Autor: markyoung

~ 09/05/11

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Last week I received a reader question on Facebook and since this seems to be a hot topic these days, I figured I’d share my answer here for those who are interested.

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Question:  “I’m curious to know your thoughts on the effects of low testosterone on the results I’m getting (or not getting) in the gym.  I’ve heard that testosterone levels decrease with age (I’m 35) and I’ve started taking a testosterone booster supplement.  Since then, I’ve noticed I’ve felt a difference.  What do you think about this stuff?”

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My Answer:  Whenever I get asked about this, it is usually the case that the person asking the question does not feel that their results are matching up with the effort they are putting in at the gym and in the kitchen.  When this is the case, there are usually 3 possibilities.

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Possibility #1 – The person’s expectations are too high

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They’ve been convinced by the media that results can happen much faster than they actually do (in people who aren’t using steroids).  With my clients I always have them set goals for 1 year from their start date so I have a clear picture where they want to end up.
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More often than not, I’m blown away by how unrealistic some people’s goals are…especially in terms of muscle gain.  There is a reasonable amount of muscle to expect for each year of training and I make sure clients know what this is so they’re not chasing some media driven ideal that is never going to happen and leave them frustrated.  In short, the longer you’ve trained…the less muscle you’re going to be able to gain so you have to be realistic.
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Possibility #2 - The plan they are using sucks!
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This happens about as often as (and frequently in combination with) the first one.  Frankly, a lot of people are completely misguided when it comes to exercise and nutrition.  They’re either not training properly, eating properly, or both.  And in many cases they have no record of what it is that their actually doing and no objective measures of progress at all.

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When this is the case, the person in question would be wise to hire someone smart (*hint hint*) to give them an objectively based plan or at least pick up a quality program and follow it to the letter.  If this sounds like you then I’d highly recommend Show and Go or Accelerated Muscular Development to get you on the right track.

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Note – I’ve promoted both of these product in the past and there has not been one return on either product!

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Possibility #3 - There is a true issue with testosterone
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I saved this one for last because I think that it is by far the least common of the 3 possibilities.  In fact, I think that too many fitness professionals are putting too much emphasis on this when it is the least likely cause of poor results.  Granted, it DOES happen, but I would argue that getting everything else straightened out in terms of diet and nutritition is a first priority.  After that, we can worry about sorting out such issues…if they indeed exist.

But if you insist on figuring this out now, a quick blood test conducted by your doctor will confirm whether there is or is not a problem. If testosterone levels are low, it can be treated by way of hormone replacement therapy.   If not, we know it is probably one of the first two possibilities and your plan probably isn’t as good as you think it is.  I should say though, that if you still have a libido (i.e., watching Jessica Alba on TV makes you need to have a cold shower) your testosterone levels are probably just fine.
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In terms of test boosting supplements, I think most are pretty much just a waste of money.  If you’re questioning taking one, simply go to PubMed and type in the “active” ingredient from your supplement and see if there is any research suggesting that it is worth taking.  In most cases, I think you’ll find the results are weak at best.  If you want to learn how to use PubMed and Read Research…that is another story altogether.  Fortunately, I heard a really smart guy created a product recently that teaches you to do just that.   :)

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Of course, if you’re noticing a difference it could be due to the placebo effect which leads us to believe something is working when there is actually nothing to suggest that it does actually do anything.

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So…you are either a victim of probability 1, 2, or 3.  Once you rule out three…it is only a matter of figuring out which of the other two is the case for you and taking action to correct it.  My guess is that this is where most people will find the problem whether they’re willing to admit it or not.

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2 Comments »

  1. [...] weight in the first place.  And, of course, there is the placebo effect that I mentioned here as well.  But most certainly, the main point you should take from this is that there is NO [...]

    Pingback by Mark Young Training Systems » » What to Eat to Lose Weight…and Zombies — May 15, 2011 @ 9:53 PM

  2. Nice stuff Mark. I think many do have unrealistic expectations, especially when the latest and greatest supplements are being promoted as “just this one pill will make you huge overnight.” Yeah right.

    The history of most compounds to increase testosterone is not very good at all, most showing to be worthless. Further adding to this argument is data (that you have discussed here) showing that ACUTE increases in test within a normal range do not appear to be optimal for muscle growth.

    There are a few newer compounds that in synergy, may be helpful. Not much published research in that area though.

    If people do want to try one, they need to do their research and set up their own experiment. If they can cough up the dough, I would highly recommend they work with a fitness professional and get blood work done on themselves through their doc. I am test driving (hahah, get it test is short for testosterone….anyway) one product now with blood work to see if there is any effect. N=1 of course, but I am more interested in me first! :)

    rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

    Comment by Mike T Nelson — May 17, 2011 @ 9:39 AM

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