How important is testosterone for your training? Very important! No, I’m not talking about doping here, but about the metabolic hormone that plays an important part in our training. What it does and why it’s so important – Tutorial Thursday 35 will tell you!
Different to what most people believe testosterone occurs both in the male and female body. It differs, however, in quantity and function.
Testosterone is a sex hormone that consists of androgenes (certain amino acids).
The male mostly generates it in the testicles and there it has the task to regulate and stimulate sperm production and growth. Thus, it is mostly about procreation. If the testosterone level is too low the primary and secondary sexual characteristics can’t properly develop and their function can’t be maintained constantly. Body hair is also regulated by testosterone. The female also generates testosterone but in smaller amounts and mostly in the ovaries or the adrenal cortex. For females however, this hormone plays a minor role.
Testosterone makes you aggressive
There is indeed a correlation between a heightened testosterone level and aggression. While it was easily proven with animals, an increased testosterone level in humans can be related to a higher tendency towards aggression (both wikipedia entries in english and german differ in their take on this, while the english article doesn’t convey clear correlations between testosterone and aggression, the german article says that a heightened testosterone level in humans leads to ‘affected regulation of emotional and motivational processes, lower social sensibility, and strong reward motivation’.). This doesn’t mean that every male homo sapiens is just waiting to start the next bar brawl. It simply means that you are more apt to assert yourself against others. And a certain basic level of aggression has, from an evolutionary point of view, given us the edge over competitors and let us survive (survival of the fittest). So when I try to project this fact into our daily life I can think of two areas where more testosterone can be helpful:
1 – in our job
Studies have shown that men with a higher testosterone level are more likely to climb the ladder career-wise. In our modern elbow society they often have it easier because they are more willing to assert themselves.
2 – in sports
And this is the point I was going to address in more detail. You may have heard of the term ‘beast mode’ in the gym or in a talk with other athletes. This is a mindset that is supposed to help you be faster, stronger, better with an aggressive attitude. At least that’s what it supposedly does.<3>Or does it really have effects on our performance?
Theoretically, yes, because testosterone effects muscle growth (the anabolic effect) and increases the activity level which in turn helps you develop your power. It is no coincidence that this hormone is often used as doping (anabolic agents). You can also see many athletes punching their arms and legs before a competition. Of course, this primarily activates blood flow in the big muscle groups but it also must give them the feeling that King Kong would have had climbing the Empire State Building, punching his chest majestically. Being aggressive and ready to take on anybody. Whether it’s an opponent opposite that ring, a kettlebell or the barbell in CrossFit.
How about a little more testosterone?
To increase your testosterone level makes definitely sense for your training. In a natural way, that is! Testosterone doping is a big intrusion into your hormone balance and can cause serious health issues. And while women can get ‘manlier’ (increase hair growth, deeper voice) due to testosterone abuse, with men it can be the direct opposite (hair loss and infertility). Irrespective of hte fact that testosterone doping is pathetic way of cheating that affects others as well as oneself. But maybe it can help you achieve peak performance with some little tricks that increase your aggression level.
- Try to think of something that makes you angry.
- Tense every muscle in your body before an exercise
- Slap yourself on our thighs, butt, and chest muscles (pain makes you aggressive).
- Scream and yell to get in the mood.
- Listen to aggressive music that pushes you
As you can see, these tricks have nothing to do with doping. More than enything else they are mental tricks that will get you in the right mood and concentrated state of mind to be in the best mental state for the upcoming challenge. Aggression is a part of all that and it is clearly better to use this aggression on kettlebells than to unleash it on your fellow trainees. Remember: there is a little gorilla in all of us. Let it out from time to time!