Androgen Hacking 101: The Biohackers Guide To [Boosting] Testosterone

Androgen Hacking 101: The Biohackers Guide To [Boosting] Testosterone

I know what you’re thinking:

Most men are of skeptical of the “testosterone booster” market…
…and for good reason.

We hear the ads on the radio and TV every day.

“For just 3 easy payments of 29.95 you can boost your T naturally and be a god in the sack!”

Please.

Rest assured, this article has nothing to do with flashy branding or pretty blue pills that will supposedly make your junk bigger.

Today you’re going to learn the fundamentals of androgen hacking aka boosting testosterone levels without needing Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT).

These 7 strategies should be at the core of any biohackers arsenal who is trying to boost androgen levels naturally.

What are these basic building blocks of a natural androgen boosting plan?

In no particular order:

  1. Get your body fat percentage down
  2. Correct vitamin/mineral deficiencies
  3. Lift heavy weights
  4. Optimize sleep
  5. Fix any major dietary issues
  6. Minimize stress
  7. Avoid xenoestrogens

If any of these 7 things are out of whack, your levels are going to be sub-par at best.

Why?

Before we dig in deep and see what the research says about each of these, let me give you a basic definition.

What is androgen hacking?

A simple definition:

‘Androgen hacking’ is the process of systematically increasing testosterone levels and optimizing men’s health.

Biohacking testosterone can be accomplished in a 5 easy steps.

  1. Get some baseline lab work.
  2. Implement the 7 ‘heavy hitter’ proven strategies talked about in this guide.
  3. Retest labs. This is your new baseline.
  4. Tweek and optimize.
  5. Repeat steps 3&4 endlessly.

Let’s jump right in:

1. Get Your Body Fat Percentage Down

A Man With A Low Bodyfat Percent

Does weight loss increase androgens?

Well, it depends.

If your body fat percentage is greater than 14% then absolutely, yes.

For example:

A study done on 900 prediabetic men found almost a 50% drop in low T prevalence after losing an average of about 17 pounds (7.8 kilograms) over one year.

We also know that not only do obese men have significantly lower levels of testosterone than guys with a “normal” body fat percentage. We also know that the opposite is true. Skinny guys have significantly higher levels than big guys.

There are lots of reasons why this is the case. One interesting fact is that the more fat you have on your body, the more testosterone gets converted into estrogen.

Keep in mind that there is a tipping point for how low your body fat percentage should be.

An optimal body fat percentage for optimal testosterone levels is somewhere around 9-14%. We know this from looking at natural bodybuilders and how their hormones recover from their competitions (when body fat percent is crazy low). The study concluded that the reason for this is because your reproductive function slows down at those low levels. Basically, your body goes into survival mode and there is no time for it to be optimizing anything other than the basics.

The fact of the matter is that the more notches needed in your belt buckle, the lower your testosterone levels will be.

Why is this?

More fat has been proven to correlate with the increased production of aromatase.

What does aromatase do?

One of the primary functions of aromatase is to convert testosterone into estrogen. By having a higher body fat percentage, you are quite literally turning your hormone profile into one that represents that of a female.

So how do you lose weight?

Much has been written on this topic so I won’t go into crazy detail here.

Here are the basics:

Ignore all the trendy fad diets and useless diet pills. It sounds totally unsexy, but losing weight all comes down to burning more energy (aka calories) than you consume.

Weight loss comes down to energy balance.

However, our goal is to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.

In this case, we need to be a bit more specific with are macros. In the diet section below I will teach the perfect Macronutrient profile for:

  1. Losing Fat
  2. Gaining muscle
  3. Boosting T

The androgen boosting macro profile outlined below remains the same for weight loss, gain, and maintenance.

After having said all that, there is one trendy ‘diet’ that has been big on the scene here recently. The only reason I’m bringing it up is that it has some sound science behind it that supports a boost in T levels.

This ‘diet’ isn’t really a diet per se. What am I referring to of course:

Intermittent Fasting

I consider Intermittent fasting more of a weight loss strategy than I do a diet.

How does it work?

All you have to do is skip breakfast a couple of times a week. Eat your last meal of the day at 7 pm. Go to bed and then skip breakfast the next day. Don’t eat that next day until at least 11 am. By doing this, you will effectively be fasting for a 16 hour period.

Hand picked related article:

Learn how to use intermittent fasting to increase T levels [Case Study]

2. Correct Vitamin/Mineral Deficiencies

Vitamins and Minerals

Odds are that you currently have some sort of vitamin or mineral deficiency.

