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Stress, environmental factors, poor eating habits, lack of time for exercise and even genetics can interfere with the efforts of men to maintain muscle mass and healthy body tone. However, there may be one factor that men don’t take into account when training and trying to build muscle: Testosterone.

Testosterone is a hormone mostly associated with males. Females do have testosterone, but at much lower levels than men. In males, testosterone is produced mainly in the testes and its levels (or lack thereof) are often linked with libido and sexual activity.

However, did you know that testosterone also dictates a number of characteristics about men’s bodies? It’s true. From the amount of facial and body hair men have to the bulk of their physique, testosterone can be either friend or foe.

Since body size and shape play a huge role in how a man feels about himself, it’s important that he understands the role that testosterone plays. While no man really expects to have the same firm, chiseled physique at 50 that he did at 21, despite his age he often does want to maintain his muscle tone and healthy lifestyle.

By knowing their testosterone levels, men can manage their health and enjoy better self-esteem, sex and sleep.

The impact of time

It should come as no surprise that testosterone surges during adolescence and peaks in the late teens. As most men enter their 30s, their level of testosterone decreases slightly each year. While there is not much they can do about this natural decline, it is important that men and their doctor monitor testosterone levels at annual exams because low levels can lead to obesity, heart issues and other health challenges.

If your bodybuilding or weight training regimen isn’t working despite your best efforts and hard work, it might be worth a trip to the doctor’s office to have your testosterone checked. Low levels may contribute to a decreased muscle mass, fatigue and boost in abdominal fat. All this can be fighting against your hard work during training.

How to fight back

Once you know what testosterone levels you are dealing with, you can develop an action plan. Choices you make every day about your health and well-being can significantly impact your testosterone levels.

Healthy testosterone habits include:

  • Strength training
  • High intensity exercise
  • Stress management
  • Good sleep
  • Consuming natural foods and not highly processed meats pumped full of hormones
  • Minimizing intake of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol

Get real results

In their quest to boost testosterone levels, some men turn to supplements or prescription therapy. Before taking such drastic steps, try weight training and bodybuilding. Studies show that these activities can result in higher testosterone levels. In fact, in obese men, increased physical activity was shown to be even more effective than weight loss when increasing testosterone in the body.

If you think you might have low testosterone, get it checked. Your health – and muscles – will thank you for it later.

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