Testosterone is one of the least understood hormones in women due to the limited studies done as far as its effect in women in general, but especially on women that practice weight lifting. Let’s take a look at what we do know about testosterone and how it affects this group of women.
The Bulking Up Myth
It is true that testosterone in men is one of the main reasons they can grow such large muscles. But this won’t happen in women due to the fact they naturally have eight to 10 times less testosterone then a man. So lift away and rest assured you will not develop muscle mass like men or even bulk up at all for that matter. What you will notice is a toning up or firming of the muscles you have helping to give you that sexy lean look.
Testosterone in men is produced in the testes. But in women, half of their testosterone is produced in the ovaries and adrenal glands and the other half converted from androstenodione – a naturally occurring androgenic steroid produced by the body and broken down into estrogen and testosterone once in the bloodstream.
One study found that females, who exercised ten hours or more per week, had increased testosterone levels and lower body mass indexes. However, the study also found that more is not necessarily better. Too much exercise lowered testosterone levels.
To get the most testosterone produced from your workout, be sure to:
- Focus on exercises that work the large muscle groups, such as bench presses, back rows and squats.
- Include days into your weight lifting routine that include heavier weights, even at the expense of doing fewer reps per set.
- For the exercises you do, make sure to do at least three sets of each one.
- Give your body at least one day (and preferably two) between weightlifting workouts, especially if you are doing the same routine each time.
- Eat the right food to support your workout, including adequate amounts of protein, carbs and healthy fats.
Low T Causes
If you are a female into weight lifting and are experiencing low sexual drive, having sleep issues, losing muscle mass and are in a depressed mood, you could be suffering from low T. In weight lifting women, three causes of low T could be:
Look at your level of training. If you are training significantly over ten hours per week, and experiencing any of the low T signs, drop back your training time week and see if any of the low T signs change for the better.
2) Birth Control Pills
If you are taking this type of contraception, it could be inhibiting your testosterone production. It decreases the amount of testosterone production in the ovaries by significantly increasing a chemical called steroid hormone binding globulin or SHBG. And its effects can be lasting. In a study of 125 young women, they showed SHBG levels that were seven times higher after being off the pill for one year than women never having taken the pill.
What you eat can play a big part in the amount of testosterone you have in your body. One of the big T killers is soy milk. The isoflavones in it alter hormone levels of which one lowered is testosterone. If you are using soy milk in your protein shakes, switch to a different kind of non-dairy milk like almond and see if anything changes.
To get the most from your weight lifting workouts you want to max out on testosterone. Taking the suggestions into consideration can help increase T levels. If you are still having low T signs, see your doctor as they may be able to help with prescribed T supplementation.