Many people, even regular gym goers may not know this. Testosterone is the single most important hormone for muscle growth in both men and women besides regulating other aspects of our health. That is why, girls, who have lower testosterone levels than men find it harder to build muscles even if they want to.
High levels of testosterone gives you many great health benefits which include reduction of bad cholesterol, reduced body fat, increased stamina and endurance, stronger sex drive, firmer erections for men and greater muscle size and strength.
Weight training breaks down muscle fibers and this so called male hormone rebuilds them by synthesizing available proteins for the muscles to grow bigger and thus stronger. Intensive weight training also raises the body's own levels of testosterone. Therefore when you train with weights, opt for the more intensive exercises such as squats, dips, barbell rows, chin ups, bench press and deadlifts to not only build muscles, but also to increase your natural testosterone outputs. These are compound or multiple joint exercises which work out many muscle parts and are thus more anabolic than isolation exercises such as dumbbell curls.
Besides focusing on these compound exercises, high intensity effort is also an important factor for the release of your natural testosterone. Aim to work out to muscle failure every time you lift the weights. Needless to say, you have to build up gradually to this level of exertion, therefore don't push yourself too hard in the beginning or when you are new to bodybuilding.
Generally speaking, 20% to 30% of your calories should come from fats that provide essential fatty acids (EFAs) as these EFAs also help to improve testosterone production. These EFAs can be found in flaxseed oil, olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocado, and cold water fish.
Unknown to most people, Soy food sources tends to curb testosterone level and increase estrogen (female hormone), so it may be wiser to avoid them if you are a man. However, an occasional indulgence should be okay.
If you are a drinker, then you should keep your alcohol consumption to a minimum as alcohol also suppresses testosterone production. Furthermore, alcohol is an empty calorie and will contribute to your fat weight gain. It also decreases protein synthesis to feed your muscles well.
This leads us to another hormone called cortisol, sometimes known as our stress hormone. High cortisol levels can also lead to reduced testosterone production. It is for this reason that we should minimize the amount of cortisol our bodies produce. If you have a stressful lifestyle, lack of sleep or even over training, you will increase your level of cortisol. So stay happy, be relaxed and get enough sleep. Do your workouts with rest days in between.
So if you want your muscles to grow faster and bigger, your body must have more testosterone and less cortisol hormones. If you are above 30 years old (testosterone level decreases as you get older), you may wish to supplement with natural herbal testosterone boosters to help your body produce more of this amazing hormone on its own.