Testosterone boosting is one of the most popular categories in sports nutrition. The big question on everyone’s mind is whether boosting testosterone to the “high normal” range will actually do anything for building mass or are you just going to enjoy the extra benefits alone? There are no real studies showing what testosterone levels are necessary to achieve muscle growth but we can look at the literature to decide whether you can gain mass with testosterone supplements or do you need to move to something harder?
TESTOSTERONE BOOSTING 101
There are a few ways to boost testosterone and they each have their own advantages and effects.
The most popular way to boost testosterone is to mimic the effects of LH and stimulate the testicles to produce more testosterone. This is the most common situation for supplements to impact the production of testosterone. There are three ways to impact the LH cascade
- Stimulate the pituitary to release more LH signaling the testes to make more testosterone
- Act like LH signaling the testes to make more testosterone
- Reduce estrogen to stop the feedback to the pituitary
As you can see there are three ways to impact the production of testosterone. Most supplements that “boost testosterone” fall into one of these three ways. You can quickly see though that “stacking” any of the three quickly runs out of gas. I always use the analogy that the testes are like an engine, but boosting LH via more than one pathway is the same as pushing harder on a gas pedal. At some point you hit the floor and no matter how hard you push it won’t produce more results.
Here is a chart of popular supplements and drugs for boosting testosterone and whether they are a 1,2 or 3 on how they impact the LH cascade:
DOES BOOSTING TESTOSTERONE BUILD MUSCLE
The short answer to this appears to be NO. Studies on popular aromatase inhibitors such as 6-OXO and Novedex XT show that boosting testosterone and reducing estrogen has no effect on building mass. Here is an excerpt from the 6-OXO study:
“For all of the serum hormones, there were no significant differences between groups (p > 0.05). Compared to baseline, free testosterone underwent overall increases of 90% for 300 mg 6-OXO and 84% for 600 mg, respectively (p < 0.05). DHT underwent significant overall increases (p < 0.05) of 192% and 265% with 300 mg and 600 mg, respectively. T/E increased 53% and 67% for 300 mg and 600 mg 6-OXO, respectively. For estrone, 300 mg produced an overall increase of 22%, whereas 600 mg caused a 52% increase (p < 0.05). Body composition did not change with supplementation (p > 0.05) and clinical safety markers were not adversely affected with ingestion of either supplement dose.”
It is possible that the reduction of estradiol reduces muscle growth or more likely that it requires you to boost testosterone to higher than normal ranges to get a body composition change from supplements. The only way to do that is steroids or prohormones…
Prohormones and testosterone injections seem to be the only way to get your testosterone levels to a point where it starts having a beneficial effect on muscle size. Testosterone boosters seem to reduce fat, which is great but they don’t seem to have a positive effect on muscle size.
The best prohormone for boosting testosterone is 4-Androstenolone or 4-DHEA. It’s best combined with an aromatase inhibitor like Arimistane which is found in our A-Dex product. You can build your own stack by taking A-Dex and Te and you should boost testosterone to higher than normal (above 1000ng/dl) which should give you actual muscle growth.