Have you ever heard the advice that says you should keep your bodybuilding workouts to a time of between 40 minutes and an hour because anything longer will cause a drop in testosterone?
Has common sense ever had you asking: ‘Who really gives a fat rat’s ass?’
Stay with me on this.
Since we all know that muscles grow during rest between workouts as opposed to during the workouts themselves; why should we be so concerned about a minor and temporary drop in this hormone during a workout? It’s the testosterone level I’m averaging while I’m recuperating between workouts in which I’m more interested.
Back in 1990, when I was twenty-six years old, I purchased a workout course called ‘The Bulgarian Power Burst System’. This thing was touted at the time as being the be-all/end-all of bodybuilding programs. It instructed its eager adherents in short and frequent workouts of no more than forty minutes. Of course, this advice was given under the pretense of keeping testosterone levels high.
Looking back, the notion that this alone was making the Bulgarians into super-athletes is ridiculous. It’s widely known that these behind-the-Iron-Curtain power-lifters were “sauced up” on loads of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Why would they give a flying-you-know-what about their natural testosterone levels when they’d knocked their endogenous hormone production out of commission with the use of anabolic drugs?
Bulgarian weight lifters didn't have a job and life to attend like you and I do. They lived and breathed training - and took in their "supplements."
Would you like to know what strict adherence to the “testosterone maximizing” ‘Bulgarian Power Burst System’ got me in 1990?
It caused my muscle gains to drop at an alarming rate. I became sick more often as my body’s defenses went in the dumper from all the overtraining. I lost size and strength. In other words, whatever the imperceptible benefits of higher workout testosterone levels (if there were any) – they were easily negated by many other aspects of the protocol that were terribly wrong.
Think about this for a minute. If I work my biceps today and it takes those muscles 10 days to fully recuperate and be ready for the next workout, there’ll be 240 hours for them to grow stronger. If my testosterone level drops significantly for two hours after the workout, that time window represents a whopping .8% of my biceps recuperation time. Even if it drops for a few workouts of other muscle groups in the interim (four, let’s say), that’s still only 4% of my total recuperation time. And this isn’t even considering how small the testosterone drop might really be.
Here’s something else to think about. What if working my biceps for an hour and a half will drop my testosterone enough to require one more rest day between workouts (doubtful). Let’s say that working them for forty minutes instead won’t cause the drop in testosterone but it also won’t give me a well-rounded biceps workout. Which one should I go with? Should I get a half-assed biceps workout that leaves my testosterone level slightly higher for a whopping (whatever) sixty minutes? Or should I get a better workout for my biceps and take one more day off to go to the beach? I could have better biceps and more fun showing them off with the second choice.
Mark my words: It is excessive workout frequency (like advocated by the Bulgarian Power Burst System) that creates the biggest drag on natural bodybuilding progress. And it’s adherence to nearly inconsequential principles (like 40 minute workouts advocated by… well, ‘The Bulgarian Power Burst System’) that divert too many workout enthusiasts from principles that could give them muscle gains.