Maximizing Testosterone Levels with Training

Hi, I’m struggling with low testosterone level 3,14 ng/ml and I would like to ask you about training approach that will help with maximizing my test levels. I’m wondering if better to go with volume or intensity.

From your knowledge what kind of workout would work better:

  1. Low volume/high intensity like best damn workout for naturals
  2. Something like Eternal Warrior whole body circuits
  3. Other?

Also all other hints are welcome outside of gym :grinning:

Low-volume/high effort for sure. I’d also keen the frequency at 3-4 per week.

The main thing that can hurt testosterone level is jacking up your cortisol. That’s because cortisol and testosterone are made from the same “mother hormone” (pregnenolone)… the more cortisol you produce, the less pregnenolone there is left to make testosterone.

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Thank you for respond. I read yesterday that going to failure is decreasing testosterone levels so my big question now is what kind of effort methods can be used?

  • ramping
  • 5/4/3/2/1
  • strength skill

Also 3-4 days a week looks like setup for whole body minimal aproche (4 exercises for squat, push, hinge, pull)?

Where did you read that?

It might be true in some case (training to failure at a high volume of work) as the combination of volume and effort level would certainly increase cortisol moreso than volume alone.

But a low-volume/high-effort (to failure) program will not have that impact.

Plus, it’s kinda hard to progress from a low-volume approach if you don’t reach failure or get really close to it.


I mean, yeah, you could do that (that’s what I do with athletes, but not for body composition).

Plenty of splits can be used for 3 or 4 sessions per week.

Whole body
Upper/Lower/Whole body

3 whole-body + gap workout
Lift-specific routine (squat day, bench day, deadlift day, Overhead press day)
Chest & triceps/Legs/Back & biceps/Delts and rear delts
Push & quads/Pull & hams twice each per week



Strength-skill wouldn’t work well as it does require more volume

The other two are strength schemes… is that what you are after? Is it muscular development or strength

Hi, thanks for explanation regarding going to failure on testosterone level. I read about decreasing after going to failure on few sites for example

Regarding goals I would say:

  1. Muscle mass
  2. Lose some fat
  3. Improving condition

I’m really confused with going to failure topic. Frome one hand looks like really nice way to make shit done in short period of time but looks like hard to design properly to not hit the wall fast. The issue is that I like free weight and body weight exercises those are hard to doing to failure from my understanding. I like circuits training for example also and stuff where different thinks are happening.
Typical 2A profile which is sad because I have some need to change plan every 3-4 weeks or small parts of this plan but not exercise

Some thoughts:

  1. You are correct that going to failure on big free-weight movements isn’t super smart, mostly from a safety perspective.

  2. You didn’t mention strength as one of your main 3 goals. Yet the loading schemes you talked about earlier are primarily strength schemes.

  3. Building muscle mass and losing fat at the same time is not gonna work well unless you are genetically prediposed to building muscle esily, a beginner or using steroids. The VAST majority of people who attempt to do it end up, at best, spinning their wheels in that they lose fat but don’t gain muscle or, at worse, burn out. If you are concerned about your testosterone levels, trying to do both at the same time is playing with fire.

  4. Going to failure is NOT hard to program. In fact, it’s much easier than “normal” training. The way I do it is working up to one top set per exercise which is to failure. SOMETIMES I have a back off set. It looks like this:

Option 1 (on exercises not using heavy weights)
Set 1 (warm-up) 8-10 reps with 50% of your planned top set
Set 2 (feeler set) 6 reps with 80% of your planned top set
Set 3 (top set) 5-8 reps with your planned top weight, going to failure
Set 4 (optional back-off set) Going 1 rep short of failure with 80% of your top weight

Option 2 (on movements where you need a more gradual progression)Set 1 (warm-up) Set 1 (warm-up)8-10 reps with 50% of your planned top set
Set 2 (feeler set #1) 6 reps with 70% of your planned top set
Set 3 (feeler set #2) 3-6 reps with 85% of your planned top set
Set 4 (top set) 5-8 reps with your planned top weight, going to failure
Set 5 (optional back-off set) Going 1 rep short of failure with 80% of your top weight

There are normally 5-6 exercises per workout

  1. You don’t HAVE to change your plan every 3-4 weeks even if you are a 2A. Of you can simply change minor details for a block of 6 weeks for example:

Week 1: Going to failure, then doing a back-off set
Week 2: Adding bottom/lengthened partial reps once you hit failure
Week 3: Doing the top set as a rest/pause set
Week 4: Doing the top set as a drop set (lowering weigh by around 20%)
Week 5: Doing the top set as a double rest/pause
Week 6: Stopping the top set with 1 rep in reserve

  1. When you mention “condition”, do you mean as in hard energy systems work? If so, understand that these (along with very long-duration endurance exercise) can have an impact on testosterone levels.

  2. Are your low testosterone levels symptomatic? Do you have low libido? Less drive and energy? Being more negative-minded? Losing muscle? I’m asking because some people have low testosterone levels but normal testosterone functions by having very sensitive receptors. Do you have your testosterone levels history? As it always been low (which could indicate that it’s actually normal levels for you) or did it drop over time?

  3. Point #7 is important because if these are your “normal” testosterone levels and that you don’t have signs of low testosterone, you will likely not increase it through natural means.

  4. If you indeed have symptomatic low testosterone your resistance training protocol is unlikely to be the main culprit. Overall stress, poor sleep, poor nutrition (or sustained caloric restriction), too much endurance work, etc. are more likely to play a big factor.

  5. If you REALLY have low testosterone and you want to fix it, it is more important to do the training that will help you out rather than the training you like doing.


I will focus on loosing fat at first then I will start building muscle. I’m currently 38 years old so last call to put as much as possible.

Thanks a lot for this explanation and weekly progression. Now it doesn’t look so complex. I’m just wonder if this should be done with whole body split or maybe push/pull split would be better?

Full story is that I had a really stressful first half of this year in my work, a lot of over hours etc but I was still doing full body workouts 3-4 times a week and LISS 2 times a week for about 20-25 minutes. Numbers were going up really nicely and I felt amazing tbh.
When I finished this stressful project at work I went on a 2 weeks vacation and when I got back I started to feel like crap. Low libido, lack of energy, mood swings etc.
During vacations I was resting from training, just walking with my family. Also after coming back no training was done because of this lack of energy. I decided to take blood tests and I was surprised with low T levels.
I think it is not that I always have it low because last year I had 6 ng/ml now 3 ng/ml. Probably I will need to contact the doctor and maybe check what is happening - unfortunately it is not easy to find someone good in my country.

I will try to adjust every aspect of my life to boost T levels, training also. I have the same diet and I’m taking the same supplements so I will start with adjustments in training.

I personally prefer a push/pull/legs split (that’s what I do) but a variant of this type of training (the original HIT by Arthur Jones and promoted by our own Elligton Darden) often used a whole body approach

Thanks for all responses! You are the greatest coach of our times so many knowledge in one person :exploding_head:

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I was just wondering because I often see that You are dividing days in week for specific adaptations. For example strength, power, hypertrophy. It is good idea to have weekly schedule like this:

Strength day circuit of 4-5 sets of 3-5 reps with :

  • SGHP
  • Dips
  • Zercher squat
  • Pull ups

Some power or strength endurance day

Hypertrophy day
Whole body workout of 5-6 exercises with one set for each with intensifiers?

Or there will be too many different stimulations in one week?

Thank you, I hadn’t known why cortisol destroyed tetosterone, now I do. Interesting too.