Deadlifts & Squats Increase Testosterone levels?

September 9th, 2008 by Paul Johnson

I was always told as a bodybuilder, to do squats and deadlifts because they increased testosterone and helped build muscle throughout the body. I decided to try and seek out a definitive answer to these common beliefs.

Studies on Testosterone Increase in Squats & Deadlifts :

It didn't take me too long to stumble across research studies showing that after squats or deadlifts, there was a large increase in serum testosterone levels. Not only is there a increase in testosterone levels, but in Growth Hormone and IGF-1, a couple of other important anabolic hormones. This anabolic release didn't just happen in squats and deadlifts, but also in smaller resistance excercises, including bench press and isolation excercises. Research indicates that the larger more involved excercises, like squats and deadlifts, will have the largest increase in Testosterone and Growth hormone. Although all resistance training has this effect, a curl for example, would have only a very small increase in Testosterone and Growth hormone. A study published in (Int J Sports Med. 1991 Apr;12(2):228-35) showed this hormonal increase after weight training in both men and women.

I was glad to see there is research to back up that squats and deadlifts are good for increasing testosterone levels. However, there is one major caveat. According to studies it seems to be temporary increase, as a few hours to about a day later, your Testosterone and Growth Hormone levels drop below normal and cortisol remains high. This is where your body is recovering hormonally and people warn about overtraining.

After about a couple days your testosterone levels will return to the same or maybe even slightly higher. I couldn't find any research that showed those who squatted or weightlifted in general, have significantly higher body testosterone levels long term. In fact, you have to be careful of overtraining. In a study published in (Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1993 Aug;25(8):929-35), strength lifters who came back from a break of weight training, had a surge in testosterone and lowering of cortisol levels. Therefore, taking a break was actually a good thing for them for restoring / increasing their anabolic hormones. If anything, it looks to be long term weight training, is more likely to cause lower testosterone levels than higher levels, if you don't take a break from training every few weeks and watch workout volume.

Do squats help increase overall muscle mass in body?

This is a little more difficult question to answer. There is no research directly on it, but if we use some logic here, we can probably answer the question. When you do squats, your releasing a substantial amount of anabolic hormones that your whole body can feel the effect. When your testosterone increases in your blod, it reaches all parts of the body. It's not like your arms are going to grow significantly from just a leg workout, but I believe the testosterone increase in the blood can cause muscle growth to other parts of your body. Steroids help you grow by increasing testosterone in the blood, so it makes sense that squats could have a similar stimulus effect on other muscle parts in the body.

  1. Julian on August 27th, 2010

    If i do drop sets on squats and deadlifts for 3 sets pushing my max and improve weight in sets every week or 2 will that make my testorone higher usaully when i push myself to my limits on legs for some reason im able to do more weight on chest and back workouts and reps and sets??

  2. Anabolic Supplements on September 5th, 2010

    I am satisfied with your suggestion, we should advice with our senior before to take any supplement.

  3. Farouk on November 7th, 2010

    i wanted to know that
    thank u 🙂

  4. Heath Erickson on November 11th, 2010

    Who knew these exercises actually increase testosterone. Men are always looking for ways to boost muscle mass.

    Many men will find this information of great benefit. It is crucial to have breaks in between your weight training days. Your body needs time to recover.

    It is also important to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Your body actually builds muscles when you are resting.

  5. Gil on November 19th, 2010

    I totally agree with squats. Squatting is the best to improve core strength and overall body mass

  6. Build Muscle Fast | Sam Timmins on December 1st, 2010

    Squats are an awesome exercise but I highly recommend you keep other compound exercises in mind as well, like bench presses, military presses and deadlifts.

    Also, DO NOT overload the squat bar just to feel huge. You can definitely hurt yourself with this or any other compound exercise.

    -Sam

  7. Muscle Maker Heath on December 2nd, 2010

    I had heard some about how doing certain exercises can boost testosterone which in turn would lead to building muscle. It is great to see some actual research about it.

    I knew was in all the forums I went through they brought this up a bunch. I am assuming that the same effect comes from doing chin ups or push ups as well. I will have to research that more on my own.

    Thanks for this informative article.

  8. Increase Lean Muscle on December 4th, 2010

    This is very helpful! Do you mind if I share this on my blog?

    I never have done a significant amount of deadlifts or squats because they take a toll on my body. I love being sore after lifting, but after deadlifting–no matter how often I do it–always makes my muscles seem like they are going to pop.

    Starting today, I’m going to work them back in to my routine. Nothing quite like a bit of extra testosterone!

  9. IntensePhysique on December 7th, 2010

    Thanks for the article and update.

    Squats and deadlifts strengthen the core as well which in return makes whole body stronger!

  10. Big Muscles 3 Steps on March 11th, 2011

    This article is exactly spot on! I have proof this is true! I embarked on an experiment to see if lifting heavy does cause the pituitary gland to produce more testosterone and growth hormone! I had blood test done before i started my heavy workout regime. My test levels were only a 389ng/dl. I had blood work done again 8 weeks later and to my surprise my levels were an astonishing 479ng/dl. This was amazing to me! All i did was focus on basic compound movements in my workouts, squat, bench, deadlifts,shoulder presses, with 5×5! I also added some auxillary movements in as i felt needed!But all in all! Lift BIG and you will grow!
    Thanks for the article!