This 2014 study, done in the states found:

In large proportions of the population, micronutrient sufficiency is currently not being achieved through food solutions for several essential vitamins and minerals.

Testosterone synthesis is a very complicated process. It involves literally almost every vitamin, mineral, and micro-nutrient you can think of.

There are 3 vitamins and minerals in particular that seem to have the biggest impact on your T levels.

  1. Zinc
  2. Boron
  3. Vitamin D

Zinc

It has been well established that zinc has a positive correlation with serum testosterone levels:

Serum testosterone concentrations were significantly correlated with cellular zinc concentrations…

Another study found that not only does zinc increase testosterone levels, it also increased sperm count.

It also seems to counter the reduction in testosterone that is typically seen with high-intensity training programs (aka overtraining).

Boron

Boron does increase total testosterone levels, but it does increase free testosterone and DHT. After just 7 days of supplementation of boron, free testosterone levels increase by 28.3%.

Supplement with about 10 mg of Boron each day.

Hand Picked Related Article

How To Use Boron To Increase Testosterone And Decrease Estrogen By 40% [In Just 6 Hours]

Vitamin D

A Man Getting Vitamin D

Vitamin D isn’t really a vitamin. It’s actually a prohormone. Supplementing with vitamin D alone has been proven to increase testosterone by 25% in regular health men.

In another study, it was found that by taking 3,300 IU of vitamin D each day over one year, you can boost your T levels by 20%.

Supplement with 3000 - 5000 IU of vitamin D each day.

3. Exercise - Lift Heavy Weights (And Do Some HIIT)

This is one of the most tried and true ways to increase testosterone levels naturally.

Here are some basic guidelines when creating an exercise program focused on boosting testosterone:

  1. The more muscle used in a given exercise, the better. The four big compound movements - Squat, deadlift, bench press, and military press should be at the heart of any program you come up with. What we know is that more muscle equals more testosterone. When adding accessory exercises use this same concept. For example, you should always pick dips over tricep pulldowns and chin-ups over barbell curls.

  2. Use progressive overload to lift heavier and heavier weights each time you go to the gym. More weight on the bar leads to more muscle. More muscle leads to more testosterone.

  3. Don’t overtrain. Workout sessions don’t need to be marathons. Get in, do 2-4 big lifts and get out. You shouldn’t ever be at the gym more than 90 mins or so at the most. In addition, 3-4 times a week with rest days in between should be considered optimal. Watch for any signs of overtraining. Examples include trouble sleeping, a decrease in the amount of weight you’re able to lift, and excessive soreness. Overtraining leads to increases in cortisol which is a major testosterone killer (see the stress section below)

  4. You can do cardio, but do the right kind of cardio. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio is where it’s at when it comes to boosting testosterone levels. Sprints are a great example of this. Avoid doing any long sustained cardio like the plague.

The Androgen Hacker Exercise Program For Maximizing Testosterone Levels

Big Strong Body Builder

This is the T boosting exercise program I used to double my testosterone.

It’s super simple:

I lift weights on 3 nonconsecutive days and use a 5x5 program that focuses on big compound exercises. I also do 30 50 yard sprints on 2 other days of the week.

That’s it.

Each weight lifting session takes me 60 to 90 minutes.

Here is an example of the exact program:

  • Day 1: Back and Biceps

    • Deadlift
    • Rows
    • Chin Ups
    • Shrugs
    • Barbell Curls 3x8 (optional)
  • Day 2: Sprints

    • 30x 50-yard sprints. Do a sprint and walk back to the starting line. Rinse and repeat until complete.
  • Day 3: Chest and Triceps

    • Bench Press
    • Incline Bench Press
    • Dips
    • Skull Crushers 3x8 (optional)
  • Day 4: Rest Day

    • Take the day off. You are going to need it for tomorrow.
  • Day 5: Legs and Shoulders
    • Squat
    • Military Press
    • Leg Press
    • Lateral Shoulder Raise
    • Rear Delt Raise
  • Day 6: Sprints

    • 30x 50-yard sprints again.
  • Day 7: Rest Day

Simple program, but it gets hard quick.

Here’s why:

Progressive Overload and Linear Progression


It’s important that you are lifting heavier and heavier weights each and every time you go to the gym.

