Declining testosterone levels in men have become one of the biggest concerns for modern doctors. Around the world, men’s testosterone is plummeting at rates faster than what should be occurring with natural aging. In many cases, these falling t-levels are preventable with a few lifestyle changes. Resistance training in particular is highly encouraged for men as it has been shown to support healthy testosterone levels, often eliminating many of the symptoms of low testosterone.
Does it matter which type of resistance training you perform? Is there a gold standard of strength training that can help the most? Traditional hypertrophy-focused weightlifting programs have been the go-to for scientific studies, but what about niche-type methodologies such as Strongman? Let’s take a look at a few recent studies to see which is better for testosterone boosting: weightlifting or Strongman training.
Weightlifting vs. Strongman: Study One
Does Strongman training elicit a greater response in testosterone than basic compound lifts in a weightlifting program? That’s the question researchers asked during a study that was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Sixteen men in their twenties with previous weightlifting experience were selected for the study. Each of the men completed one of three resistance training programs: two of which were Strongman style training and one was a traditional hypertrophic or growth-focused. Here’s a breakdown of the acute variables used in each program:
- Sets: 3
- Repetitions: 10
- Intensity: 75% of one-repetition maximum – Performed until failure
- Rest break: 2 minutes between sets / 3 minutes between exercises
- Exercises: Tire flip, chain drag, farmers walk, keg carry, and atlas stone lift
The results? Researchers concluded that while there was a dramatic boost in testosterone in each of the training programs, there was no statistically significant difference between each program. In other words, Strongman training produced an equal effect on testosterone levels as much as a traditional muscle-building program.
Weightlifting vs. Strongman: Study Two
Another more recent study published in the same journal wanted to compare Strongman training vs. resistance training on more levels than just testosterone. Researchers wanted to see how each style of training affected the following parameters:
- Blood lactate
- Salivary testosterone
- Heart rate
- Caloric expenditure
Researchers selected ten healthy men in their twenties. Each subject completed the Strongman training program, rested for seven days, then completed the resistance training program. The Strongman program consisted of the sled drag, farmer's walk, one-arm dumbbell clean and press, and tire flip. The resistance training program consisted of the squat, deadlift, bench press, and power clean.
At the conclusion of the study, researchers found that all parameters were increased especially caloric expenditure and fat burning. While testosterone levels did increase, there was no difference between the Strongman training and the resistance training program.
Are you currently using a resistance training program and you’re having trouble with your squat? Check out our article on how to master the back squat.
Weightlifting vs. Strongman: Study Three
Let’s take a look at this from a different approach: We know that the more fat a man has on his body, especially around the belly, the more likely he is to have low testosterone levels. With that said, shouldn’t a guy go with the type of resistance training that is best for blasting fat and improving strength and performance?
In a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Strongman training was put up against traditional resistance training to see which one was more effective for muscular function and performance. Theoretically, the more athletic you become, the better you can perform, and the more fat you’ll burn.
Over the course of seven weeks, researchers took thirty volunteers and randomly assigned them to either the Strongman or resistance training program. Researchers ensured that each program was “matched for biomechanical similarity with equal loading.” Volunteers performed their program twice per week, and at the conclusion, they were tested in the following variables:
- Body composition
- Change of direction
So what did researchers discover at the end of the study? Both the Strongman and resistance training programs were equally effective with little to no difference in the amount of improvement. In other words, Strongman was as good if not a bit better at improving body composition, strength and power levels, speed, and change of direction performance.
Since Strongman was effective at increasing lean muscle tissue while decreasing fat mass, two essential variables in maintaining healthy testosterone, it should be considered an excellent way to boost testosterone levels.
Weightlifting vs. Strongman: Which One Should You Choose?
Given the three studies we reviewed, the question is which should you choose for more testosterone: weightlifting or Strongman training? In each of the studies, Strongman training was just as effective, if not a little more so, than traditional resistance training in increasing testosterone levels as well as body composition and performance.
With that, it really comes down to preference and what is going to get you excited to step into the weight room. You can take the bodybuilding or Strongman route, but the point is to get on one of the paths now to do something about your testosterone levels.
If you’re having trouble deciding, take into consideration that Strongman training is very practical outside of the gym. Strongman training strengthens movement patterns that help you perform everyday activities. This is especially true of your core where all movement originates. We also find Strongman to be more fun. It’s intense and it’s different than your basic squat, deadlift, bench press workouts. It’s never dull, and you’re in a fun battle with yourself to be faster and lift more.
Want to know more about Strongman training? Read our article on the benefits of Strongman Training.
Strongman Workout for Testosterone
Think you want to try Strongman training to increase your testosterone? We have the perfect workout for you. Some of these exercises may require special equipment that you can buy for your home or find in a specialized Strongman gym. If you want to go the at-home route, here are a few pieces of equipment we would recommend purchasing:
- Weightlifting Belt
- Alpha Grips (if you don’t have thick bars at home)
- Knee Sleeves
- Power Training Sled
- Wrist Wraps
Give this Strongman workout a try for 6 weeks, and let us know your results on Instagram.
- Deadlifts: 3 sets of 10 repetitions
- One-Arm Dumbbell Clean and Press: 3 sets of 6 to 8 repetitions
- Tire Flip: 3 sets of failure (do as many as you can)
- Sled Drag: 3 sets of 50 feet
- Farmer's Walk: 3 sets of 50 feet
Are you new to the deadlift? Do you want to make sure your form is flawless? Check out our deadlifting checklist that tells you everything you need to know to perfect your form and execution.
Other Tips to Increase Testosterone
Resistance training, whether it is Strongman or hypertrophic, is only one way to support healthy testosterone levels in men. Here are a few more things you can do to ensure you are fighting back against low testosterone:
Check Your Diet: This is one of the most important things to change if you want to improve your testosterone. Many processed foods contain soy, which is made up of estrogenic compounds that lower testosterone and increase estrogen. Focus on eating a diet based on natural and whole food choices with lean meats such as chicken breasts and grass-fed beef, complex carbohydrates of sweet potatoes and brown rice, and healthy fats such as coconut oil and salmon. Try to stay away from anything out of a box.
Get Enough Sleep: Studies have shown a direct correlation between the amount of sleep you get each night and your levels of testosterone and growth hormone. What’s the connection? Growth hormone levels are highest when you’re sleeping, particularly between 10 p.m. and midnight. If you’re missing out of sleep, you’re putting your testosterone levels at risk. Strive to get no less than seven hours of sleep each night. Be sure to power down your electronics as the light from your phone or computer can decrease melatonin production and increase your risk of insomnia.
Consider Supplements: While diet and exercise are the best and most proven ways to maintain healthy testosterone levels, supplements should also be considered as a way to support your t-levels. There are several ingredients that have received a lot of positive attention and results from scientific studies. If you’re going to take a supplement, consider one of the following:
- Vitamin D (should be taken with a healthy fatty acid such as MCT oil or coconut oil)
- Panax Ginseng
Weightlifting vs. Strongman: Which Do You Prefer?
Which type of workout do you enjoy more? If you’re performing resistance training now, would you consider changing your current program to Strongman training? Let us know in the comments below!