This is the first installment in our three part series about Testosterone-
Even though all of these articles are written by an licensed pharmacist who was also a bodybuilder- none of these articles should be considered medical advice or a suitable replacement for a physician's professional opinion. These articles are subject to our medical disclaimer.Forward by Good Looking Loser
When kids were out drinking and hooking up with girls in college, I was in my own nicely furnished apartment studying testosterone levels and anabolic steroids. Once in a while I'd take a top-less picture of myself and post it on Facebook, which was new at the time.
While I've lived my 20's in reverse, a lot my time spent in my early 20's sitting on the Internet doing "research" paid off.
(most of it was a colossal waste of time)
If masculinity were biologically quantified into a single number- it would your testosterone level.
While that would be an absurd generalization, masculinity is largely an attitude/mindset/vibe, we can't underestimate the importance of this level and the likely influence it has on behavior of the elite group of goal-driven males that we call the "Top 10%".
Allow me to generalize and back it up with absolutely no proof -
(we'll have plenty of science soon)
Your testosterone level is critical.
During my brief stint as a personal trainer in Los Angeles and several years in college working intermittently as an underground "consultant" to random Division I college athletes - the VERY FIRST number I needed to know their testosterone level.
It didn't matter how hard they trained, what supplements they took or how much clean food they ate- if their testosterone was low, it will be PHYSIOLOGICALLY IMPOSSIBLE to build or maintain significant amount of muscle mass (or lose significant amounts of fat without losing muscle) if their testosterone was low.
For the average person, the number is just as critical and the way that most doctors the issue is absurd.
It will be up to you to ask the doctor for the EXACT number and interpret it. Ask us in the forum if you need help.
In general, we recommend that you have the highest testosterone level you can have, while still falling in approved medical range of (350-1200).
In my non-medical opinion, there is NOTHING WRONG with having the testosterone level of a 19 year old, so long as your blood work is also within the healthy ranges and you are under a physician's care.
A lot of doctor's will say, "that isn't natural."
By natural, they mean- healthy males are naturally supposed to progressively feel and look like shit as they get older.
I don't see the point of feeling (or looking) like you are older than you are if you don't have to.
I keep my testosterone levels at about 1000ng/dl (+/- 150).
My doctor approves.
As a man, there is no doubt that you’ve heard more than your fair share about testosterone.
But what exactly is it?
Do I need more of it?
Or more importantly, what effects does a lack of it have on my body?
Let’s delve into some of the biggest misconceptions about testosterone and do some serious myth-busting.
So What is Testosterone?
Quite aptly put, it is the hormone that makes a man a man.
Testosterone is a steroid (uh-oh), and is responsible for the masculine effects, such as hair growth, increased muscle mass of males, and very importantly, sexual function and libido. Testosterone is frankly the most important hormone in men, with a low level impairing many physiological processes.
To appreciate the benefits of optimal testosterone levels (and not normal), it might be practical for you to get an understanding of what low Testosterone levels cause. These may include;
That’s to say it bluntly and now I’ll tell you why.
If your doctor says the "f-word" (fine), ask to see the numbers. It is your legal right to see them. Sometimes you'll need to shout at a brain-dead receptionist that doesn't want to fax your numbers - but it's worth it - it's your life.
To start with, keep in mind that the test doesn’t lie (unless you do the cheapest, most inferior method that exists), but is subject to individual perception. What that means is that you are likely to be told different things depending on the laboratory and doctor that does it.
Let me give you an example -
Many labs have a reference range of 350-1200 ng/dl (nanograms per deciliter) for total testosterone as being fine.
So according to that, theoretically if you are 18 years old and score 370, you would be in the prime of your life, right?
Well here’s the MAJOR problem; that range was devised based on averages from men of all age ranges; normally from around 23 way up to 80.
So you’re 370 might be "normal", but not normal for your age.
You could possess the normal level for a 70 year old man! And that’s where the major problem lies that physicians everywhere have been failing to address.
But before we delve further into unshrouding the testosterone mystery, let’s clarify how a test typically looks.
When you do a T level test, there are two kinds you can get;
A Total Testosterone Test, which is only concerned with giving you the overall reading of your value. Most of these tests focus on total, as the other test, “Free Testosterone Levels” is extremely minute, and often times difficult to predict accurately.
Both numbers are significant, although if you have a high level of Total Testosterone, it's unlikely that you will have a low level of Free Testosterone, and vice-versa.
More information can be found here-
So What Is A Normal Man's Testosterone Reading?
A 'normal' reading depends on your age.
If you are 30, and have gotten a reading of 370, then you are normal according to the “accepted reference range”, while really and truly you are sorely under what is should be.
To give you a good idea of what it should be, based on age, there were a number of studies conducted to determine what the average was at different age ranges;
We have taken the mean of several studies and found averages.
Men less than 25 years old
Men 25-34 years old
Men 35-44 years old
Men 45-54 years old
Men 55-64 years old
Men 65-74 years old
Men 75-84 years old
Men 85 and older
Now that you’ve seen this, it should be clear that a mediocre reading based on a wide cross section is not only inaccurate, but could directly contribute to a nation’s health burden.
Is It Better to Be High-Normal, as Opposed To Just Normal?
As seen above those are the average levels of men within those age ranges.
However, there is an upper and lower limit as well, with it being better to strive for the upper end whenever possible.
Of course, there are individual differences as well; it all depends on your “feel”. Some men may feel perfectly normal at a lower level than you may; doesn't necessarily mean there’s something wrong with them, just that maybe their optimal zone is lower than yours.
Finding yourself on the upper side can have profound positive effects, such as;
We recommend having your testosterone level as high as possible, 900-1000 (+/- ~100) ng/dl so long as you are under a physician's care, within acceptable ranges and are not experiencing any side effects.
How Do I Find Out What My Testosterone Level Is?
You actually have several options and you don't even need health insurance.
See your doctor.
If you have health insurance- go see your doctor and complain about "fatigue" and ask him to find your testosterone level.
(you might as level get a thyroid test too)
"Fatigue" is a general symptom that nearly all health insurance will permit (and cover) testing for. You might want to ask your doctor and health care provider to confirm this but I (Chris) learned this from my own doctor. Anytime I wanted bloodwork for a specific hormone, the doctor indicated "fatigue".
Remember, if your doctor is a general practitioner or he sucks- you will have to demand to hear your numbers. Most endocrinologists (hormone doctors) are better with this stuff. It usually takes a referral (and money wasted on regular doctor's visits) to see this type of specialist however.
If you don't have health insurance (or even if you do and want to save money), there's 2 other things that you can do-
Get the bloodwork done yourself.
Most people don't know that it is perfectly legal and possible to get virtually anything tested from an independent laboratory and not report it to your doctor or insurance. It's quite simple and this little "trick" is something that most dedicated bodybuilders or competitive athletes know about.
It goes like this-
Often doing this is cheaper and faster than going to a doctor. I highly recommend it if you live in a country that still allows you to make your own medical decisions.
Get a credible at-home testosterone test.
This is not my first recommendation but I know some intelligent meatheads that swear by this specific inexpensive saliva test that can measure both free and total testosterone.
Basically you spit on it and send it to a laboratory in the pre-paid container and they hit you up with a detailed analysis.
Pretty simple and the least expensive of all the options.
(these tests are actually quite popular, more than I knew)