There are numerous testosterone boosters on the market today ranging from herbs to amino acids like DAA and even the old Novedex XT is back on the market. Unfortunately, when combined with proper diet and exercise none of these have been shown to increase muscle mass with proper diet and exercise.
Testosterone is the body’s main hormone for building muscle. It works by activating the process of transcription that ultimately ends in new protein synthesis called “hypertrophy” and also the generation of new muscles which is called hyperplasia.
Hypertrophy is the process of filling the muscle cells with new protein strands that then contract when activated. This process is a combination of nutrient balance (the right amount of protein) along with overloading the muscle cells which stimulates further production (exercise).
Hyperplasia is the process of creating new muscle cells from myotubules (satellite cells that turn into muscle). The immature cells specialize and turn into muscle cells which then have to be filled with hypertrophy.
Testosterone stimulates both processes, but it seems to have a threshold for it to actually have an effect. The average male has roughly 300-1000 ng/dl of testosterone in their system which is actually a very large range. As seen in studies, males can get to the 1200-1300 ng/dl range naturally which should be high enough to make a difference…
Unfortunately, it doesn’t!
WHY NO MASS?
So, why if we can boost testosterone to such levels is it making a difference? The answer seems to be “no”. Studies on aromatase inhibitors like ATD and 6-OXO show marked increases in testosterone but no increases in muscle mass. The best effect we see is a reduction in fat mass, which is good but hardly what most weightlifters want.
According to the Novedex XT study by Willoughby:
“Novedex XT resulted in average increases of 283%, 625%, 566%, and 438% for total testosterone (P=0.001), free testosterone (P=0.001), dihydrotestosterone (P=0.001), and the testosterone:estrogen ratio (P=0.001), respectively, whereas fat mass decreased 3.5% (P=0.026) during supplementation. No significant differences were observed in blood and urinary clinical safety markers or for any of the other serum hormones (P>0.05). This study indicates that Novedex XT significantly increases serum androgen levels and decreases fat mass.”
So, we see amazing increases in testosterone and yet zero muscle mass gains. Similar studies for other aromatase inhibitors which sort of defeats the purpose of using testosterone boosters. High testosterone has numerous health benefits but for most men, they want the gains.
These results are from the best in the class of testosterone boosters, while most herbal testosterone boosting agents are significantly less effective and well studied. The point is that boosting testosterone may do great things for your sex drive and fat loss but likely to not build additional muscle.
Legal prohormones don’t have any activity on their own but do convert into the hormones that our body needs to build muscle. 1-DHEA for example was shown to assist in losing fat and gaining mass when coupled with a good diet and exercise program. The well trained young men gained roughly 9.5lbs and lost significant fat mass at a 330mg dose. Remember this was the average, so some men gained more and others gained less.
Men also did have altered lipid profiles but the supplement did not negatively effect mood or “anger” which is the main reason steroids are villianized and perceived depression was positively effected. Anything that decreases depression and increases mood is a good thing.
The lesson here is that simply boosting testosterone isn’t going to give you the mass gains you desire. Congress exempted certain hormones for adults to use like DHEA and Progestins, so we may as take advantage of them while they are still legal to use!