In 2007, a study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism revealed a shocking truth. Testosterone levels in men in the US had plummeted. What they found was that on average the decline was happening at a staggering 1% every year. That doesn’t’ sound like a lot.

But that equates to a 60-year-old man in 2004 having testosterone levels 17% lower than those of a 60-year-old in 1987. It wasn’t only American scientists who found this trend in men. A study of Danish men produced similar findings. That study showed double-digit declines among men born in the 1960s compared to those born in the 1920s.

Your hormones affect everything from muscle growth, to mood, and yes, reproduction. Think of your hormones like super fast texting machines. They operate like messengers that tell your cells and organs how to operate. And low testosterone can lead to a myriad of health issues for men.

Both men and women create testosterone, but men produce about 2x as much. But if T levels dip too low, you can experience issues like:

  • Low sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Poor sleep
  • Muscle loss
  • Low sperm count
  • Increased belly fat
  • Depression

Types of Testosterone

You have kinds of testosterone floating around your blood:

  • albumin,
  • sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG), and
  • free testosterone.
Naturally Increase Your Testosterone
The chemical makeup of Testosterone, bro.

Both Albumin and SHBG are protein-bound testosterone. But free testosterone isn’t bound to any proteins. Now, oddly enough, you can have high amounts of testosterone but low amounts of free testosterone. And you can still experience symptoms associated with low T levels.

Your health is your responsibility. And knowing where your testosterone levels hover is part of that responsibility. You can have your doctor test your testosterone levels with a simple blood test.

My suggestion, if you have never had these levels checked, get them checked. Understand where you are now, and if you have low T levels, take action to boost those numbers naturally first. And then continue having those numbers checked every year on your routine physical.

Here’s what you need to know about those numbers: What’s considered a normal range for testosterone is pretty freaking huge. Normal levels of total testosterone in men fall somewhere between 300 and 1000 nanograms per deciliter. And “normal” free testosterone levels fall anywhere between 9 and 30 ng nanograms per deciliter.

Why such a wide range? Well, because genetics can play a role here. Everyone is a little different, even if men all produce testosterone. What’s normal for a 6’8” male won’t be what’s optimal for a shorter 5’5” man. And that makes sense.

But, here’s what is troubling about the idea of a normal range that wide. Even at the bottom range of “normal” many men may be experiencing the horrendous effects of low T. But your doctor will look at those numbers and tell you, “Nah, bro, you’re all good. You’re in the ‘normal range. You’re fine.”

Now look, I’m not a doctor, and I will never pretend to be one. But I also know that a range that wide makes about as much sense as saying that you can drive down the highway from a range of 20mph to 90mph.

Symptoms of low testosterone can kill your quality of life. It’s that simple. And over the last few years, testosterone replacement therapy has been trending upward. I have friends who are on TRT.  I have worked with a client who was on TRT. And someday, when I’m much older, I will use it to keep my levels optimal.

There are two great resources I suggest every man read when it comes to testosterone therapy: The Testosterone Optimization Therapy Bible by Jay Campbell and Testosterone: A Man’s Guide by Nelson Vergel

I’m going to be clear about one thing, first: you don’t need a cream, a gel, or pills to boost your testosterone. The science is clear that those solutions work. But before you ever jump to that, you should always attempt to raise your testosterone levels naturally.

Yes, know where you land in terms of testosterone (get tested, bro). Because it’s beneficial to see if you suffer from low levels of T.

Then, once you have that, focus first on improving the first four things listed below. Improve those areas, and then you can add the other six after it to your daily routine. Then go get yourself retested and see how much your testosterone has improved.

The 4 Best Ways Every Man Can Improve Testosterone Levels

1. Get more sleep

There is no absolutely, positively no better way to improve your testosterone levels (and every other facet of your life) than to get more sleep.

In 2016, the Center for Disease Control found that nearly 35% of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep a night. Depriving yourself of sleep raises your risk of hypertension and weight gain, weakens your immune system, raises your risk of diabetes, decreases insulin sensitivity, and it may increase inflammation and inflammatory-related issues.

Your body does most of its rebuilding and recovery while you slumber. Sufficient sleep keeps you mentally strong and alert and helps in maintaining good hormone health. Plus, during the deeper parts of sleep, your body releases growth hormones to rebuild your body’s tissues.

naturally increase testosterone
Dogs always win the Internet.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults over the age of 26 should get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. And though exercise is one of the suggested activities that experts recommend to improve your sleep, there are other things you can do to get more shut-eye.

Just remember the acronym SLEEP.

