21-Day Testosterone Boosting Workout Plan

What is Testosterone?

1: a hormone that is a hydroxy steroid ketone C19H28O2 produced especially by the testes or made synthetically and that is responsible for inducing and maintaining male secondary sex characters

Merrium-Webster

Well….despite that super confusing definition I think I can effectively explain testosterone. Testosterone is a steroid hormone that is naturally produced by the human body (Yes! Your body makes steroids!  Several varieties too).  

What testosterone is most noted for is development of male sex characteristics; like testicles, prostate, increased bone mass, body hair and oh yeah, BIG MUSCLES!! Aside from things we can see, testosterone does a host of other great things for all of us, man or woman, including; increase in metabolism, better muscular performance, proper growth & development and yes, sex drive too.  

Back to testosterone being a steroid…..A steroid that is naturally produced by your body, and specifically your testicles do the magic here. Prior to the testicles there is an entire cascade of events. Way up in your brain your hypothalamus tells your pituitary gland to its time to get to work. The pituitary sends two hormones, follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) & luteinizing hormone (LH), down to the testicles via the bloodstream. Upon arrival it is LH that stimulates specialized cells within the testicles to make testosterone. In the meantime, FSH kicks off sperm production.

Now that the testicles received the message to go to work these specialized cells (Leydig cells) actually convert cholesterol into testosterone.

That is right, CHOLESTEROL! Turns out the stuff isn’t bad for you, but actually necessary for all sorts of bodily functions. Don’t believe me, check out Dr. David Perlmutter’s book; Grain Brain for the hard facts.

Testosterone is very important in both men & women. Although we typically think of testosterone as being specifically a male hormone that gives men big muscles and bad attitudes, it’s vital for health in women too, especially if they want big muscles & bad attitudes….Joking! In women, testosterone helps with cognitive function, musculoskeletal health and helps avoid things like cancer & other health concerns.

Okay, enough background. Let’s get to what you came for. How to get more testosterone naturally and quickly with testosterone boosting exercises!

The 21-Day Testosterone Workout Plan

A theory based on research

It’s easy to throw some exercises together and call it a good plan, heck, you might even sweat. But to really put together a quality plan will take a little more effort. Every exercise, set, rep and rest period has been researched to help maximize results. I hope you find your inner man during this program & get a testosterone explosion with these testosterone boosting workouts!

Let’s be real for a minute. This program will have you going in the right direction, and you may see measurable gains in your testosterone levels, but it is NOT the answer for low T. Consistent exercise and a healthy lifestyle will naturally raise your testosterone levels and keep them up.  Start with this program, then continue on to other great programs listed on this site.  We will also be releasing an “Eating for Testosterone Meal Planning Guide” in the near future.  That too will keep you on the right track.  

Warning! Although I am a doctor, I am not your doctor. I do not know your limitations, I do not know anything about you other than you might be interested in increasing your testosterone levels and getting a good workout. Please, before you jump into this program, have your doctor examine you and assure that you are physically capable of performing the exercises within this 21-Day Testosterone workout Plan.

Take Note

You will notice there are a lot of BIG movements and not many “pretty” movements. That’s because big movements work big muscles hard and stimulate growth and the need for more testosterone. Pretty movements don’t stimulate growth. These testosterone boosting exercises mostly fall into the “compound movement” category, meaning the movement/exercise has multiple joints moving throughout the motion. It is these compound movements that stimulate the most testosterone production (Hansen, et al)

Another thing you will notice about this program; you will be doing a lot of sets using BIG weights, this equals BIG volume. The more volume you force into your workout, the more testosterone you will produce (Gotshalk, Lincoln Allan, et al.)   Lots of heavy sets coming your way and this means lots of hard work with these exercises to increase testosterone.

Why the specific muscle group pairings? I paired muscles based on the principal of reciprocal inhibition.

Reciprocal Inhibition is a neurological adaptation your body makes so when you flex one muscle, the opposing muscle shuts down. Example; when you flex your bicep you cannot also flex your tricep. The nervous system intelligently shuts down the tricep and so the bicep can do it’s thing. In doing this the triceps also receive an active stretch, bonus!

