I believe that it’s an undeniable fact that mass is and always will be a part of bodybuilding. It isn’t the only criteria, obviously, but as far back as I remember, the point of the sport was to build the proverbial “perfect” physique. A huge part of that is putting on pounds and pounds of muscle mass on all the right places.
However, as you may have noticed, our muscles seem to have a limit to how much they can grow. That’s where testosterone boosters come in. In this article, I will show you what I believe are the best T-boosters for mass. Moreover, I will also explain the relationship between testosterone and muscle as well as a few tips and tricks to help you find what YOU think is best. So, are you ready? Let’s go!
IS TESTOSTERONE ACTUALLY NEEDED TO GROW MUSCLE?
As you might already know, androgens are the steroid hormones that are responsible for developing our manly characteristics like deep voices, high libido, heavy bone structures, and of course, muscle mass and strength. Moreover, men also have significantly more androgens than women. Hence, why they’re called “male” hormones.
Among all these androgens, however, testosterone reigns supreme when it comes to developing skeletal muscle tissue. So, to answer the question: YES, you do need testosterone to grow bigger and stronger muscles. Without T, it’s simply too hard, if not impossible to achieve muscle hypertrophy. So…
HOW DOES TESTOSTERONE INCREASE MUSCLE MASS?
To quote a study from The Gerontological Society of America, “testosterone improves net muscle protein balance by stimulating muscle protein synthesis, decreasing muscle protein degradation, and improving the reutilization of amino acids.” All this happens when “free” testosterone interacts with the androgen receptors found in your muscles.
But you probably already knew that, didn’t you? What you probably didn’t know, however, is that…
Testosterone might also be involved in muscle growth on a more cellular level
Specifically, your satellite cells. These cells are precursors to muscle cells and they can either add myonuclei to your muscle fibers or remain dormant. Theoretically, when a person has more myonuclei in his/her muscles, the easier it will be to increase muscle mass and strength. To me, this explains how different people grow muscle at different rates.
What does this have to do with testosterone, you ask?
Well, as research suggests, your muscle satellite cells increase in number with testosterone administration which then leads to a greater number of myonuclei. On the other hand, another research says that “low testosterone levels could reduce the differentiation of satellite cells to myonuclei“.
Therefore, higher levels of testosterone levels will promote your satellite cells to add more myonuclei into your muscles which, ultimately, will help them grow – along with adequate training, of course.
Unfortunately though, your testosterone levels go down by about 1% per year starting at around 30 years old
As far as I know, this doesn’t necessarily lower the amount of myonuclei you’ve stored in your muscles but with less testosterone to interact with androgen receptors, this will reduce the work of testosterone on protein (synthesis and degradation) and amino acids, ultimately slowing down muscle growth while also making it harder to keep muscle mass.
That being said, young dudes can enjoy the muscle building effects of higher testosterone, too. Like I’ve already mentioned, higher testosterone levels can lead to a growth in myonuclei and can facilitate protein synthesis.
This is where testosterone boosters come into play.
From where I’m standing, increasing testosterone for bodybuilding is mostly associated with steroid use. Truthfully, anabolic steroids and prohormones can and will increase testosterone levels on a MASSIVE scale which is also why they’re effects on muscle growth are so dramatic. However, because of the synthetic nature of these substances, they also come with greater, sometimes deadly risks, especially when abused or not taken the right way.
Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not condemning bodybuilders who are on steroids. What I’m trying to say though is that it’s way safer if you just naturally boost your testosterone, which brings us to the next part of this article.
WHAT SHOULD MEN LOOK FOR IN A T-BOOSTER IF HE WANTS TO BUILD MORE MASS?
I believe supplement companies have taken notice of men and women who want to get bigger without resorting to steroids. Thus, the increased production of natural testosterone boosters. From my experience writing reviews, the 2018 market for T-boosters has grown considerably compared to the past years.
This is both good and bad. Good because we, the consumers, have literally hundreds if not thousands of choices. On the other hand, the bad side to this is a growth in weak, or worse, ineffective supplements.
Having said that, I believe the best T-boosters for mass should focus on these benefits:
- Robust protein synthesis and amino acid acid utilization
- Satellite cell differentiation into myonuclei
- Improve physical performance
Of course, other related benefits such as stronger bones and laser focus are always welcome. For the purpose of stacking pounds over pounds of muscle mass, however, I think the benefits I’ve listed should be the bread and butter.
WHAT FEATURES SHOULD T-BOOSTERS FOR MASS HAVE?
