The link between fitness, testosterone levels and fertility

by Ben Broadhead, personal trainer

People don’t immediately connect physical fitness with fertility, however, there is a justified correlation between the two

I have heard many stories of people who have consistently failed to conceive until they took stock of their physical health. In this article, I describe how fitness and a healthy lifestyle can result in improving male fertility by increasing testosterone.

Low testosterone can be attributed to numerous factors, including inadequate sleep, stress, and environmental toxins

However, I will be only be covering the factors which link directly to my line of work as a personal trainer. Raising testosterone (T) levels won’t guarantee fertility on its own, as this relies on several other factors, such as follicle-stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone, but it will certainly increase your chances of reproduction.

Improved male testosterone levels can enhance sperm quality and quantity, increasing libido and preventing erectile dysfunction

You can achieve this through various training methods and tailor-made diets. Exercise programs should include heavy compound lifts. These movements recruit multiple muscle groups at one time creating more micro-tears in the muscle fibers than other exercises do. The micro-tears are repaired by means of protein synthesis, which requires the release of testosterone. In summary, more micro-tears equals more protein synthesis equals more testosterone.

Some recommended compound exercises are the bench press, deadlift, barbell row and overhead press. Non-gym members can achieve similar levels of stimulus from bodyweight exercises like push-ups and pull-ups if they are done in a slow and controlled manner.

Testosterone is converted into estrogen in fat tissue, which means that being overweight lowers testosterone levels

To reduce fat requires you to be in a calorie deficit, meaning your calorie input is less than your calorie output. This can be achieved by decreasing your input (eating fewer calories) or increasing your output (expending more calories through physical activity). I would advise doing a combination of both.

Eat less 

The first method of fat loss involves downloading a calorie counting app and establishing your maintenance calories – the number of calories required to maintain your current weight.  Once you have discovered this figure, knock off 10 to 20 percent and you will be in a calorie deficit. This percentage is a personal choice; I suggest avoiding losing more than two pounds a week, as this would exceed what is considered a healthy weight loss rate.

Move more

The second method of fat loss is to move more. I recommend cardio exercises as an optimal means of losing fat, as it tends to burn more calories than resistance training. Circuit training or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) would be ideal, although I advise clients to find a method of exercise they enjoy, even if it’s just walking to the shop instead of driving. This ensures sustainability.

Eat Well

Exercise isn’t the only factor in increasing testosterone levels, diet is equally important. A healthy balance of carbs, fats, and proteins is crucial. Consuming too little of any of these will negatively affect T levels. It is recommended that we eat whole foods where possible instead of processed food or ready meals. This will often require cooking from scratch, which can be time-consuming. If time is of the essence, I would recommend that you look into meal prep and cooking in bulk. This has helped me massively in the past. Restricting calories too much for too long or overeating both lower T levels. This may clash with physique goals, particularly for bodybuilders. For these individuals, I would suggest doing a lean bulk for a longer period and cutting in a similar fashion to avoid yo-yo dieting.

Here are some recommended vitamins to add to your diet. It is very hard to get all of these vitamins in adequate proportions, so it is a good idea to take a multivitamin each day to make sure you are covered.

Nutrients that increase testosterone levels and their natural sources

Vitamin A

Sweet Potato, Carrots, Tuna, Butternut Squash, Spinach

Vitamin B

Milk, Beef, Pork, Oats, Bananas

Vitamin C

Kiwi Fruit, Bell Peppers, Strawberries, Oranges, Broccoli

Vitamin D

Mushrooms, Eggs, Cod-liver Oil, Fortified Cereal, Mackerel

Vitamin E

Sunflower Seeds, Almonds, Trout, Shrimp, Olive Oil


Oysters, Poultry, Dark Chocolate, Quinoa, Cashews


Honey, Avocado, Dried Fruits, Lentils, Grapes

If you have any questions about nutrition and fertility, do drop us a line, at and to contact Ben Broadhead click here

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