A little while back I came across an interesting case study, or story if you will. It involved two men, with similar baseline testosterone levels, who decided to embark on different approaches to training in the gym.
Both men had diets that could be considered testosterone-friendly, slept well and were in their 30s. However, after 16 weeks, subject A could be visibly seen as having superior levels of musculature and was increasing maximal lifts in the gym week after week.
Subject B, on the other hand, while making progress is nowhere near the level of subject A, and is beginning to feel a little slighted.
What was the hidden secret behind subject A’s success, given that just a few weeks ago both subjects were virtually identical? His work out style was the answer.
Prioritize Large Muscle Groups Over Smaller Ones
The single variable that made the world of difference for subject A was his obsession with training muscles of the leg; quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves three times per week, while limiting accessory muscle groups such as abs and arms to just one day per week.
Subject B took a decidedly different approach, working to improve his “trouble areas”, or more specifically just chest, abdominals and arms.
However, focusing your workouts on smaller muscle groups will not yield the level of testosterone and growth hormone elevation that focusing on large muscle groups such as those of the legs and back can produce.
It all comes down to the extent of the damage incurred during your workout. In the gym, muscle tissue is actively broken down from the load borne by it, and from repeated muscular contraction under tension.
The muscles of the legs and back are the largest groups found in the body, with frequent workouts targeted on these areas likely to elicit the greatest post-workout hormonal surge. To sufficiently repair and recover for the subsequent workout, these important anabolic hormones will be increased in like manner to accommodate the degree of damage sustained during your workout.
A good analogy of this would be to consider what kind of project requires a larger labor force to accomplish; breaking down a house, or a singular wall? While you can get away with the same amount of labor in both cases, you can expect it to take a month or more if only two men tried to take down the house!
In the same way, a greater hormonal response is activated to initiate recovery for larger muscle groups.
Leg Workouts Help You Shed Fat
While fat loss is attractive, you may be thinking it is beyond the scope of you reading this article right now, but there is a reason for its inclusion on this list.
As you may recall from reading my other articles on the site, higher levels of body fat are associated with lower levels of circulating testosterone, owing to the effect fat has on it. In particular, fat cells should be considered factories for estrogen production, as the enzyme aromatase is produced within them, and accounts for the conversion of precious testosterone into this mainly troublesome hormone in men.
Men do need small amounts of estrogen for optimal health, but high levels will sabotage your testosterone levels, result in sexual dysfunction, development of gynecomastia and even a state of chronic estrogen dominance that does no favors for male health.
This is why leg workouts offer a unique double whammy for helping to increase testosterone. Coupled with the direct hormonal surge post workout, and increased lipolysis and fatty acid utilization, the result is a more muscular, leaner body with greater levels of free testosterone.
A Simple Testosterone Boosting Leg Work Out
While it’s great knowing that leg workouts can boost testosterone more than a workout consisting of arms and abdominals, it doesn’t give you the license to have a subpar workout. You still need to go balls to the walls with high-intensity movements. Thus, this means not focusing on machine leg extensions, but rather heavy compound movements.
A great leg work out that we leave you spent time and time again will look something like this –
Four working sets of between 6 to 12 reps. It is important that you choose a sufficiently heavy weight that does not allow you to perform more than two additional reps outside of range prescribed. On your last set (set 4) you should increase the weight slightly so that you fail in the 6 to 8 rep range.
The leg press machine is excellent for helping you to develop the muscles of the vastus medialis, which is responsible for that outer thigh sweep indicative of powerful legs. While it is possible to overload the leg press machine heavily, you should let logic prevail, and ensure that the weight you choose allows a full range of motion and not a lame 2-3 inches of movement per rep. Perform 3 to 4 working sets of 8 to 12 reps for best results.
Stiff Legged Deadlifts
These primarily emphasize muscles of the hamstrings and to a lesser extent glutes, as the motion mimics raising a load off of the floor while keeping your legs fairly stationary. A slight bend at the knees is acceptable, given that you do not straighten it too much and recruit muscles of the quadriceps. Four working sets of 8 to 12 reps each are excellent to fatigue this muscle.
Seated/Standing Calf Raises
These two exercises target two different part of the calves, one that gives it dimension from the sides, and the other while viewing from the front. You should alternate workouts by choosing one or the other. Four sets with higher volume; in the 20 to 30 rep range is best for adequate stimulation of these muscles.
Do Leg Workouts Increase Testosterone – The Verdict
Yes, an intense leg work out will 100% (maybe more!) increase testosterone levels, especially if performed consistently. It is important to note that your post-workout testosterone levels will be much higher than your levels while at rest, so don’t be discouraged by natural variation.
Regardless, placing your focus on larger muscle groups, combined with a smart diet plan is a great way to get your testosterone values back on track, and improve your overall health.