I do steriods. I don’t have back zits and my balls haven’t shrunk. Neither orally administered nor injected, my body produces them naturally and they are fucking awesome. I am awesome. I don’t have roid rage except when I want to punch my wife’s cat. I restrain this urge and he lives another day to stare at me with that smug look on his face. Prick.
I addressed the importance of strength and suggested readers embark upon a strength bias (if strength is one of their weaknesses) in Volume I of the strength series. While some debate the necessity of supplemental strength work, CrossFit alone will elicit a beneficial hormonal response. Think of it as a fitness induced hormone therapy program.
No matter how you incorporate strength (biased or through regular programming), there are huge benefits with regards to your body’s production and/or regulation of hormones. Besides increased testosterone, the hormonal responses affect cortisol, growth hormone, lactate, insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-I. You can read about those other hormones here.
I want to focus on the awesomest hormone: testosterone. It’s a naturally occurring steroid with two main functions: building tissue (anabolic) and promoting libido (androgenic). Both men and women produce this hormone and while the effects are similar, there are gender-specific differences. Allow me to impregnate your brainvaginas with my scienceknowledgeweiner in the form of a sweet Venn diagram.
Okay, you get it. Testosterone is important and you can raise your own levels simply by doing CrossFit with or without a strength bias. Limiting factors are present, but we can capitalize on the production (without synthetic assistance) through several methods.
Research shows testosterone levels are at their highest during training which includes: functional/compound movements, heavy loads and high intensity. As CrossFitters, we fucking got that shit. Additionally, the training time should not exceed a total of 45-60 minutes. After that point, testosterone levels drop. With regards to volume, lower rep schemes tend to provoke the highest testosterone response.
Studies show secretion occurs according to circadian rhythms. For most people, testosterone levels are at their highest in the morning. Therefore strength work done in the morning might be advantageous, though I doubt by much. What matters more is your nutrition. Pre and post workout meals should provide the necessary fuel and recovery to elevate levels of testosterone in order to facilitate the anabolic function of tissue-building. Specifics on that will be showcased in a future post.
The next time you do some heavy squats; imagine a steroid-filled syringe sticking out of one of your ass cheeks. Actually, don’t. There is absolutely no benefit in that imagery. But, remember this: CrossFit with or without strength work doesn’t just benefit the specific muscles being worked in the particular movement. It’s a shot of testosterone which will benefit your entire body on many levels.
Thanks to Lee “Pale Horse” Mannion for contributing to this post.