By pairing muscles this way it will actually make you stronger on your subsequent sets. Example: doing a heavy chest press set, then doing biceps will actively rest & stretch your triceps. Triceps are your secondary muscle group for your chest press.  When you return for the next set of chest press your triceps will kick in more, allowing you to push a little more!

All of the sets in the program will be grouped into supersets. Supersets are when you do a set of one exercise and immediately move to the next exercise with no rest aside from the time of transition. This is to keep the intensity high. Similar to a true HIIT session, you have your heavy work, then do a milder exercise as an active rest and repeat. In this case, there will often be three exercises combined into sets.

Some of these exercises aren’t, well….Exercises? That is correct. Some of the supersets will be with preventative exercises to help you avoid injury during this intense program. As well, there is foam rolling, stretching, warm-ups and cool downs to do the same; avoid injury and assure your best performance.

Long cardio sessions?? How about NO! Long cardio sessions actually decrease testosterone levels (Kuoppasalmi, K., et al.)  YES! Decrease! Compare an Olympic marathoner to an Olympic sprinter.

A distance athlete is “skinny fat” and cannot gain muscle. Whereas the explosive athlete is ripped! Per the previously mentioned study, you will wind up with lower testosterone post long distance running. Lower testosterone equals more fat and less muscle. And more fat means more estrogen. Not the goal!

As a result; cardio during this program will be doing sprint work of one kind or another. Don’t fear if running sprints isn’t your thing, stair sprints, bike sprints, swim sprints can all count too. Running sprints of course would be preferred though.

Heavy weight lifting is the absolute best thing, but you can’t do that seven days a week or even five. So, for days you’re not lifting or resting you will be doing high intensity cardiovascular work. High intensity cardio work also has been shown to increase testosterone levels (A. Tanner et al).

Rest will also be a crucial piece to the testosterone building puzzle. If you over train you will actually end up decreasing your testosterone levels (F. Maso et al.) Please respect the rest days and actually take them. Do the stretching and recovery items listed. DO NOT sneak in an extra workout. Again, this will harm your testosterone levels.

That being said about rest, there will be little rest during the actual workouts. The workouts will not be about going to absolute failure with each set, as that itself can also hurt testosterone levels (Shrier, I). Rather, the workout is designed with supersets of exercises to increase testosterone so the intensity stays up, but the working muscles get to rest.

In addition, this program is designed for someone who is already exercising. If you have never exercised before, or don’t regularly exercise, please take it easy with this program as overtraining can happen fairly quick. See below for a daily questionnaire on overtraining. If it says your over trained, add in an extra day of rest. One more helpful tip is using heart rate variability. This is a very accurate and objective way to find proper training intensities by directly measuring strain on your autonomic nervous system (the master controller of your body). There are great apps you can use for this such as Apple Health, EliteHRV and HRV4training.

Modifications to the program:

If you need to modify for the program for any reason, that is fine.  Just do your best to replace the testosterone boosting exercises with something similar.  For example; if the exercise is Barbell chest press and you only have dumbbells, just do dumbbell chest press, even if you did dumbbell press the prior week.  Do not replace barbell chest press with flys. That is not equivalent, even though it still works the chest, flys are not a power movement.  

If you are unable to do a testosterone boosting exercise due to injury or lack of experience, please, replace it with something working the same muscle group that you are more comfortable with. Example; if you’re not comfortable with power cleans, just do something like front squats or barbell lunges.

Too easy? Modify the exercise to increase intensity. Example; with the dead bug exercise, if moving the arms and legs is no problem while maintaining core engagement, add weights to your hands.

Exercises

I imagine not everyone will be familiar with every exercise. Most exercise in this testosterone workout have a link to instructions with videos on how to perform it. The exception is exercises like pushups or chin-ups that most people understand. Please, watch all the videos prior to beginning the program, not during. That really cuts into the intensity.

