Simply put, testosterone boosters are safe, natural products that help increase the body's natural production of testosterone. What exactly is testosterone and why is it so important? Testosterone is one of the body's primary anabolic hormones (also including GH, Insulin and IGF-1). The term anabolic, a misused and often misunderstood term to be sure, is defined as “characterized by or promoting constructive metabolism”. It's a natural occurrence in the body, not to be confused with how it's used in reference to steroids.
As a anabolic hormone produced by the body, testosterone is considered by many modern authorities to be the number one hormone for muscle growth. However, I see it as one of several important hormones and feel the best results come from manipulating all of them, instead of focusing on just one.
For the benefit of a complete understanding, let's look at exactly what hormones are: they are chemical messengers that are released in one tissue and transported in the bloodstream to alter the activities of specific cells in other tissues. Each hormone has target cells, which are specific cells that have the receptors needed to bind and read the hormonal message. Also, hormones alter the operations of target cells by changing the types, quantities or activities of important enzymes and structural proteins.
- Amino acid derivatives - this group of hormones are synthesized from the amino acids tyrosine and tryptophan.
- Peptide hormones - this class includes some of the hormones of interest to bodybuilders, such as GH and insulin.
- Steroid hormones - this class includes testosterone. They are structurally similar to cholesterol and are released by the male and female reproductive organs.
It should be noted that hormones must first bind to a receptor to have an affect on the target cell, these receptors are actually a protein molecule. Each cell has receptors for responding to several different hormones.
Testosterone is part of a hormone group known as gonadotrophins which regulate the activities of the gonads: the ovaries in women and the testes in men. There are two gonadotrophins: follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, also known as lutropin. This is the hormone that stimulates the sex hormones in men, also called androgens, testosterone is the most important of these. It's classified as a steroid hormone and it's made from cholesterol. Although testosterone is often thought of as a sex hormone because it controls the development of male sexual characteristics, it has a much larger role as it ties into bodybuilding: it promotes protein synthesis and nitrogen balance leading to greater muscle growth. While it's true that steroids are synthetic versions of this hormone, the levels provided by the drugs are extremely high. Manipulation of the body's natural hormones will not come anywhere near these levels but will still produce impressive results. One of the key ways to naturally increase test levels in the body is by focusing on compound exercises such as squats, dead-lifts, power cleans, dips and chins or any basic movement that requires the whole body to move in the performance of the exercise. GH can be bought into play by using any technique that promotes the “burn” - the build-up of lactic acid. Nutritionally speaking, you don't want to go super low in fat intake since testosterone is made from cholesterol. Choose healthy fats but keep your fat intake to around 20% of total calories. Additionally, you may notice some protein powders have a fairly high amount of cholesterol, this is one reason why. Insulin is primarily diet controlled, it enhances amino acid absorption and protein synthesis but to much of it released throughout the day will cause fat storage. The common thread here is the connection to protein synthesis, which is defined as the method by which muscles are constructed. It is the very heart of muscle growth!
So, if you are a natural bodybuilder trying to put on muscle mass, most likely you are finding it to be a difficult task. You need to have all the pieces of the puzzle in their proper place if you want to achieve success, not the least being a complete understanding of how to make the most of natural hormone production. Supplements that increase testosterone can be a huge help in this process and yet be safe to use. Let's take a look at some of the primary ingredients in these products:
Tribulus - Tribulus Terrestris is a vine plant that grows in moderate and tropical climates in the United States, Mexico, Eastern Europe, India and China. Tribulus is thought to support a healthy hormone profile by boosting testosterone levels by stimulation of the anterior pituitary gland. This stimulation is thought to promote the production and secretion of Leutinizing Hormone (LH) which can lead to increases in unbound, free-testosterone levels.
Tribulus contains steroidal saponins, alkaloids, and flavanoids, but it's the protodioscins content (the active chemical in tribulus is thought to be protodioscin, which is similar to DHEA) of Tribulus that is believed to be responsible for its ability to boost testosterone levels. Its use for this purpose originated from a Bulgarian study conducted in the 1970s, which found effects on free testosterone and lutenizing hormone in men belonging to infertile couples. As a supplement, it's use can be traced back to the 70's but it has become far more widespread in more recent years.
ZMA - ZMA is a scientifically designed, patent-pending anabolic mineral formula. It contains Zinc Monomethionine Aspartate, Magnesium Aspartate and vitamin B-6, and is an all-natural product that has been shown to increase anabolic hormone levels and muscle strength in weight lifters and athletes. The proportion of ingredients is typically 20-30 mg zinc, 400-500 mg magnesium and 10mg B6.
Longjack - (Eurycoma Longifolia Jack / Tongkat Ali / Malaysian Ginseng / Pasak Bumi) is a bitter tasting herb extracted from the Eurycoma shrub grown in Malaysia and Asia. The Eurycoma Longifolia Jack extract is taken from the roots of the plant. Longjack is believed to stimulate the production of testosterone and to reduce the levels of bound and metabolically inactive testosterone in the body. It is believed to achieve this through the Leutinizing Hormone (LH) pathway.
There are other ingredients that may be involved in boosting test levels but the above three are the most effective and the primary ingredients available in most available test products.
- Helps increase the body's natural production of testosterone.
This is a supplement that impacts the effects of the hormone testosterone, as opposed to providing benefits that are separate from that function, this makes it a specialized product that serves a specific purpose. This is something that has been mentioned elsewhere in these guides and one of the things that make the use of supplements a critical part of your program, you just can't achieve the specialized results without them.
In the human body, testosterone occurs in two states - bound and unbound testosterone. Ninety-eight per cent of natural testosterone is bound to the plasma protein called sex hormone-binding globulin. That makes only 2% of unbound testosterone that is free to circulate in the bloodstream to bind with androgen receptors located at different parts of the body, including the muscle cells. Testosterone directly effects muscle growth by binding to receptors on the surface of muscle cells and amplifying the biochemical signals in the muscles that result in protein synthesis. By boosting protein synthesis in the muscles, testosterone directly increases muscle size. By amplifying the release of other growth factors such as growth hormone, testosterone also promotes the process of protein synthesis in general. The result of all of this is an overall increase in muscle size, strength and recovery. So, with this in mind and the discussion above, it can be seen that the total approach to hormone manipulation will produce the best results and, in the case of testosterone,the use of a well chosen test booster will enhance the effects.
Test products come in primarily capsules, tablets and chewables. This is pretty much a stand alone product, you will not find it as part of to many formula products, this is due to it's specialized nature. Many products will, however, combine various testosterone related ingredients, some may even add in GH releasers for maximum effect. It should be said that these products are safe to use and while they can be effective, they just are not strong enough to cause some of the side effects you may hear about that are related to steroid use.
As to timing, every product will have it's own recommendation but I suggest 2-3 capsules (or tablets) 3 times a day with one dose about an hour prior to training. Dosage should within the guidelines of the product but you will find around 6 to as many as 9 a day suggested depending on the product. As always, carefully read all labels before buying and be sure to buy to your goal.