As people, we are subjected to a lot of the same essential life-sustaining things. For example, we all need food and water to live, shelter to so we can rest, exercise to keep us healthy, and sex for satisfaction. This is common to most of us.
Bodybuilders on the other hand, well, let’s just say they’re not like most of us. They need more of virtually everything to sustain their lifestyle and again, this includes food, water, rest, and exercise. Specifically for us males, we need testosterone because this hormone is the essence of what makes us men. Bodybuilders, though? They’re not normal men. They’re MONSTER men and they need a whole lot more testosterone than most of us. But why is that? What is bodybuilding, anyway? I’m glad you asked.
WHAT IS BODYBUILDING?
Men and women share the same skeletal muscle build-up. However, us men are biologically designed to have more muscle bulk than our feminine counterparts. We also build muscle better than they do.
Don’t accuse me of being sexist though. I love women and I treat my wife as my equal. It’s just that we males evolved to be the bulkier sex. A big part of why this happens is because we males typically have 40-60% more testosterone than women.
In bodybuilding, maintaining healthy levels of testosterone, along with the regulation of other hormones, proper exercise routine, a balanced nutrition plan, and a healthy dose of sleep all contribute to an optimal internal environment for builder bigger muscles.
In terms of building muscle, our body has two metabolic states:
- Anabolism – This is where our bodies arrange organic compounds from simpler compounds to store energy.
- Catabolism – This, on the other hand, is the disintegration of those same organic compounds to release energy.
In simpler terms, anabolism is the state where our body “builds” while catabolism is the opposite in the sense that it “destroys“. Anabolism is where bodybuilders earn their money and this is exactly where they want to be most of the time because this metabolic state is where they get bigger. Over time though, it gets harder to stay in this metabolic state.
The Irony in Bodybuilding
Let me tell you a story that’s all too familiar with bodybuilders.
Once upon a time, a man decides to get in shape. He goes to his local gym and gets himself a membership card. He then proceeds to working out and executing the routine that the gym trainer gives him. After a few weeks, he then sees results. He feels stronger, more confident, and better overall. He gets addicted to these iron bars and before he even knows it, he decides to get a little more serious. The man cleans up his diet and modifies his lifestyle around bodybuilding.
When the man has already become massive, his obsession with lifting does not come to a halt. Instead, it intensifies and he wants to get even bigger so he lifts some more. He added more reps, sets, plates, and spent more hours at the gym.
To him and many bodybuilders, this should work to a certain degree. However, as the man packs on more plates on to his iron throne, he will notice that it will be harder to gain a pound of muscle.
Over time, as the bodybuilder does more, he’ll be getting lesser gains in return. This irony is a paradox that when left unchecked, could cause chronic mental and physical fatigue which can drive the body to a catabolic state. I’m not just saying this based on observation though. No, there’s an actual science that proves this.
According to this research, “there is a direct link between stress and the adrenal glands, and the physical stress of overtraining may cause the hormones produced in these glands to become depleted.” Moreover, the same study also sates that “Overtraining Syndrome (OS) has been described as chronic fatigue, burnout and staleness, where an imbalance between training/competition, versus recovery occurs.”
Fortunately, there are ways around it and the really serious bodybuilders know it. I mean, think about it. If there wasn’t a solution to this ironic paradox, we wouldn’t be seeing 200-400 pound man beasts gracing the rubber gym floor. One of these solutions is to boost testosterone.
TESTOSTERONE’S CONNECTION TO BODYBUILDING
I’ve already mentioned that testosterone plays a major part in building muscle. As such, natural testosterone boosting supplements are a hot commodity in serious and clean bodybuilding. The question now is, how does testosterone do its magic?
Increases Muscle Mass
Testosterone is the primary androgen found in skeletal muscle. Therefore, when testosterone decreases, muscle mass will follow suit. This is why testosterone is so important to bodybuilders because technically, they won’t be able to build muscle without testosterone.
Strictly in terms of promoting anabolism, testosterone can help by triggering protein synthesis, muscle regeneration, and increased growth factor.
Honestly, this isn’t quite true. With a rise in levels of testosterone, estrogen levels tend to go up, too. This is what makes hormonal regulation tricky. Messing with something triggers a chain reaction and before you know it, your hormones are all out of whack.
Fortunately though, a lot of testosterone boosting products include ingredients to limit this chain reaction, creating an internal environment that’s conducive to testosterone and anabolic muscle growth. To regulate estrogen, testosterone boosting supplements include aromatase inhibitors in their formula. By blocking aromatase activity, it prevents testosterone from converting to estrogen which then lowers overall estrogen.
Estrogen regulation is important to bodybuilding since excessive amounts of estrogen and aromatase lead to “girly” features such as man boobs.
As I’ve said, the irony in bodybuilding is that the athletes tend to do too much and get little gains in return. Also, the body perceives exercise as a stressor. Although some stress is required to trigger muscle growth, too much exercise is too much stress and too much stress means too much cortisol.
Cortisol and testosterone share an inversely proportional relationship. Therefore as cortisol goes up, testosterone takes a dip. Cortisol regulation is particularly important to bodybuilders and athletes because they’re the demographic who’s prone to stressing themselves into doing more reps, or lifting heavier, or spending more time at the gym, etcetera.
By regulating cortisol levels, bodybuilders can do more of their beloved muscle building while not worrying about the testosterone depleting effects of stress.
TESTOSTERONE BOOSTING INGREDIENTS FOR BODYBUILDING
This Ayurvedic herb is one of the most common ingredients you’ll see in men’s health supplements. This is because it doesn’t just boost testosterone, it also boosts libido and athletic health.
