Testosterone. It's a word that immediately conjures up images of stereotypical manliness, and with good reason. This elixir of Masculinity has been revered by Men since it was first discovered. Even before the chemical isolation of Testosterone in a lab, Men would consume exotic herbs and strange animal parts in the hope of boosting their courage, their libido and their strength. What they were unknowingly trying to do was increase their Testosterone.
Is the hype around this mystical hormone justified?
Yes, it is, and not just for helping you to hone a muscular physique or become more rampant between the sheets. Although it will do both without doubt.
The effects and implications of this marvellous compound go much, much further.
As mentioned in previous posts average Testosterone levels (or 'T' levels) in Men are now at an all time low.
Is this desirable for society? After all, high Testosterone levels are associated with violent crime, impulsive tendencies, infidelity, reduced empathy and a disregard for authority. I've even heard it suggested Men should be a regulated gender, since they are full of a steroid that is legally restricted.
It is just as well then, that our environment seems to be doing a sterling job at semi-castrating Men. Low testosterone levels increase social compliance, reduce aggression, increase apathy and generally make you more docile. Unless you have taken steps against this, your Testosterone levels are being slowly bled dry by your environment and lifestyle.
There are many reasons for this. Poor nutrition, constant high carbohydrate intake, environmental Oestrogens, lack of sunlight, poor sleep patterns, incessant psychological stress and a lack of exercise are obvious candidates.
Some people may see this as a good thing. After all, what society would want potentially aggressive, muscular Men, with a disregard for authority, roaming wild and free?
Well, I do. A well developed pre-frontal cortex, that is, an educated and enquiring mind, is ample guidance for a true red-blooded hormone profile.
Perhaps more soberingly, having a low Testosterone level increases your mortality risk. Yes, if you have low Testosterone, especially as you age, you are more likely to die.
It is a woeful contradiction that female Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) is mainstream and readily accepted. Yet, Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) is frowned upon by most practitioners, despite the benefits it confers to Men lacking in reasonable Testosterone levels.
Perhaps it is the association with drug taking, cheating and ‘roid rage’ that still tarnishes this hormone in the minds of the medical community. But aside from Testosterone’s desirable anabolic and tumescent properties, let us consider some of its deeper, more psychological effects.
Testosterone is anxiolytic. That is, it reduces anxiety. Women generally show more anxiety than Men, and of all behavioural parameters this is most sensitive to Testosterone. The reasons behind this are due to a metabolite of Testosterone, called DHT. In a world full of stress and constant social scrutiny, the mental confidence booster from healthy ’T’ levels is simply invaluable. To be able to keep your head when others around you have lost theirs, and respond with measured and effective action. Perhaps most importantly, to be unfazed by how others are judging you. This is part of what Testosterone brings to the fray.
Testosterone increases ‘drive’. It drags you off the couch and into the real world. But hang on a second. If Testosterone is so good, why hasn’t Natural Selection already selected us to be drowning in the stuff? Well, as we said Testosterone increases your drive. Your, ‘get up and go’. It makes you do things. In a primal environment, this is good…up to a point. Roaming around fighting and being fearless drastically increases your chances of being killed before passing on your genes. Despite this natural check on really high ’T’ levels, restoring or optimising your own Testosterone levels will release energies long forgotten. One of the clinical features of a low ’T’ level is listlessness and fatigue. How does Testosterone help this? Well aside from the fact it builds bigger muscles, and creates more red blood cells to fuel them, it acts directly on receptors in the brain. Testosterone boosts Dopamine and Acetylcholine, two key neurotransmitters that in short, give you ‘drive’. You know the Men, they have that sparkle of intent in their eyes, a spring in their step and they seek out challenge and adventure. You get a lift being in their company, they exude energy and purpose. They are the antithesis of apathy and sloth. Which leads us nicely on to depression.
Testosterone combats depression. Is the low Testosterone causing depression, or a symptom of it? We don’t know yet. But what is clear is that TRT is at least as effective in the right cases as the anti-depressant medication dished out like sweets by the health care system. How many clinically depressed Men do you know who bristle with passion for life? Who laugh and love and compete with abandon? Me neither. Depression is courted by obesity and malaise. A sense of hopelessness, lost libido and low self esteem. It is little wonder that many of the basic tools for improving natural Testosterone levels work wonders for depression. In upcoming posts, I hope to share some stories from Men who have followed The Way of Alpha and overthrown this dark melancholy.
Testosterone improves visuospatial ability. In utero, Testosterone exposure organises the brain structure. Once in adulthood, Testosterone, activates the brain. This is partly the reason that Men are different in their mental abilities than women, and partly why they then seek out specific scenarios to test this once in adult hood. All Men will be able to relate to the innate satisfaction of tracking an object, and seeing it hit the intended mark or target. It is something we find strangely compelling and often addictive. All the way from highly modernised sports like Golf, to visceral more primitive activities like hunting, it is bred into us for good reason.
Testosterone increases competitiveness. And vice versa. Competing, and especially winning, increases your Testosterone levels. Increasing your Testosterone levels, increases your competitiveness. It is the perfect feedback mechanism for real life, where the joy of competing is essential, because competing is essential. I have personally seen this scorned so many times, and it always hurts me that an innate Masculine behaviour like this should be stifled. You can never remove competition, and because of this, Testosterone exists to push us towards either losing or winning. Life was never meant to exist in a boring stalemate. Like it or not, Men are all warriors, and warriors need to compete. They need the struggle. The form of competition need not be some gladiatorial contest. The challenge can be against themselves in the gym or in the executive arena. It could be toiling against the adversity of nature or just a good old fashioned kick around with the boys after work. Men need to immerse themselves against a worthy cause. Their Testosterone whispers in their ears, goading them to compete, and then rewards them with roars of encouragement upon victory.
In conclusion, Testosterone alters the way Men think. It makes you more confident, more certain about your choices. Your focus narrows and your intensity heats up. It drives a passion for life and an energy to explore, build and conquer.
Yet the competitiveness and impulsion can be detrimental if coupled with a lack of ambition and intelligence. But matched to the self awareness of a keen and introspective mind, it can transmute into something fearsomely effective.
Think about everything around you right now. It was plucked from thought into reality. That takes drive and focus and confidence. It takes a certain mindset, but above all it takes action. Testosterone is there, behind the scenes of all those qualities, like an unseen bellow fanning the flames.
Testosterone is one of the great forces that helped Men discover new lands, build great empires and overthrow oppressors.
I don’t want to see Men walking around, shoulders cowed and eyes disinterested. Zombies of their true form, meekly going about the duties society has burdened them with.
Nor do I want to see feral louts strutting around, intent on mindless violence and senseless anarchy.
The essential accomplices to burgeoning Testosterone levels are a well developed mind, and a burning sense of purpose.
But before we address these, we must first optimise your Testosterone levels.
Part 2 of the Testosterone series will look at building a Testosterone optimising protocol from the most respected sources on the internet, the scientific literature, and then testing it with some clear objective markers.
Leave a comment, and as always, Keep Grinding!