaked for maximum oral bioavailability.
Is the ultimate in legal hypertrophic, pro-testosterone supplementation.
Couples dynamic herbal extracts that facilitate a rise in testosterone with effective anti-estrogen compounds.
Our rating: 4/5
Universal Nutrition ZMA Pro
Easy To Swallow Tablets
Chromium Picolinate And L-Carnitine Enhanced Lipotropic
Our rating: 4/5
Ergogenix Ergotest – 180 Capsules
More Androgen Receptors
Our rating: 3.5/5
Evotest Powder – Testosterone Support
Supports Production of Testosterone Already Within the Normal Range
World’s First Concentrated Testosterone Support Powder
Efficacious Formula – Only 2 Servings per Day
9-Component TEST Matrix
Full 3-Week Cycle in Each Bottle
Our rating: 3.5/5
Aromavex – Concentrated Hormonal Support
BSN’s First Concentrated Hormonal Support Supplement
Pair with Evotest™ or Hyper FX
Full 3-Week Supply in Each Bottle
Our rating: 3.5/5
USPLabs Test Powder
Activate Your Inner Alpha
240 gram bottle of Test Powder: The Alpha Activator, Fruit Punch
Each Loaded Serving is Equivalent to 20 Capsules!*
4 Week Cycle
Our rating: 3.5/5
Z-Force is a special blend of minerals designed for high anabolic support. Z-FORCE was developed to help with hormone levels and muscle strength in athletes.
Our rating: 3.5/5
Muscletech Alpha Test Booster
Key ingredients supported by four separate human clinical studies
Supplies a precise dose to increase free testosterone
Contain effective doses to enhance training performance
Delivers premium-quality ingredients in precise and fully disclosed, clinically researched doses
Our rating: 3/5
Labrada Nutrition Humanogrowth 120Ct Pack of 2
Growth Factor Formula
Increases Positive Nitrogen Balance
Increases Protein Efficiency
Has No Side Effects – Completely Safe and Legal
Our rating: 3/5