Can you perform bodyweight exercises to raise your testosterone levels? Can it really increase your growth hormone levels, too?
Fortunately, yes, compared to popular opinion, you do not need to lift heavy weights at the gym to boost hormone levels, you can do it in your home with any equipment needed. Let us help you understand how this works.
The secret is isometric contractions
Muscles contract in different manners. One type is called isometric contractions. This type of muscle contraction is created when holding certain static positions for around 10 seconds or more.
An example is the push up. This classic exercise is also a great example of producing isometric contractions. However, it isn’t as simple as raising your body up and down. For push up to work as an effective high intensity bodyweight exercise, it has to produce isometric contractions.
To do this, hold the position right before the arms are fully stretched and reach full lockout. At this moment, the back, chest, calves ad glutes are at a contracted state.
Holding this static position recruits a significantly large amount of motor neurons. It does not only recruit the motor neurons that are obviously involved in the exercise, but provides a full body effect of tension.
In the case of a push up, holding the position right before full lockout (right before reaching the top of a push up) not only contracts the chest, back, and muscles of the arms. It also recruits the glutes, thighs and calves, even those of the feet and the hands and other muscles as well.
This holding of the contracted state of various muscles and recruiting large numbers of motor neurons all at once is more effective that most other types of exercise.
So, how does isometric contraction affect testosterone and growth hormone?
Studies found that certain exercises can trigger optimum release of hormones like growth hormone and testosterone. The most effective ones are those that are short but intense types of exercises. Isometric contractions fit into this category.
If you want to seriously raise your hormone levels for greater gains, perform high intensity bodyweight exercises.
It is true that bodyweight exercises do not look as impressive as exercises like squats with heavy barbells or something like crossfit training. Despite being seemingly unimpressive, bodyweight exercises will produce similar striking results than most other types of exercises as long as isometric contractions are practice which builds strength. If isometrics are not used, these exercises turns more into endurance type which are not beneficial for hormone levels.
Top Isometric Contraction Exercises for Testosterone Enhancement
Here are some of the best bodyweight exercises worth doing with this goal in mind:
Producing isometric contraction while doing a push up is different from common push up. This is a step by step guide to the process we alluded to earlier:
- Get into the usual push up stance: both hands flat on the floor and both feet on tiptoes. The body should be straight, parallel to the floor. The arms are kept apart, slightly wider than the width of the shoulders.
- Push off from the floor but do not lock the elbows. This is considered as the “working position”.
- Squeeze the muscles of the chest (pectoralis), calves, glutes and the back. To do this, pretend as if you are moving your elbows inwards towards the middle of the body. This movement will massively recruit the chest muscles.
- Maintain this position for 6 to 10 seconds. This will be counted as 1 rep (repetition).
- A variation is to keep the elbows as close to the sides of the body as possible, almost fully bent. This will place the body almost perpendicular to the floor.
One Arm Biceps Curl Isometric Hold
This is a short yet intense bodyweight exercise.
- Hold the pullup bar with both hands fully extended overhead. The hands are positioned in an underhand grip.
- Pull the body up completely.
- From the top position, lower the body slightly.
- The elbows will look as if in the middle of a lift.
- Remove one hand from its hold on the pullup bar. Place this hand on the forearm that still holds the pullup bar.
- Maintain this position to hold the contraction in the recruited muscles. Hold this for 10 seconds.
- Contract using peak force and involve as many muscles as you can. Make sure that you do not lose tension in any of the muscle groups as you recruit other muscle groups.
Single Leg Standing Calf Contraction
This helps tone the calf and improve this muscle’s development.
- Stand and balance on one leg. The toes on this leg are spread as wide as possible yet still comfortable.
- Tiptoe on this leg. Lift the body up as high as possible while maintaining balance.
- Maintain this position and hold the contraction for 10 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise with the other leg.
Isometric Lateral Hold
The movement is similar to performing side lateral raises while holding dumbbells.
- Position the hands down by the sides, with the palms facing downward.
- Pull the arms up to the sides, bringing them at the level of the shoulders. You may use some light weights such as dumbbells. You may also opt not to carry any weights.
- Squeeze the muscles in the shoulders and all other muscle groups you can while in this position.
- Hold all contractions for 10 seconds then relax.
Dip Bar Hold
The isometric contractions for this exercise are created through the use of a triceps dip bar.
- Get into the triceps position on a dip bar, in a fully extended stance.
- Extend the elbows fully, as far as comfort allows.
- Strengthen the contraction by squeezing the triceps.
- Maintain the contraction and hold it for 10 seconds.
The emphasis of this isometric exercise is the quadriceps. This will not develop the thighs but only contributes to speeding up quadriceps development.
- Brace the body against the wall. The legs should be far apart, as wide as the width of the shoulder.
- Slowly lower the body down to the floor, until the position resembles a seated position.
- Maintain this position and hold the contraction in the muscles for 10 seconds.
Hypertrophy or muscle development can be sped up through isometric bodyweight exercises. This can produce even greater results when combined with other types of exercises such as weight-bearing exercise. One study demonstrated that this type of exercises may also help in increasing the success of rehab by improving muscle strength without load bearing.
Furthermore, the impact of isometric bodyweight exercises on hormones can be optimized through proper diet. Adding whey protein to the diet is one of the best ways to increase levels of growth hormone, IGF-1. This effect was demonstrated in one study which showed proper exercise with the right supplement and diet can help raise hormone levels even further.
Isometric bodyweight exercises are pretty simple. Doing these properly will bring your fitness gains and hormone levels to greater heights.
About the author: Alex Eriksson is the founder of Anabolic Health, a men’s health blog dedicated to providing honest and research backed advice for optimal male hormonal health. Anabolic Health aspires to become a trusted resource where men can come and learn how to fix their hormonal problems naturally, without pharmaceuticals. Check out his guide on 50 Foods That Boost Testosterone or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.