A note on nutrition:  It is VERY important to supply your body with high quality foods during this time and really all the time; but especially if your trying to increase testosterone levels. There are foods that will kill testosterone and foods that will help.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Avoid Sugar, including high fructose corn syrup & all its evil aliases – check labels!
  • Avoid Soy – Again check labels
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Eat grass fed meat only
  • Eat wild caught fish only
  • Eat free range, organic eggs only
  • Eat organic fruits & vegetables as often as possible
  • Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day ex. 200lb man = drink 100oz of water each day

A note on Sleep:  If you don’t sleep, your body will not perform. Lack of sleep actually lowers testosterone levels (Knutson KL). We also know lack of sleep will lower libido, cognitive function and increase your risk for an array of health problems. During this testosterone boosting workout program, make sleep a priority so your body can repair and grow.

Here are some quick tips:

  • Make your room as dark as possible or get black-out curtains.
  • Use a white noise-machine
  • Place cell phones & other electronics in a different room so they won’t disturb you
  • Set the temperature to be cool, yet comfortable.

The 21-Day Testosterone Boosting Workout

Day 1: Leg Heavy Testosterone Lifts

ExerciseSets RepsTempoRest
Barbell Clean4-53-51-0-1Superset 1
Dead Bug Variation4-58-103-1-3Superset 1
Barbell Squat4-53-51-0-1Superset 2
Upright Row4-56-81-0-1Superset 2
Plank Variation 4-58-103-1-3Superset 2
Barbell Deadlift4-53-51-0-1Superset 3
Lateral Raise4-56-81-0-1Superset 3
Pec SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 3
Jump Squats with Dumbbells4Failure1-0-1Superset 4
Back SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 4

Day 2: Sprinting for Testosterone

ExerciseSets RepsTempoRest
Sprint for 100-200 meters10-20N/AAs fast as possible90-120 Seconds

Day 3: Resting for Testosterone

EAT GOOD FOOD, SLEEP, DRINK LOTS OF WATER. A mild walk is fine and may help with muscle soreness too.

Day 4: Chest & Biceps for Testosterone

ExerciseSets RepsTempoRest
Flat Barbell Press4-53-51-0-1Superset 1
Barbell Curls4-55-81-0-1Superset 1
Left Side Plank Variation4-58-103-1-3Superset 1
Incline Barbell Press4-53-51-0-1Superset 2
Barbell Preacher Curl4-56-81-0-1Superset 2
Right Side Plank Variation4-58-103-1-3Superset 2
Decline Barbell Press4-53-51-0-1Superset 3
Hamstrings SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 3
Explosive Push-ups4Failure1-0-1Superset 4
Calves SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 4
Quadriceps SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 4

Day 5: Back & Triceps for Testosterone

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
Underhand Barbell Row4-53-51-0-1Superset 1
Barbell Skull Crusher 4-56-81-0-1Superset 1
Superman4-58-103-1-3Superset 1
Overhand Barbell Row4-53-51-0-1Superset 2
Close Grip Bench Press4-56-81-0-1Superset 2
Rotator Cuff External by side 4-58-10/side3-1-3Superset 2
Barbell Collar Rows4-53-51-0-1Superset 3
Bench Dips4-56-81-0-1Superset 3
Rotator Cuff Internal by side4-58-10/side3-1-3Superset 3
Explosive Chin-Ups4Failure1-0-1Superset 4
Sword Pulls48-103-1-3Superset 4

 Day 6: Climbing for Testosterone

ExerciseSets TimeTempoRest
Stair Climbing10-2020-30 SecondsAs fast as possible90-120 Seconds

Day 7: Resting for Testosterone

EAT GOOD FOOD, SLEEP, DRINK LOTS OF WATER. A mild walk is fine and may help with muscle soreness too.

