Testosterone is the most sought after, and also the most controversial medical treatment for men looking to improve their performance in professional sports and bodybuilding, or even by general men who want to increase their “manhood” or reverse the clock.
Testosterone is a hormone, that is chemically a steroid, and is produced in men mainly by the testicles, and in women by the ovaries and adrenal glands. It is present in very smaller quantities in women, as compared to men. Testosterone levels are highest in adolescence and early adulthood, after which it starts declining naturally.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone and is crucial for the proper growth and development of male sex organs and secondary sexual characteristics. Testosterone important roles in men & women maintaining the good health and well-being of both men and women. In this article, we will focus on the role of testosterone in body building.
Role of Testosterone in Body building
Testosterone increases lean muscle mass, increases bone mineral density, decreases body fat, and increases insulin sensitivity. Additionally, testosterone acts on the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and improves the metabolism of fat and glucose, thus increasing the number of calories burnt, decreasing body fat, and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
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How does testosterone increase muscle mass?
Testosterone is called an anabolic steroid because it stimulates muscle growth and strength by increasing protein synthesis. According to the current theory, testosterone activates and increases the number of “satellite cells” which are the precursor muscle fiber cells. These combine with the existing muscle fiber cells or the satellite cells fuse to form new muscle fibers, and increases the muscle mass.
Furthermore, testosterone also increases the number of control centres in the muscle fibers, thus increasing the number of testosterone androgen receptors in the muscles. When combined with physical workouts which activate these androgen receptors, and consuming protein supplementation, the effect of testosterone on muscle building increases manifold.
Testosterone also has anti-catabolic properties as it inhibits the binding of catabolic hormones such as cortisol to its receptors. In this way, testosterone also prevents muscle breakdown and helps with increasing as well as maintaining the muscle mass.
How does testosterone improve muscle strength?
Along with increasing muscle mass, testosterone also improves the strength of the muscles by increasing the amount of calcium that is released within the cells, which increases the power of muscle contractions.
How does testosterone increase endurance and stamina?
People look up to testosterone not just for increasing muscle mass, but also to improve endurance. Testosterone increases red blood cell production and development. This leads to increased oxygen supply in the body as well as to the muscles, thereby improving endurance, as well as the post-exercise recovery period.
How does testosterone increase bone density?
Studies have shown that testosterone stimulates the formation and differentiation of osteoblasts, which are bone-forming cells. It also suppresses osteoclast formation and bone resorption. Thus, increasing bone density and health, which is crucial to support the muscle mass and protect the internal organs.
Risks of abusing testosterone by professional sportspersons
Testosterone is among the most abused steroid by bodybuilders and athletes. The muscle growth and rapid recovery that it provides, make it very lucrative for them. They are rapidly able to increase their muscle mass beyond what their bodies would normally be able to do, and can also train for a much longer duration without needing to take a break due to the increased endurance from testosterone supplements.
However, all this comes at a heavy price. Testosterone must be taken for a long period of time in order to get these kinds of results, but with long-term usage, there are many associated side effects, such as liver damage, cardiovascular issues, high cholesterol, adverse effects on prostate, and can also cause certain types of cancer.
To discourage the use of testosterone by sportspersons, it is deemed a controlled substance in U.S., U.K. , Canada, and Australia.
A person having normal testosterone levels should never take testosterone supplementation because it may not give the desired results but will cause serious side effects. Testosterone replacement therapy is useful only in patients who have been diagnosed to have clinically low testosterone levels and need supplementation to remain healthy. Thus, take testosterone supplements only if prescribed by your doctor.
Natural and Safe Ways to Boost Testosterone Levels
Testosterone levels can be increased to some extent by certain herbs such as Ashwagandha, Saw palmetto, pine bark extract, puncturevine, Malaysian ginseng, etc., and also by vitamin D, L-arginine, DHEA, and zinc supplementation. Foods such as egg yolk, tuna, garlic, oysters, etc. also stimulate the production of testosterone. These are some of the natural and safe ways to boost testosterone levels.