Testosterone for muscle gain: it works

Steroids used for athletics have two functions: androgenic and anabolic. Androgenic signifies that it increases male sexual characteristics, and anabolic that it builds muscle. Steroids are essentially testosterone mimics with qualities that athletes want, such as longer half-life, more potent anabolic effects, and so on.

How does testosterone itself perform in that regard? Pretty well.

In a study of testosterone replacement therapy in hypogonadal men – that is, they had low T – they had an average 20% gain in muscle mass over 6 months. In other words, huge. Even better, they also had a loss of fat mass of 11%.

So, maybe testoserone’s anabolic affects have an upper limit, that is, what about supraphysiologic doses in men who already have normal T? Yes, that works too: The Effects of Supraphysiologic Doses of Testosterone on Muscle Size and Strength in Normal Men. In this study, young men were given high doses of T, a 600 mg injection once weekly. They also did resistance training 3 days a week, and ate a diet with enough protein to support optimal muscle growth, 1.5 grams per kilogram body weight, or about 0.7 grams/lb.

Results: those in the T + exercise group gained 6 kg, or over 13 pounds, over 12 weeks, and it was all muscle. But to show the power of T: even those who did not lift weights gained 3.2 kg of muscle.

One lesson here is that if you’re having difficulties in the gym with putting on muscle, a test for your T level would seem to be in order, whether you’re young or old. Should your T levels be suboptimal, then comes the harder part: convincing your doctor to prescribe T for you. Granted, if you’re youngish and in good health, some other strategies may work for increasing T, such as fat loss, ensuring adequate zinc in your system, and certain posture exercises, as shown here. Weightlifting itself, as well as a HIT exercise program, also improve T levels, so keep at it.


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Jason Roberts says August 19, 2014

Heartiste has a story that suggests T may not be so important for muscularity as might be thought.

Mangan says August 19, 2014

Possible, but the studies do show that T adds lean mass. Not the whole story, sure.

Allan Folz says August 20, 2014

Heartiste was completely out of his element on that post, and it showed. He needs to stick to his knitting.

Dennis, have you seen Bigger, Stonger, Faster. It’s on Netflix. Pretty good capturing what steroids can and cannot do. They can allow one to pack-on otherwise unimaginable muscle mass. They cannot allow one to overcome the limitations of the frame endowed by one’s genes. Without the frame to carry the mass, there are limitations that cannot be overcome. Like a stuffing a 454 big block into a Chevette, without the frame of a Camaro… meh, it’s largely for naught.

Mangan says August 20, 2014

Allan, yes I’ve seen that movie, an extremely interesting one. One thing I took away from that was the hysteria surrounding steroids. re muscle mass, at the levels of mass put on in the above studies, we’re not even close to the levels in BSF.

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