TEST DRIVE

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Testosterone. Test. The Big T. Whatever you call it, as a bodybuilder, you need more of it in your system. The equation is unfortunately simple -- if your body isn’t releasing an adequate amount of T, you flat out won’t grow. Now the good news. By manipulating your training and diet, you can naturally escalate your levels of this anabolic male hormone. Intrigued? If you call yourself a bodybuilder, you’d better be.

UNLEASH THE BEAST | A natural increase in your testosterone levels can have a dramatic impact on your ability to add muscle mass, improving your physique through several different mechanisms: by stimulating protein synthesis, it helps to increase muscle mass; by encouraging fat cells to store less fat and pull more from storage, it promotes fat loss; and by enhancing the firing of motor nerves that supply muscle fibers, it immediately increases muscle strength.

Of course, higher levels of testosterone are also associated with aggression in male athletes. Often, this is portrayed as a negative, but to a point, it can be a huge positive for bodybuilders seeking to improve results and performance in the gym. Both strength and aggression can be important tools for your workouts -- if you train when your strength and aggression are highest, your intensity and your results will be magnified. Increasing testosterone is one of the best ways to get more from your bodybuilding program. With that in mind, FLEX designed this six-week training, diet and supplementation regimen to boost your testosterone levels and, ultimately, your bodybuilding results.

TEST TRAINING | While you’re on this program, your training will focus on multijoint exercises performed with heavy weights and low-to-moderate reps. This protocol involves using more muscle mass for each rep, which helps to stimulate greater testosterone release.

As noted in “The Testosterone Workouts” sidebar (in the January 2006 issue of FLEX), you’ll follow a simple two-day bodypart split, training chest, shoulders, back and abs in workouts one and three, and legs and arms in workouts two and four.

WHEN TO TRAIN | Ideally, you should train in the morning when testosterone levels are at their peak (up to double nighttime levels). In fact, guys who lift in the morning have been found to have 10-15% higher resting testosterone levels than those who lift in the evening. Also, research shows that training in the morning leads to a higher testosterone-to-cortisol ratio (about double the ratio for training later in the day). This is beneficial because cortisol inhibits testosterone’s functions within muscle cells.

When a high testosterone-to-cortisol ratio is maintained, cortisol is less effective at inhibiting testosterone and, therefore, testosterone function is maximized. Keeping testosterone high is not only important to stimulate muscle growth following weightlifting, but lofty levels before and during weightlifting can immediately increase muscle strength as well as aggression (needed for kick-ass workouts).

For more information on when to rest, how much to train, diet and supplements, pick up your copy of the January 2006 FLEX available on newsstands now.

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