  1. Sleep in a cold room
  2. Leave yourself 30 minutes to of no screen time before bed
  3. End any caffeine consumption before 3 PM
  4. Establish a relaxation ritual to wind down your mind before bed
  5. Pursue the Robbie Farlow rule: the bedroom is for sex and sleep. Keep all electronics — phone, computer, tablets — out of your bedroom. It is a sacred space that should never be breached by attention-demanding electronics.

2. Eat more Cruciferous vegetables

Your grandma was right: eat your goddang (grammy doesn’t curse) vegetables.

Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, bok choy, watercress, horseradish, and brussels sprouts are all high in Indole-3-carbinol. I3C is produced when your body breaks down these vegetables. And it has some amazing anticarcinogenic, (cancer-fighting), antioxidant, and anti-atherogenic (artery-clearing) effects. But I3C also helps your body better metabolize and bind estrogen the way it should be.

Your body converts I3C to diindollyl methane. That in turns works to transform estrogen the way it should be converted in a man’s body, which goes a long way to boosting your free testosterone. This allows your free testosterone to more easily binds to androgen receptors that do all the things you want testosterone to do — build muscle, increase libido, and regulate mood.

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Mmmmm, veggies

3. Lift Weights

The BEST thing anyone (male or female) can do for their health is to add more muscle. I covered numerous studies that have shown those who lift weights live longer and better lives here.

What should you lift, though?

Focus on the basics, exercises that hit more than one muscle at a time — squats, bench pressing, overhead pressing, deadlifts, farmers carries, & rows. Or what those of us who write about fitness call compound lifts.

Compound lifts have been shown to boost testosterone production. So, yes, you can still curl and hit your triceps. But get stronger in the big lifts and spend your time making those your bread and butter.

Naturally Increase Your Testosterone

4.Lose Belly Fat

Excess belly fat can create a vicious cycle that can tank your testosterone levels even more.

Your body fat is home to an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. Now, you do need “some” estrogen, just as women need “some” testosterone for optimal health. But too much estrogen triggers your body to slow its production of testosterone.

And testosterone is a natural fat-burning hormone. But guess what? The less testosterone you make, the more likely you are to store excess belly fat. (If you’re not eating less food than you burn or aren’t paying attention to nutrition at all).

So, before you even try and naturally increase your T levels fellas, you gotta lose the stomach fluff.

Here’s something else that’s interesting: not all men with low testosterone are overweight. What? How can that be? Well, we may all have similar chromosomes, but we’re all different physiologically. And the symptoms of low T can vary from man to man.

Men with low testosterone do tend to have one common trait: they have less muscle mass. So even if you’re “not” overweight or obese, you have more fat than you think.

5 Other Things You Can Do to Increase Testosterone Naturally but That are Kind of Meaningless if the First Four Aren’t Done First

naturally increase testosterone
+3 to health for sun exposure

5. Get More Sunlight

Yes, even for us fair-skinned, pale AF gingers, sunlight is crucial to healthy testosterone production. Testosterone is created from cholesterol.
OMG, isn’t cholesterol terrible for you?
No. Cholesterol is vital to life. And it’s not some demonic entity hellbent on giving you a heart attack. Cholesterol is a lipid (that means it’s made of fat) molecule found all over your body.
Cholesterol keeps your cell membranes firm and prevents them from turning to mush. It also sends messages between cells so that your body can communicate with itself. But guess what else it does? Cholesterol’s a precursor for your sex hormones like testosterone.
There’s a lot of super sciencey steps that happen as cholesterol becomes testosterone. What you need to know is that testosterone synthesis starts with cholesterol. Then it meets luteinizing hormone (LH). Then your testicular Leydig cells convert cholesterol into testosterone. And this pretty much all takes place down in your crown jewels. #science
So let’s get back to sunlight, shall we? Why is it so important? Because it interacts with cholesterol in your skin and helps produce vitamin D.

6. Take Vitamin D

But hey, maybe you don’t live in a land filled with sunshine like Dorne. Maybe you live in The North with all the white walkers. What can you do if you don’t get enough sun exposure? Supplement with Vitamin D.
Studies have shown that high levels of vitamin D help increase testosterone. And considering that much of the Western world is super deficient in Vitamin D, it’s one of the few supplements I suggest all my clients do.
2,000-5,000 IUs once a day is sufficient. Keep in mind that vitamin D is fat-soluble. So make sure to take it with a high-fat meal or take it with fish oil if you take fish oil.
*Note: vitamin D taken at night can impair sleep. But that is when I take it, and it does not affect me (it seems). So take it in the morning or at least find a time that’s best for you.*

