If your sex drive is in low gear, there's a good chance you have low testosterone.
And that's true whether you're a man or a woman.
Now, a lot of "experts" will tell you that one of the best ways to boost testosterone is to get out and "exercise."
There may be some kernel of truth there, but the problem is "exercise" isn't all one thing.
When they say you should get at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity every week, that advice could actually be sabotaging your love life.
Does Exercise Affect Testosterone Levels?
You see, the wrong kind of exercise can actually KILL your sex drive. That's because cardio is just about the worst thing you can do for your testosterone levels.
For one thing, long cardio workouts make you fat. They do it by getting you into the "fat-melting zone." But every time you enter that zone, you send your body a signal that you need fat.
When you finish a long cardio workout, your body goes to work storing up fat for the next time.
And that's a huge problem, because research shows that as body fat levels rise, testosterone levels drop. At the same time, estrogen levels rise. That's a recipe for disaster in the bedroom.
On top of that, long cardio workouts put a huge amount of stress on your body. That elevates your levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. As cortisol goes up, testosterone goes down. And there goes your sex drive.
In a nutshell, the more cardio you do, the lower your testosterone. In a study from the University of British Columbia, runners who logged 40 miles per week had distinctly lower testosterone levels than those who only ran short distances.1
Boost Testosterone With Short Workouts
Instead of long cardio sessions, I advise my patients to boost testosterone and rev up their sex drive with short workouts that focus on increasing exertion.
You see, short, intense, interval training — like my PACE (Progressively Accelerating Cardiopulmonary Exertion) fitness program — helps you lose fat faster. And it won't spike cortisol the way long endurance workouts do.
In fact, studies show intense exertion can boost circulating testosterone after just five minutes.2 And a U.S. Army study found that testosterone levels rose significantly after just six weeks of doing brief sets of squat exercises separated with two minute rest periods.3
The Core Exercise of PACE
Squats are one of the core exercises I've been recommending as part of my PACE program for years. Here's how to do them:
- Stand with your feet shoulder width apart.
- Extend your arms out in front of you, parallel to the ground with your hands open and palms facing down.
- Inhale briskly and pull your hands straight back.
- As you pull back, turn the wrists up and make a fist.
- At the end of the inhalation, your elbows should be behind you with both hands in a fist, palm side up.
- From this position, exhale, bend your knees and squat.
- Let your arms fall to your sides and touch the ground with the tips of your fingers.
- Continue exhaling and let your arms swing up as you stand.
- This brings you back to the starting position. Standing straight up with your arms extended in front of you, hands open and palms facing down.
Repeat at the pace of one squat every four seconds. Once you get the form right, you can increase your speed to one squat per second.
If you want to learn some other good PACE exercises, go to my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/AlSearsMD/videos. I have more than 30 different exercises and a complete workout to help you get started.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. MacKelvie K, Taunton J, McKay H, Khan K. "Bone mineral density and serum testosterone in chronically trained, high mileage 40–55 year old male runners." British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2000;34(4):273-278.
2. Smith A, Toone R, Peacock O, Drawer S, Stokes K, Cook C. "Dihydrotestosterone is elevated following sprint exercise in healthy young men." J Appl Physiol 2013;114(10):1435-40.
3. Nindl BC et al. "Testosterone responses after resistance exercise in women: influence of regional fat distribution." Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2001;11(4):451-65.