Are your testosterone levels low? You may be over-training

By Perrin Braun Apr 03, 2013

As an athlete, you work hard to improve your physical performance. But more training is not necessarily better training. Without enough rest and recovery, intense training regimens can actually backfire and compromise your ability to perform well. Exercise breaks down your muscles; rest stimulates growth and repair. The combination of too much exercise with too little recovery time can result in over-training syndrome. muscles


How can you tell if you are over-training? If you have a sudden drop in performance, feel fatigued, and have trouble sleeping, you may be over-training. Another indicator is the level of testosterone in your blood. Research has shown that repeated heavy endurance exercise without adequate rest can cause a significant decrease in testosterone. The InsideTracker Performance Plan analyzes 20 biomarkers including testosterone, and can show you whether you should consider adjusting your training load.

Learn how InsideTracker can help you optimize your testosterone levels and increase your physical performance!


How much testosterone do you need?

Testosterone is a steroid hormone that is present in the bodies of both men and women. In men, the testes produce testosterone. A man’s testosterone levels are highest in the late 30s, and then decrease by 1-2% each year. Women’s ovaries produce much smaller amounts of testosterone. 

While testosterone levels vary depending on age, sex, and fitness, these are general guidelines:

Men: 348-1197 ng/dL of total testosterone Women (18-49): 8-48 ng/dL Women (50+): 3-41 ng/dL

While your doctor will tell you whether your testosterone falls into these normal ranges, only InsideTracker takes into consideration your age, gender, ethnicity, lifestyle factors, type and amount of athletic activity to determine your optimal range for testosterone. If your testosterone is low, InsideTracker will recommend interventions to help you increase your levels, including lifestyle, training, and nutrition modifications.

Why is testosterone important for athletic performance?

Testosterone plays a key role in development and maintenance of both muscle mass and strength. Optimal levels of this hormone are necessary to create and preserve bone density.  Without enough testosterone, bones can become weaker and more likely to fracture or break. Testosterone also contributes to the body’s maintenance of energy levels, so this hormone can increase your energy during workouts and help improve your endurance. Finally, testosterone contributes to effective brain activity, including learning and memory skills, which is important for athletes who need to learn new plays and routines. So, if your testosterone levels are low, you might not be performing at your peak.

What are the symptoms of low testosterone?

In men, symptoms of a testosterone deficiency include diminished sex drive, decreased muscle mass, decreased muscle strength, reduced bone mass (potentially leading to osteoporosis), and increased body fat. While testosterone deficiency is typically considered to be a male problem, low levels can cause problems for women, too. Symptoms of low testosterone levels in women include hot flashes, irritability, loss of sexual desire, and sleep disturbances. Women may also experience loss of muscle mass, decreased bone density, and loss of body hair. In both sexes, low testosterone levels can have a profound impact on mood, so if you find it difficult to concentrate, and you’re tired and irritable, you may have low testosterone.

How can you improve your testosterone levels?

If your testosterone is low, there are natural ways to increase it. First, allow ample time for sleep and recovery. The length of your recovery period depends on the intensity and duration of your workouts, so listen to your body and adjust your training regimen accordingly. Your body also needs enough good-quality sleep to repair the damage that normally occurs in training.

Second, pay attention to your diet, especially your pre-workout meals and post-workout foods. Check your InsideTracker nutrition page for foods rich in the vitamins and minerals you need for optimal performance.

In addition to testosterone, inflammation and creatine kinase are also indicators of over-training. One of the most valid and reliable methods for assessing muscular damage is to check for increase in blood serum levels of creatine kinase, the primary enzyme regulating the metabolism of the muscle. Creatine kinase (CK) is located  inside healthy muscle cells, so even small amounts of CK in the blood mean that the muscle cells have been damaged. This can happen through strenuous exercise, so increases in blood levels of CK are one indicator of muscular trauma. Conversely, inflammation is your body’s way of removing damaged cells. Excessive exercise with inadequate amounts of rest can increase inflammation because your body has not properly healed between workouts.

If you suspect you are over-training, don’t keep pushing yourself. Sign up for an InsideTracker blood analysis to measure your testosterone – and get some rest.



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