7. Get More Magnesium

Speaking of things the Western world is deficient in, let’s talk about magnesium. In developed countries around the world, magnesium ranks second in deficiencies. Magnesium is an electrolyte that helps keep our muscles and cells functioning at high levels.
Deficiencies in magnesium:
  • increase blood pressure;
  • reduces glucose tolerance, and
  • Cause neural excitation.
So why are countries like the United States deficient in magnesium?
Grains are a poor source of Mg. And because we eat too many processed boxed foods, and not enough leafy green veggies, we don’t get the levels we need.
Magnesium’s involved in over a hundred biochemical reactions in your body. But one of its most significant roles is as a “helper” molecule during the chemical reactions that enzymes in our bodies go through.
Some of the things that magnesium does include:
  • Reducing blood pressure
  • Acts as a natural sedative
  • Improves insulin sensitivity
  • Aids in muscle recovery from workouts
  • Regulates cortisol
Warning: magnesium supplementation around bedtime can give you funky ass dreams. And I don’t mean like you’re onstage with Parliament Funkadelic jamming your face off. I mean like weird ass dreams that I can’t even explain. But that only lasts about 2-3 days. Still, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The standard dose for magnesium is 200-400mg. More isn’t bad per se, but just be warned that you should always take it with food as it can cause intestinal issues like diarrhea or bloating. Finally, make sure to grab magensium bi-glycinate. It’s a more easily absorbed form of magnesium for your body. 

8. Stop Drinking so much Alcohol (or at least limit it)

I love whiskey. But I don’t drink every night. I drink less than 3-4x a month. Moderate consumption of alcohol, 1-2 drinks a day, isn’t all that bad according to studies. But those studies have shown that 3 or more drinks per night can have drastic effects on your health.
Alcohol is empty calories. It’s also a neurotoxin that your body has to dispel. And to do this, shuts down all muscle building and fat burning processes as it processes alcohol.
Naturally Increase Your Testosterone

9. A Few More Things to Watch Out For

Some of this stuff I hate mentioning because I feel like some crazy old hippie lady like my mother-in-law. But there is sufficient evidence to suggest you might want to cut back on the use of some of these items.
Too much caffeine intake – watch what you drink in your pre-workout or in the afternoons. Caffeine has a half-life of ~6 hours. So it can still affect you late in the evening. My suggestion: no caffeine after 2 pm.
Xenoestrogens and Other T-Lowering Chemicals – This is the one where I feel like a crazy hippie. There are some harmful, or potentially harmful, chemicals that can have estrogenic effects on the male body in sunscreens, non-stick Teflon pans (stainless steel is the way to go anyways), receipt paper, and household cleaning supplies as well as shampoo.
So if you really wanna avoid them, feel free. But I don’t know how far I am willing to go with all that. You can find natural sources for all of these products as well.
Too much exercise (don’t overtrain) – Yes, exercise and lifting weights can increase T. But too much of it is also bad for you. Too much exercise without sufficient rest can keep cortisol high and test levels lowered. Stick with 3-4 days a week at the gym. That’s really all you need.
Too much stress – Cortisol is not an evil hormone; it’s an energy regulator. But it does play a big part in the fight-or-flight response our bodies go through. When it’s elevated, testosterone levels decrease. And as we age, our cortisol levels rise. So finding ways to manage your stress or stressors is vital to keeping your T from tanking.
Meditation can help with this. So can walks outside (walking is the best thing ever anyways). The people you surround yourself with can affect you, so don’t let negative people suck the life out of you.
Hey Robbie, what about that test booster I can get at GNC?
These are the biggest wastes of money any man can buy. Have I bought them? Yes, back in like 2011 because I was dumb and didn’t know any better. And do you wanna know what they did?
Naturally Increase Testosterone
This is a waste of money.
Remember in middle school when anything, even the wind, brushed against your crotch and you popped wood? And remember how that happened once in math class and you had to fake being “stupid” when you got called to show the class how to solve a simple math problem? Yea, that’s pretty much what happened to me when I took a test booster.
Test boosters do one thing: increase blood flow to your dong. That’s it. According to numerous studies, they have zero effect on improving your testosterone levels. Don’t believe me? Read all about them here at Examine.

Dot Your I’s and Cross Your Testosterone

Yes, you can optimize your testosterone by getting on TRT. Again, this is a solution I believe some men are in need of. And one that I will use someday myself. But before you go down that road, try and increase them naturally first.
I will reiterate this point one more time: if your lifestyle looks like how Nickelback sounds, fix that first. Make sure you get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Do some form of resistance training 2-4x a week. And start eating more whole-sourced foods and less processed crap.
If you do all three of those for a month or two, I’m confident you’ll not only feel a difference, but you’ll see a difference in blood tests as well.

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