For each exercise, start with a relatively low weight. Pick a weight that you’re comfortable with. Do your workout and next week when you do that workout again, add weight to the bar.

How much weight should you add?

It doesn’t matter, so long as it’s more. As a rule of thumb, start low and go slow is the motto here.

Add first you’re going to be able to add big amounts to the bar. When this is the situation, I recommend only going up by 5 lbs. You want to milk linear progression for as long as you can. Eventually, you’re going to reach a point where you won’t be able to add weight to the bar. At this point, I recommend looking into buying fractional plates. You can use these small weights to add as little as 0.5 lbs to the bar (total).

Here are some common questions about the androgen hacker program:

How many sets and reps?

With the exception of barbell curls and skull crushers, you will be doing 5 sets with 5 reps each.

Skull crushers and barbell curls are totally optional. If you do decide to do these exercises, you should do 3 sets with 8 reps each.

Do I Need To Warm Up?

Yes.

There are 4 exercises that require warm-up:

  • Squat
  • Deadlift
  • Bench Press
  • Over Head Press

You should be doing 3 warmup sets for each of these exercises. Weights are determined based on percentages of working weight (i.e. the amount of weight you’re doing 5 sets of 5 reps with).

It looks like this:

  • 1st warm up set: Do 8 reps at 50% of your working weight
  • 2nd: Do 6 reps at 70%
  • 3rd: Do 3 reps as 90%

Rest time in between warm-up sets should be only as long as it takes you to change the weights on the bar.

Rest Periods Between Sets

For your working weight, the rest time between sets should be 3 minutes OR as long as it takes for you to recover. ‘Recover’ just means allowing enough time for your heart rate and respiratory rate to come back down to baseline.

4. Optimize Sleep

A Man Sleeping

Did you know that for every one hour of sleep you get or don’t get, there is a 15% increase or decrease in your testosterone levels the next day?

Crazy I know.

It’s been proven time and time again. Here’s another example:

“Association between sleep and morning testosterone levels in older men”

They compared the testosterone levels in older men who got 4 hours of sleep vs. men who got 8 hours of sleep each night.

Guess what they found?

  • The 4-hour group - Their T levels averages about 200 to 300 ng/dl
  • The 8-hour group, on the other hand, were closer to 500 to 700 ng/dl

Getting enough quality sleep alone could mean the difference between being successful naturally versus needing to be prescribed TRT.

Here is a list of 8 simple tips for optimizing sleep:

  1. Exercise in the morning
  2. Don’t consume caffeine later than noon
  3. Keep the temperature between 63 and 67 degrees farenheight
  4. Wear earplugs
  5. Use blackout blinds
  6. Use a blue light filter on your computer and phone after the sun goes down
  7. Keep a regular sleep schedule
  8. Don’t drink any fluids 2 hours before bedtime

5. Fix Any Major Dietary Issues

There are two key points here:

  1. Optimizing your macronutrients.
  2. Optimizing the amount of food your eating.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

Macronutrients

Fat is probably one of the most important macronutrients when it comes to T production.

Eggs and Bacon

Ideally, you want about 30% of your diet coming from fat.

This is because testosterone literally is created from fat. Cholesterol specifically is probably the most important nutrient for you to be consuming if you’re trying to boost testosterone.

Plain and simple:

Research has found that a higher fat intake leads to higher testosterone levels.

Keep in mind though that testosterone does not dosed dependently increase with an increase in fat intake. There is a tipping point or put another way, a point of diminishing returns. This is because the other macros are also very important.

Carbohydrates do seem to correlate in a dose dependent fashion with increases in testosterone.

Say what?

Ignore all the hype in the media saying carbs are bad for you. Not when it comes to testosterone. You want about 50% of your diet to come from carbohydrates.

That being said, it’s important to avoid simple sugars or highly processed carbohydrates.

Why?

Well, simple sugars spike insulin and these spikes can lead to insulin resistance over time. Insulin resistance has been shown to reduce testosterone levels. Even more interesting, an acute spike in insulin has been proven to directly suppress T levels.

Protein as it turns out is much less important for testosterone than you might think.

Red Meat

Researchers have proven that there is a negative correlation (after a certain point) between an increase in protein and testosterone levels. This is primarily related to the reduction in carbohydrates (and healthy fats) that must take place when you assume an equal number of total calories.

Still skeptical of a lower protein, higher carb diet? Check this out:

As protein intake goes up, so does SHBG. That means lower levels of free testosterone circulating in your body.