For testosterone, Fenugreek increases levels of “free” test by inhibiting aromatase activity thereby, decreasing levels of estrogen. This in itself already promotes an internal environment geared towards anabolic muscle growth. That’s not all, though. According to this study, supplementing with Fenugreek extract enhanced muscle recovery by 63%.
However, Fenugreek also increases “free” testosterone by blocking testosterone from converting into an even manlier hormone in dihydotestosterone (DHT). Although, testosterone is the primary androgen in skeletal muscles, DHT is more potent in virtually everywhere else.
One of the most potent natural testosterone boosters in today’s market. Like Fenugreek, Tongkat Ali also attacks masculine health via a number of different angles. It’s been used traditionally as a libido enhancer but it also holds promise in terms of bodybuilding and testosterone.
One study states that Tongkat Ali can raise levels of testosterone by 37% while also dragging down cortisol to as much as 16%. As a whole, that means more manliness and less stress. It also stimulates DHEA which is a precursor to testosterone and increases levels of “free” test by blocking the T-binding activities of SHBG and inhibiting aromatase activity.
ZMA is basically three parts divided into Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6. The original ZMA formula was made by Victor Conte – the founder of BALCO labs. It’s a great combination but BALCO labs didn’t use the best forms of these vitamins and minerals. As such, you can find many testosterone boosters that use this same trio but with better and more absorbable forms.
According to this study, ZMA has been found to increase muscle by 11.6% while increasing levels of testosterone by 30%. That’s good! However, another study reported that ZMA supplementation did not seem to enhance training adaptations in resistance trained participants.
Those studies may seem contradicting at first but there’s actually a theory that explains this. ZMA works on athletes who’re already deficient in Zinc, Magnesium, and Vitamin B6 to start with but does very little to those who aren’t. Given today’s generation relying heavily on fast food though, I believe ZMA should work for a majority of the population.
Often referred to as “Man Root”, Ginseng offers benefits to our manly characteristics. This ingredient is a legendary adaptogen that has it’s roots planted in traditional Chinese medicine. As an adaptogen, it can help our bodies fight the negative effects of stress – which makes it a great addition to testosterone boosters focused on bodybuilding. Also, by reducing stress, it might assist in raising healthy levels of testosterone.
Personally, I would suggest that you use Ginseng with other supplements that raise Nitric Oxide. By doing this, it enhances circulation and amplifies the muscle building effects of Ginseng.
Similar to Ginseng, Rhodiola Rhosea is an adaptogenic herb. This plant’s extreme adaptogenic value makes it an awesome herb for adjusting to stress and fatigue after a heavy bout of weight lifting.
As I’ve already mentioned numerous times earlier, bodybuilders can often fall victim to their own obsession. By doing too much at the gym, they risk stressing themselves out too much at the cost of lower levels of testosterone. Rhodiola Rhosea can help this case by maintaining post-workout levels of testosterone and protecting muscle and T from oxidative stress.
Additionally, this study found out that Rhodiola Rhosea has anti-estrogenic properties by metabolizing estriadol into weaker forms of estrogen.
OTHER “BODYBUILDING” INGREDIENTS TO WATCH OUT FOR
I say “bodybuilding” because these next ingredients are typically found in natural testosterone boosters geared towards improving athletic prowess. However, despite being common, they don’t actually work very well.
This is typically found in testosterone boosters to curb the side effects of elevated estrogen that comes with higher testosterone. In theory, that sounds really good. However, not all research on DIM are holding positive results which then adds another ironic twist to bodybuilding supplements.
For example, this study suggests that DIM does have anti-estrogenic properties. However, another study shows that higher doses of DIM had anti-androgenic effects. This is bad because testosterone is an androgen, too.
My advise is that if you do plan on using DIM, take it in moderation. More precisely, take just enough to get aromatase inhibition but not too much to decrease testosterone.
While Tribulus Terrestris isn’t as risky as DIM, it’s also another herb worth watching out for. It might actually be the most popular ingredient in testosterone boosters because it’s heavily marketed as an athletic/libido/testosterone enhancer. However, the only thing research suggests to be true is Tribulus Terrestris’ effects on libido. Let me show you.
According to this study, the Athletes who experienced the athletic improvements attributed to Tribulus Terrestris are merely caused by intensive advertising and “may only result in a temporary placebo effect.” If anything, I think this brings to light the power of belief that if you think it’ll work, you’ll experience it working too.
Furthermore, this study conducted on healthy young males states that “T. terrestris did not produce the large gains in strength or lean muscle mass that many manufacturers claim can be experienced within 5-28 days”.
Overall, Tribulus Terrestris might work for the older men who’re already deficient in testosterone and might also work for bodybuilding mainly because of how it was marketed. In terms of boosting libido though, Tribulus Terrestris is the real deal.
In the world of massive men where testosterone is of particular importance, many aspiring bodybuilders fall to the temptation of using steroids and prohormones. I urge you to be the stronger male and look away because while these might actually enhance anabolic growth, these two come with dangerous side effects and legality issues.
There is a safer option. Instead, opt for natural testosterone boosters. Compared to steroids and prohormones who use exogenous sources of testosterone, natural testosterone boosters use your own body’s biomechanisms to safely and naturally increase your manhood.
Also, forgive the shameless plug but you might also want to check the reviews section of this website. I’ve already analyzed quite a number of testosterone boosters and reading a few should help you find the right one for you.