Day 8: Leg Heavy Testosterone Lifts

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
Kettlebell or Dumbbell Swings4-55-81-0-1Superset 1
Dead Bug Variation4-58-103-1-3Superset 1
Clean & Press Dumbbell or Kettlebell4-53-5 per side1-0-1Superset 2
Upright Row Dumbbell4-56-81-0-1Superset 2
Plank Variation 4-58-103-1-3Superset 2
1-Arm Snatch Dumbbell or Kettlebell4-53-5 per side1-0-1Superset 3
Lateral Raise4-56-81-0-1Superset 3
Pec SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 3
Jump Squats with Dumbbells4Failure1-0-1Superset 4
Back SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 4

Day 9: Sprinting for Testosterone

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
Sprint for 100-200 meters10-20N/AAs fast as possible90-120 Seconds

Day 10: Resting for Testosterone

EAT GOOD FOOD, SLEEP, DRINK LOTS OF WATER. A mild walk is fine and may help with muscle soreness too.

Day 11: Chest & Biceps for Testosterone

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
Flat Dumbbell Press4-53-51-0-1Superset 1
Standing Dumbbell Curl4-56-81-0-1Superset 1
Side Plank Variation4-58-103-1-3Superset 1
Incline Dumbbell Press4-53-51-0-1Superset 2
Seated Dumbbell Curl4-56-81-0-1Superset 2
Side Plank Variation4-58-103-1-3Superset 2
Decline Dumbbell Press4-53-51-0-1Superset 3
Hamstrings SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 3
Explosive Push-ups4Failure1-0-1Superset 4
Calves SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 4
Quadriceps SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 4

Day 12: Back & Triceps for Testosterone

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
Seated Cable Row4-53-51-0-1Superset 1
Triceps Cable Press down4-56-81-0-1Superset 1
Superman4-58-103-1-3Superset 1
Close Grip Pulldown4-53-51-0-1Superset 2
Cable Extensions 4-56-81-0-1Superset 2
Rotator Cuff External by side4-58-10/side3-1-3Superset 2
1-Arm Dumbbell Rows4-53-5 per side1-0-1Superset 3
Bench Dips4-56-81-0-1Superset 3
Rotator Cuff Internal by side4-58-10/side3-1-3Superset 3
Explosive Chin-Ups4Failure1-0-1Superset 4
Sword Pulls48-103-1-3Superset 4

 Day 13: Climbing for Testosterone

ExerciseSets TimeTempoRest
Stair Climbing10-2020-30 SecondsAs fast as possible90-120 Seconds

Day 14: Resting for Testosterone

EAT GOOD FOOD, SLEEP, DRINK LOTS OF WATER. A mild walk is fine and may help with muscle soreness too.

Day 15: Leg Heavy Testosterone Lifts

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
Barbell Clean4-53-51-0-1Superset 1
Dead Bug Variation4-58-103-1-3Superset 1
Barbell Squat4-53-51-0-1Superset 2
Upright Row Barbell4-56-81-0-1Superset 2
Plank Variation 4-58-103-1-3Superset 2
Barbell Deadlift4-53-51-0-1Superset 3
Lateral Raise4-56-81-0-1Superset 3
Pec SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 3
Jump Squats with Dumbbells4Failure1-0-1Superset 4
Back SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 4

Day 16: Sprinting for Testosterone

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
Sprint for 100-200 meters10-20N/AAs fast as possible90-120 Seconds

Day 17: Resting for Testosterone

EAT GOOD FOOD, SLEEP, DRINK LOTS OF WATER. A mild walk is fine and may help with muscle soreness too.

Day 18: Chest & Biceps for Testosterone

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
Flat Barbell Press4-53-51-0-1Superset 1
Barbell Curls4-55-81-0-1Superset 1
Side Plank Variation Left 4-58-103-1-3Superset 1
Incline Barbell Press4-53-51-0-1Superset 2
Barbell Preacher Curl4-56-81-0-1Superset 2
Side Plank Variation Right4-58-103-1-3Superset 2
Decline Barbell Press4-53-51-0-1Superset 3
Hamstrings SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 3
Explosive Push-ups4Failure1-0-1Superset 4
Calves SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 4
Quadriceps SMR330 sec.SlowSuperset 4

