In a society where appetites, waistlines, and meal portions are ever-increasing, it's easy to think that the best thing we can do is to get out and go for a run or long bike ride. But as a man, if that's all you're doing, you're putting at your body at risk for a number of health concerns including: decreased muscle mass, premature loss of hair, decreased bone density (especially with cyclists who do not experience the impact that stimulates bone growth), decreased sexual drive, inhibited reproductive function, anddecreased levels of red blood cells. The reason? Low testosterone. Studies reveal that testosterone levels in men who have engaged in endurance training for longer than one year are 60-85% lower than untrained, otherwise comparable men.
So what do we do, stop running and cycling?! Not at all, but it is important to vary the workouts. Studies have also shown that short, intense efforts as well as strength training can boost your testosterone levels. There are two easy ways to accomplish this:
- Add a few 15 second to 2 minute bursts of high-intensity riding/running followed by slightly longer periods of recovery 2-3 times a week.
- Instill a resistance training component to your workout regimen. Focus on low reps and higher weights which will create a higher intensity workout. Do not rest more than 1 minute between sets.
The internet is a great tool for finding workout regimens that incorporate weight training and intervals.
As with any new exercise, be sure to ease your way into either or both of these new pieces to the workout puzzle. If you are an experienced and conditioned rider/runner, the intervals will not be too difficult to adapt to, but you must make time for recovery. With the weight training, be sure to start with lighter weights before moving up into the recommended low rep/higher weight program. You must ensure that your muscles and neuromuscular system adapt to the new demands placed upon it, and that takes time.
If you testosterone levels are a concern, please consult your physician. Levels can be evaluated with a simple blood test, and there are many natural methods to boost levels, as well as ways to keep from prematurely lowering them.
Hackney, A.C. Testosterone and reproductive dysfunction in endurance-trained men. In: Encyclopedia of Sports Medicine and Science, T.D. Fahey (Editor). Internet Society for Sport Science: http://sportsci.org. 20 Sept 1998.