Testosterone is the primary muscle-building hormone in your body, and increasing your strength with a low level of testosterone can be challenging. Overcoming this deficiency as you attempt to build muscle strength may require attention to your overall diet, maximization of the effects of other hormones, expansion of your workout to include exercises other than those you normally think of as muscle-building and adjustments to your lifestyle.
Do short intense cardiovascular exercise two or three times a week. Using a stationary bike, warm up for three minutes, cycle as fast as you can for 30 seconds and rest for 90 seconds. Repeat the speed and recovery sequence seven times for a 17-minute routine. According to a study reported in the July 2003 issue of "Sports Medicine," short, intense cardio of a minimum of 10 minutes helps increase human growth hormone, which -- in turn -- helps increase muscle strength.
Do a short intense strength-training routine after your intense cardio routine. Focus on your major muscle groups, such as your chest, shoulders, back, legs and glutes. Using free weights and resistance machines, do two two-part sets per exercise. Use a light weight for 12 reps to warm up, and a heavy weight for four to eight reps. This routine should take approximately 30 minutes.
Eat a meal consisting of protein and carbohydrates, or drink a protein and carbohydrate shake within 45 minutes of working out. According to the IDEA Health and Fitness Association, this helps enhance recovery, replenish used energy and accelerate muscle repair, and it may help promote human growth hormone release after exercise.
Avoid stress. Stressful situations -- including workouts that last more than one hour -- cause your body to release cortisol, according to the website Muscle & Strength. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that breaks down muscle. Get eight hours sleep a night. Adequate rest helps you build muscle, and Muscle & Strength notes that your cortisol levels are low and growth hormone levels are high when you are asleep.
Eat a diet that supplies energy and muscle-building nutrients. Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain rice, quinoa, sweet potatoes and yams, provide slow-release energy, and lean protein -- eggs, chicken, fish, lean cuts of red meat -- help build muscle. Include fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats, such as virgin olive oil and virgin coconut oil.
Things You'll Need
If you are new to exercise, do two to four cycles of the speed and recovery sequence of your intense cardio routine. Gradually increase your cycles as you get fitter and stronger.
- Sports Medicine: The Exercise-Induced Growth Hormone Response in Athletes
- IDEA Health and Fitness Association: The Buzz About Nutrient Timing
- Muscle & Strength: Are You Losing Muscle Because of Cortisol?
- American College of Sports Medicine: Physical Activity for Men With Osteoarthritis: Low Testosterone and Exercise in Men