Day 19: Back & Triceps for Testosterone

ExerciseSetsRepsTempoRest
Underhand Barbell Row4-53-51-0-1Superset 1
Barbell Skull Crusher 4-56-81-0-1Superset 1
Superman4-58-103-1-3Superset 1
Overhand Barbell Row4-53-51-0-1Superset 2
Close Grip Bench Press4-56-81-0-1Superset 2
Rotator Cuff External by side4-58-10/side3-1-3Superset 2
Barbell Collar Rows4-53-51-0-1Superset 3
Bench Dips4-56-81-0-1Superset 3
Rotator Cuff Internal by side4-58-10/side3-1-3Superset 3
Explosive Chin-Ups4Failure1-0-1Superset 4
Sword Pulls48-103-1-3Superset 4

 Day 20: Climbing for Testosterone

ExerciseSets TimeTempoRest
Stair Climbing10-2020-30 SecondsAs fast as possible90-120 Seconds

Day 21: Resting for Testosterone

EAT GOOD FOOD, SLEEP, DRINK LOTS OF WATER. A mild walk is fine and may help with muscle soreness too.

Warm-up:

  1. 5-10 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise (Walk, jog, bike, etc)
  2. Arm circles forward 20x
  3. Arm circles backward 20x
  4. Arm Swings 20x
  5. Standing core twists 20x
  6. Alternating lateral lunges 10/side
  7. Inchworm feet move 5x
  8. Inchworm hands move 5x
  9. Wood chops left 15x
  10. Wood chops right 15x
  11. Squat thrust 15x
  12. Sitting in squat and reaching overhead – 15x

Cool Down – Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds

  1. Reach overhead and side bend right 
  2. Reach overhead and side bend left
  3. Toe touch
  4. Overhead Tricep stretch right 
  5. Overhead Tricep stretch left
  6. Chest/shoulder stretch
  7. Quadricep stretch left
  8. Quadricep stretch right
  9. Adductor stretch left
  10. Adductor stretch right
  11. Knee hug left
  12. Knee hug right

Daily Analysis of Life Demands for Athletes (DALA) Questionnaire

Take this test daily.  If any single indicator is “worse than normal” 3 consecutive days, take a break.  If there is more than 5 “worse than normal” in one day, take a break.  

References:

  1. PERLMUTTER, DAVID. GRAIN BRAIN: the Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers. LITTLE BROWN SPARK, 2018.
  2. Hansen, S., et al. “The Effect of Short-Term Strength Training on Human Skeletal Muscle: the Importance of Physiologically Elevated Hormone Levels.” Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports, vol. 11, no. 6, 2001, pp. 347–354., doi:10.1034/j.1600-0838.2001.110606.x.
  3. Gotshalk, Lincoln Allan, et al. “Hormonal Responses of Multiset Versus Single-Set Heavy-Resistance Exercise Protocols.” Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology, vol. 22, no. 3, 1997, pp. 244–255., doi:10.1139/h97-016.
  4. Kuoppasalmi, K., et al. “Plasma Cortisol, Androstenedione, Testosterone and Luteinizing Hormone in Running Exercise of Different Intensities.” Scandinavian Journal of Clinical and Laboratory Investigation, vol. 40, no. 5, 1980, pp. 403–409., doi:10.3109/00365518009101862.
  5. Tanner, A., et al. “Salivary Steroid Hormone Response in Trained Men to Running and Circuit Training Sessions.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 45, no. 15, 2011, doi:10.1136/bjsports-2011-090606.19.
  6. Maso, F. “Salivary Testosterone and Cortisol in Rugby Players: Correlation with Psychological Overtraining Items.” British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 38, no. 3, 2004, pp. 260–263., doi:10.1136/bjsm.2002.000254.
  7. Shrier, I. “Differential Effects of Strength Training Leading to Failure versus Not to Failure on Hormonal Responses, Strength, and Muscle Power Gains.” Yearbook of Sports Medicine, vol. 2007, 2007, pp. 99–100., doi:10.1016/s0162-0908(08)70094-1.
  8. Knutson KL, Spiegel K, Penev P, Van Cauter E. The Metabolic Consequences of Sleep Deprivation. Sleep medicine reviews. 2007;11(3):163-178. doi:10.1016/j.smrv.2007.01.002.

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