Like I said, there are plenty of testosterone boosters out there to choose from – some good, some bad. Among the good ones, however, are different variations that are designed to be effective for different things. That being said, here is where I’ll show you what I think you should be looking for if you truly wanted to experience the benefits that will help you grow more mass. Let’s start with the most obvious.
POWERFUL TEST BOOSTS
This should be basic for any testosterone booster. After all, what good is a supplement that doesn’t do its primary function, right? When it comes to building mass, a good boost in testosterone will also set your body up for growth.
That being said, powerful testosterone boosters are few and far between compared to the number of duds you’re likely going to encounter in your search. A key to finding them though is ensuring that it uses ingredients that are not only powerful, but also essential to testosterone production. For example:
- D-Aspartic Acid (DAA) – There’s research that shows DAA boosting testosterone by 42% in just 12 days. As far as I know, that makes it THE most powerful T booster known today.
- Tongkat Ali – Per research, this herb can boost testosterone by 37% while also decreasing cortisol by 16% in moderately stressed men and women. This not only makes it a strong T booster, it also makes it specifically great for building muscle mass – I’ll explain why later.
- Ashwagandha – Like Tongkat Ali, Ashwagandha helps lower levels of cortisol. Furthermore, it can also boost T (17%) and improve power, velocity, and stamina.
- Boron – If you want a testosterone booster that works fast, look no further than Boron. As research shows, it can significantly boost “free” T in just 7 days. Incredible!
- Vitamin D – Higher levels of vitamin D have been associated with higher levels of testosterone. The reason behind it, however, has yet to be fully understood but if one thing’s certain, it’s that this vitamin is essential to T.
- Vitamin B6 – Similar to the previous vitamin, levels of this vitamin seem linear to testosterone concentrations.
- Zinc – This mineral acts as a raw material for testosterone production. Simply said, no Zinc = no T.
SUSTAINED TESTOSTERONE PRODUCTION
In my opinion, this should go hand-in-hand with powerful testosterone boosting. I mean, after you’ve elevated your testosterone levels, the next logical step would be to make sure it stays elevated – am I right? Yeah, exactly.
As such, I urge you to look for a testosterone booster that finds ways to make sure that your testosterone stays inside your system. One of the best ways to do this, I believe, is to keep it from becoming other hormones such as estrogen and DHT. Let’s talk about those two real quick.
Ahh, yes – androgens’ female counterpart. Despite being known as the “female hormone”, however, we men also have estrogen in our system and we do need a little bit of it for a healthy hormonal balance.
That being said, an increase in testosterone will almost always be accompanied by a rise in estrogen thanks to the aromatase enzyme. When you have too much of it, however, fat becomes harder to burn and muscle growth becomes slower.
By limiting aromatase activity, you not only limit the estrogen you have, you end up with more T and possible gain more lean muscle mass, too. These ingredients can help:
- Diindolylmethane (DIM) – There are plenty of studies that support this compound’s aromatase-inhibitting properties. Unfortunately though, most of those studies are focused on women and the elderly.
- Luteolin – Unlike DIM, Luteolin is relatively less researched but with what it already has, I think it holds more potential especially for men. Personally, I think this is the way to go.
Like testosterone, DHT is also a strong androgen. In fact, it has 2-3 times greater affinity to bind with androgen receptors compared to testosterone and remains bonded for 5 times longer. This, at most, makes it 10-folds more potent than T. Moreover, T transforms into DHT through the 5-alpha-reductase (5AR) enzyme.
Now, you might be asking: “if it’s that strong, why should we stop T from becoming DHT?”
Indeed. Well, DHT might generally be the more potent androgen but when it comes to skeletal muscle, testosterone still reigns supreme. Furthermore, its extreme potency can actually put older people who’ve grown overly sensitive to androgens at risk for balding and prostate issues. So, if building mass is your sole purpose for increasing T, inhibiting the 5AR enzyme is one way to make sure you maintain higher testosterone. Take a look at these ingredients:
- Stinging Nettle and Saw Palmetto – Both these plants are used as remedies for benign prostate hyperplasia thanks to their ability to inhibit the 5AR enzyme and decrease levels of DHT. SPOILER ALERT! There’s more to Stinging Nettle but more on this later.
- Fenugreek – This herb is perhaps one of the more versatile ingredients used in testosterone boosters. Not only does it reduce levels of DHT while boosting “free” testosterone, it also amplifies muscle strength and sex drive as well as reduce levels of estrogen.