Dietary protein should make up the remaining 20% of your diet. 20% is more than enough.

Calories

Whether you are trying to lose weight, maintain, or gain weight, there is an optimal way to do it to maintain hormone balance as a male.

You can lose weight at a ~15% calorie deficit without having any kind of disruption in testosterone levels.

Maintaining your weight will also not have any effect on T levels, but a slight calorie surplus will.

Eating in a calorie surplus leads to higher levels of testosterone than eating at maintenance or in a deficit. If your body fat percentage can handle it, it would be ideal to eat at more than maintenance.

Actionable Takeaway: Breakdown your macros into 50% carbs, 30% fats, and 20% protein. Eat in a calorie surplus.

6. Minimize Stress

A Stressed Out Man

Cortisol is the root of all evil when it comes to keeping testosterone levels up.

This is for 2 reasons:

  1. In order for your body to produce cortisol, it uses cholesterol. As mentioned above, cholesterol one of the key nutrients in the production of testosterone. When there’s less cholesterol in circulation (because it’s being used in the production of cortisol) that means that there is less testosterone in circulation as well.

  2. Cortisol literally direct suppresses the production of T inside your testicles.

So how can we reduce stress and decrease cortisol?

Here are a few suggestions that are backed by science:

This is a neat little trick:

Over 2 minutes, you can decrease cortisol AND increase testosterone by 20% or more by improving your posture using “power poses”.

This includes:

  • Standing with hands on your hips. (Think wonder woman)
  • Sitting with both hands behind your head
  • Leaning over a table with both hands on the table

Give it a try.

7. Avoid Xenoestrogens

First of all, whats a xenoestrogen?

A Xenoestrogen is a big fancy name for the chemicals that literally mimic estrogens (i.e. it isn’t actually estrogen) and comes from an outside source.

In fact:

“Xeno” comes from Greek origin and translates to literally mean ‘foreigner’ or ‘stranger’.

So where do they come from?

These things are litterally everywhere. It’s scary.

Xenoestrogens come from a variety of places including:

  • Herbicides
  • Plastics
  • Pesticides
  • Bi-Products of Manufacturing
  • Insecticides
  • Parabens
  • Cosmetic Products
  • Detergents
  • Phytoestrogens

Let’s look at a few examples so that we understand some common places that are of concern.

Our Water (Tap, Filtered, Bottled - You name it)

In 2014 Atrazine was the 2nd most used herbicide next to roundup.

Who cares?

Well, Atrazine has been shown to reduce androgen levels and synthesizes estrogen in frogs to the point of demasculinization and feminization. Put another way, it literally turned male tadpoles into hermaphrodites.

Here’s the kicker:

It’s the most common herbicide in USA drinking water.

Here’s a map of the United States that shows where it is most prominent:

USA map of atrazine

Hand picked related article:

Here Are The Crazy Things Atrazine Does To Humans

Plastic

The chemical structure of BPA is almost identical to that of estrogen. So much so that it actually binds to human estrogen receptors.

Key takeaway: Avoid drinks and food products that come packaged in plastic unless the package specifically states “BPA Free”

Self Care Products

Almost all lotions, deoderants, shaving creams etc. contain parabens. Parabens are endocrine disruptors.

Even your toothpaste (fluoride) has been proven to supress testosterone.

Phytoestrogens

A phytoestrogen is simply a xenoestrogen that comes from a food source. The most notorious phytoestrogen is soy. Avoid all soy products like the plague.

These Are The First Steps An Androgen Hacker Should Take

There are many ways a biohacker can boost his androgen levels, but it’s pointless to attempt any of the advanced techniques without first mastering the basics.

There are 7 key factors that will have the biggest impact on testosterone levels:

  1. Body Fat Percentage
  2. Vitamins/minerals
  3. Exercise
  4. Sleep
  5. Diet
  6. Stress
  7. Xenoestrogens

There’s nothing ‘sexy’ or revolutionary about these, but they are the 20% of the hacks that provide 80% of the results.

Have you had success boosting T levels using these methods?

Are there any hacks you would add to this list?

Leave your thoughts in the comments.

David Becker, RN, CCRN
David Becker, RN, CCRN Mr. Becker is a father, husband, and CCRN in Trauma ICU. You can read his inspiring comeback story From 412ng/dl To 923ng/dl In 6 Months - Without TRT. Feel free to follow him or ask something specific in the comments below.
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