Testosterone: To T or Not To T?

Came across this today: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/03/opinion/testosterone-caster-semenya.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share because my personal trainer suggested I consider testosterone supplements or treatment just as a general way of getting fitter. Now I get a full panel of bloodwork every year and my testosterone level is fine per the doctor. Trainer counters with fine for health, yes, but is it optimal for strength and endurance.

Now my natural inclination is to treat testosterone supplements as a load of old bollocks (sorry) simply because there are so many snake-oil vendors out there. Any considered opinions from this group?

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Two things…

If “test-boosters” really worked they would be banned!!

If you go down the Synthetic testosterone route then you are doping.

That’s it really.


Its doping and banned for racing (and I think some sportive type events too, in some countries). And yes, testosterone has a lot of benefits and it works.

You could debate that if you’re not racing or anything like that, it’s up to you. But you’ll likely get a pretty sour reaction from most ‘athlete’ type people.


If a doctor said your low testosterone levels were damaging your health, then yes I would take them and not compete. Otherwise yes it is doping.

Also that article has some pretty shaky science. Testosterone is a recovery and muscle growth and stamina booster, otherwise people wouldn’t take it.


Testosterone boosters are a load of crap, prohormone supplements on the other hand are not. They do work, although less potent than actual steroids. Here in the Uk I believe they are still legal as they are slightly different chemically and get converted within your system.
Legal, but no doubt banned by any anti doping agency. Also, you never know what’s actually in them, and may be adversely affecting your health.
Unless advised by a doctor, I wouldn’t bother.

I’ve listened to several cyclist talk about supplementing with synthetic testosterone. They all said they recover from high stress workouts noticeably quicker and in general felt “stronger”.

Imagine feeling fresh after 200+TSS rides day after day. That’s sort of the affect from what I gather. You are able to train “harder” and therefore cause more adaptation than normal.

If it were me, with normal blood work, I wouldn’t supplement and I would find a new PT. I just don’t understand the psychosis behind people feeling the need to artificially boost performance when they are perfectly normal.

Lastly, it’s hard to read and listen to people justify cheating (not that you are going to use it to compete) in the context of optimizing strength and endurance. It’s NOT normal. I’ve been pushed off the podium many times by guys who later got popped and took subsequent bans. No one wants to lose but, causing others to lose because you cheat is pretty low.


If race/compete - then no. It’s doping and cheating.

If not - then (personally) I wouldn’t as don’t need it per doctor done so why would you!


Agree with the sentiments of others here. The way I see it this sort of things falls into a few buckets

  1. You’re not competing and a doctor says you should supplement hormones for health reasons - in this case I’d go with the doctor’s recommendation and continue not competing but I’d likely mention it to people I ride with - I’d still feel guilty crushing group rides as if I were clean.
  2. You’re not competing and a trainer, training buddy, or inner devil tells you to supplement hormones - in this case I wouldn’t recommend supplementing testosterone
  3. You are competing and a doctor says you should supplement hormones for health reasons - in this case I’d recommend evaluating what the health risks are and weighing the costs of not supplementing vs. continuing to compete. If you go with your doctor and supplement testosterone you should immediately stop competing. If you continue competing you should not supplement
  4. You are competing and a trainer, training buddy, or inner devil tells you to supplement hormones to be faster/fitter - don’t do it, you’re the worst if you do

Obviously many layers of gray between each of these large buckets but they seem to be the general categories.

FWIW I fall into category 3 above and have chosen to continue monitoring my T levels monthly as I try different training approaches to bring me back into the normal ranges. Since diagnosis (a little under a year ago) I’ve consistently had T levels well below the lower end of the range while getting results at the pointy end of P12 road race fields. So…it hasn’t yet impacted my ability to chase results but I imagine if I were to cheat (supplement my testosterone) I could be significantly stronger as the further out of range you are the bigger the gains from cheating (as I understand it anyway)

Eventually (per my doctor) the low numbers I have will impact my training and life in other ways - but thus far I haven’t had any negative impacts in the ways most commonly associated with low T


#1 - STAY AWAY from testosterone “boosters”. In the past these have been useless or a new oral steroid that will be banned soon and can really kill your liver.

#2) Are you going to race? No.

#3) If you are not going to race, it’s your call. There are a lot of misconceptions and bro science surrounding the subject.

Good diet, sleep, and training are far more effective than anything else. A lot of low-t comes from stress, crappy diet, and bad sleep.


Great post and exactly mirrors my views on testosterone and anything else that is banned for competition. Good luck getting your T levels back into a normal range.

Thanks peeps. Like I said, I consider it a load of old bollocks myself and was surprised at getting a suggestion to start it. I’m of the view that if the doc is happy, I’m happy.


You have a trainer advising you to take supplements for a normal blood parameter? Time to get a new trainer.


Well, in fairness his point was my level might be in the normal range, but bigger is better. So there may be no medical reason to increase it, but performance might still improve if you did, whilst still keeping it within the normal range.

Have you watched Icarus on Netflix? It’s about Russian doping in cycling, well worth a watch imo.

Having seen quite a few lads dabble in questionable substances for vanity in the gym, they have at times got in completely wrong other times looked great, but when they are off, they suck! Motivation down, mentality down, health down.

I would take an on point diet with no supplements any day.

It’s doping.

This to me is basically the definition of doping!


Just don’t. It’s doping. A friend of mine used to be a trainer in a fitness studio and she wrote her Master’s thesis on doping. About 20-30 % were on something. I bet most of them did it without the proper medical supervision. Even on case you would, it would give you an unfair and illegal advantage. Plus, you would put your long-term health at risk.

Just don’t.

Fire your trainer immediately - what a joke.


In a recent interview with Charles Paliquin on Tim Ferriss podcast, the personal trainer and bodybuilder said that to boost testosterone in a natural way one has to eat red meat and change sexual partners regularly.


I tried exactly that, but my Vegan wife got really upset :joy: