Working Out the Workout Details: Part II
In the last post, I reviewed the (boring) definitions of exercise selection, order, sets, reps, rest, and intensity. This time, I’ll cover the (exciting) way these variables can affect testosterone and how to structure your workouts to maximize the anabolic effects.
I know you’ve been suffering in anticipation, so let’s dive right in.
Exercise selection – Choose exercises that train multiple muscle groups
Multi-joint, compound movements that work several muscle groups will result in the greatest amount of testosterone as well as the greatest increases in strength and hypertrophy. Testosterone friendly exercises include:
- Squat – back and front (but mostly back)
- Deadlift – conventional and Romanian
- Snatch variations
- Clean variations
- Overhead press
- Row variations
- Pull up/Chin up
- Bench press
Exercises performed with free weights or machines will both elicit a testosterone response (assuming that you use enough weight), but we recommend free weights because of their many other benefits. You can still perform biceps curls, leg extensions, and other isolation movements, but the above exercises should make up the bulk of your training.
Exercise order – Perform multi-joint, compound exercises first
As I mentioned last time, exercise order is often overlooked or ignored, but is extremely important. Not only should squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, etc. make up the bulk of your training, they should also go first in your training. Doing so will ensure that you can use maximum effort (better results) and optimal technique (fewer injuries), and that you spend the majority of your time in the gym doing exercises that give you the greatest results (time efficiency).
Sets, Reps, and Intensity – Not too much, but not too little
These three variables are usually lumped together as volume (sets x reps x intensity) due to the fact that they are interrelated. In general, more volume results in more testosterone with the caveat that at some point overtraining can occur. In studies that have shown a volume-testosterone relationship (in full disclosure, not all of them have), higher volume bodybuilding-type training programs (i.e., 4-6 sets of 8-10 reps with a 10-12RM) have resulted in the greatest amounts of testosterone.
Rest – Shorter is better
Unless you’re doing maximal strength training or testing your 1RM, lengthy rest periods (3 minutes or more) aren’t necessary. In fact, when intensity is kept constant, reducing rest periods can increase post-exercise testosterone output. Most guys in the gym could do themselves a huge service by spending less time talking and gawking and more time lifting.
Rest between training sessions is also important, and the amount of time you need to recover will depend on training volume, duration, experience, and other stress factors (like having a baby, losing your job, etc.). In general, you should wait 48 hours before training a muscle group again, and you shouldn’t lift weights more than 2 consecutive days. Popular and effective training splits include M/W/F and M/Tu/Th/F depending on how you split up movements/muscle groups.
In the last six weeks, I’ve thrown a lot of information at you. I hope you’ve been able to follow along and utilize at least one or two of the strategies I’ve covered. If not or if you’re lost or confused, make sure to check out next week’s email where I’ll lay out a sample day demonstrating how to implement many of these strategies.