Aside from limiting testosterone’s conversion to either estrogen and/or DHT, there are other hormones and substances that the best T-boosters for mass can regulate to ensure sustained levels of high testosterone. Let’s move on to those, starting with we’ve already touched on:
Remember when I said Ashwagandha and Tongkat Ali are both great for building mass because they lower cortisol while also increasing testosterone? Well, as it turns out, there’s a whole group of herbs that do just that. They’re called adaptogens.
Adaptogens basically help your body adapt to stress. And, Cortisol, being the main stress hormone, is also reduced by these herbs. This is important when building mass because cortisol can tilt your metabolism towards the destruction of proteins (catabolism) rather than the synthesis of proteins (anabolism). This, obviously, slows down muscle growth.
As such, I suggest you look for adaptogens the next time you shop for testosterone boosters. Aside from Ashwgandha and Tongkat Ali, here are a couple more good ones:
- Rhodiola Rosea – Coming from the harsh mountains of Siberia, this herb can make any man who takes it so resistant to stress, he doesn’t experience a change in cortisol and testosterone even in times of turmoil.
- Panax (Asian/Red) Ginseng and Siberian Ginseng – Although both are labeled “ginseng”, they actually come from different families. Nonetheless, they have similar benefits with regards to how they can help fight stress and fatigue.
SEX HORMONE-BINDING GLOBULIN (SHBG)
Unlike estrogen, DHT, and cortisol, SHBG isn’t a hormone. Rather, it’s a glycoprotein that binds to sex hormones (i.e., androgens and estrogens). Specifically regarding testosterone, an SHBG-bound T molecule is rendered unavailable to interact with androgen receptors which, ultimately, makes it useless.
To make sure that your testosterone is “free” to synthesize protein and store myonuclei, keep an eye out for SHBG-inhibitors, such as:
- Stinging Nettle – I told you there was more to this herb, didn’t I? As it turns out, Stinging Nettle has lignans that bind to SHBG which prevents it from imprisoning T.
- Magnesium – This mineral doesn’t necessarily block SHBG from binding to testosterone. Rather, it weakens the bond between them which results in more “free” test.
ELEVATED PHYSICAL PERFORMANCE
Assuming you’ve found yourself a supplement that can sustain powerful testosterone boosts, I believe the next feature you should look for is one that allows you to push yourself harder at the gym. I’m pretty sure you know this already but through intense training, you give your muscles a good chunk of mechanical strain and force it to grow.
This, then, goes alongside the upgraded protein synthesis and myonuclei storage you have from higher levels of T. Fortunately for you though, some of the ingredients I’ve already mentioned also have benefits to physical performance, meaning there’s less stuff to remember. For example:
- Zinc – This mineral prevents the drop in testosterone that happens after exercise which, according to research, may make it beneficial for performance.
- Magnesium – Involved in over 300 enzymatic/metabolic reactions. A few of them include energy production, bone development, nerve conduction, muscle contraction, and protein synthesis.
- Fenugreek and Ashwgandha – Again, these herbs can influence strength and power along with their benefits on T and anabolism.
- Ginseng – These herbs have been known for their positive effects on energy
While these ingredients all have the potential to simultaneously boost T and physical performance, some testosterone boosters designed for muscle mass may include performance enhancing ingredients that don’t necessarily increase test. For instance, there’s L-Arginine and Creatine – two of the most popular products in the bodybuilding industry.
Personally, I think having them in a T booster’s formula is fine just as long as increasing testosterone is still the primary focus.
RECAP: THE BEST T-BOOSTERS FOR MASS
|T-Booster Supplement||My Review||Website|
|#1 – TestoFuel||My Review||www.testofuel.com|
|#2 – Performance Lab SPORT T-Booster||My Review||www.performancelab.com|
|#3 – EVL Test||My Review||www.evlnutrition.com|
|#4 – Quantum T||My Review||www.mtheorysupplements.com|
|#5 – Prime Male||My Review||www.primemale.com|
So we’ve finally arrived at the end. Hopefully, this guide provided the help that you needed to go and look for the best T-boosters for mass.
Just to give you a little summary, increasing testosterone levels can:
- Stimulate muscle protein synthesis
- Reduce muscle protein degradation
- Improve the reutilization of amino acids
- Add myonuclei to muscle fibers
Along with right training and proper nutrition, these testosterone-related effects can effectively help you gain muscle mass safely and naturally. That being said, do analyze the formula of whatever T-booster you’re eyeing and make sure its features are designed specifically to help you grow muscle. If analyzing supplements is still a bit too hard though, that’s okay. I’ve written plenty of reviews and there’s a good chance that I’ve already inspected that supplement for you.