My name is Oskar Faarkrog , I’m a Certified Personal Trainer from the International Sports Science Association and founder of SKINNY-FAT TRANSFORMATION which has been read by over 6 million men from all over the world.
I’ve researched natural testosterone optimization for 10 years, trained over 800 clients in my Online Transformation Program for Skinny-Fat Guys and also hold a degree from the 2nd hardest university program to get into in Denmark (international business and politics).
At age 18, I was diagnosed with low testosterone levels.
While having low testosterone levels, I dealt with a lot of other related health problems. I was skinny-fat, I had severe digestive issues, acne, depression, gynecomastia and erectile dysfunction.
I managed to deal with most of these health problems after boosting my natural testosterone production with 270%.
I have one of the highest (if not the highest) verifiable natural testosterone increases you can find online and have applied my testosterone optimization strategies to my skinny-fat clients with great success.
In this guide I’ll teach you how being skinny-fat and having low testosterone go hand in hand, why bodyweight training is the best way to train for skinny-fat guys and how I boosted my testosterone with 270%.
what is skinny-fat?
Being skinny-fat essentially means that you are under muscled on the upper body while carrying excess body-fat around the estrogenic areas of your body (lower chest and lower waist):
Most skinny-fat guys have the following physical characteristics:
- Man boobs or puffy nipples.
- Love handles.
- Minimal upper body muscle mass (especially on the shoulders, arms, upper chest and lats).
- No definition on the body.
- Wide waist or wide hips.
- Low strength levels compared to other people your age.
- Lots of fat cells in the lower waist, lower chest and hips which makes it easy to gain fat there.
When you try to bulk up with heavy weights you end up fatter with minimal muscle gains.
When you try to lose body-fat you end up losing the small amount of muscle mass you have.
If you’ve managed to lose fat before, you’ve most likely regained it all after a while.
If you’ve gained muscle mass before, it was mostly accompanied with a lot of excess fat gain.
The truth is that skinny-fat guys have the hardest time transforming their physique when compared to the 3 traditional body types:
It’s the hardest because when you’re skinny-fat, you get all the downsides of both the naturally skinny guy with a fast metabolism and the naturally fat guy with a lot of muscle mass underneath the fat.
You get naturally high body-fat levels on a skinny bone structure with minimal muscle mass.
My experience being skinny-fat from age 10 until 19
I was skinny-fat throughout all my teenage years and it greatly affected my confidence and quality of life.
After optimizing my testosterone levels, I’ve lost 60 pounds of body-fat and gained 40 pounds of muscle mass. You can see my transformation with monthly progress photos in my YouTube video below:
It took me almost 4 years of hard and consistent training to reach the physique you see in the last after photo. (This is including the first 2 years of training that were essentially wasted).
When I posted my transformation online back in 2013, it was viewed by hundreds of thousands of people on YouTube and shared on reddit, 4chan and the bodybuilding.com forums.
The comments below sum up what I’m about to say:
At first I thought that perhaps I’m the only one who has such bad genetics and simply don’t respond to training but then I looked everywhere online and saw that there are almost no real skinny-fat transformations out there.
Most skinny-fat transformations you find online are tricks.
Either it’s a naturally skinny guy with great genetics who has just a little bit of fat or a guy who has previously been in great shape.
Popular Training Advice Doesn’t Work For Skinny-Fat Guys (I Trained For 2 Years Without Results)
During my first 2 years of training I followed all the popular training and diet advice that is still recommended to this day:
- Heavy 5×5 weight training. (This was my main focus and I built up to a 400 pound deadlift, 315 pound squat and 220 pound bench press).
- Bodybuilding splits (PUSH/PULL/LEGS, UPPER/LOWER or even 1 body part per day).
- Counting Calories.
- Focusing on hitting a high protein intake.
- Going low carb.
- Doing short HIIT sessions to lose fat.
I followed all these methods during my first 2 years of training but I got no results:
When I tried to bulk up to gain muscle mass, I got stronger on all my barbell lifts but I got no visible muscle mass on the upper body.
The small amount of muscle mass I gained went straight to the legs and glutes.
When I tried to cut down body-fat, I maintained most of my strength but ended up looking almost the same as when I started.
At first I thought that perhaps I’m the only one who has such bad genetics and simply don’t respond to training but then I looked everywhere online and saw that there are almost no real skinny-fat transformations out there.
That’s when I started this website all the way back in 2013 and within 4-5 months it blew up to 100,000 monthly visitors.
Most of my readers had been in the exact same shoes as me and also went through years of training without much to show for it.
Why Being Skinny-Fat Is Mainly A Hormonal Problem (Low Testosterone)
On average young men today have just half of the testosterone production of the average young man in the 1940s.
In the 1940s the average young man was walking around with a testosterone production of 900 NG/DL while today the average young man is somewhere around 400-500 NG/DL and most skinny-fats are somewhere around 200-400 NG/DL. (The natural range goes from 300-1100 NG/DL and I personally went from 297 NG/DL to 1105 NG/DL).
This is why it was rare in our grandfathers’ generations to see young skinny-fat guys with man boobs and the strength of a 60 year old woman.
Our testosterone levels have been steadily declining each decade since the 1940s as a result of many factors but here are some of them:
- Our diets have changed from a natural diet consisting of whole foods high in micronutrients to a diet full of processed foods, soy, refined sugar and minimal in quality seafood, vegetables and fruits.
- Women are getting pregnant at a later age.
- The use of pharmaceutical drugs is widespread. Many of them impact hormonal production.
- Our lifestyles are higher stress with bigger demands from work. Most people are stressed out, sleep late and do not get the required 7-9 hours of sleep. Your sex hormones are produced during sleep.
- Lack of sunlight. Optimal vitamin D3 and a good circadian rhytm are imperative to maximize natural testosterone production.
- Less exercise and micronutrient rich foods which leads to worse circulation and issues such as varicocele (veriscose veins in your testicles). 20% of men right now have some degree or varicocele which can impact testosterone production.
Throughout the last 7 years I’ve recommended that my skinny-fat Online Transformation Program clients check their testosterone levels.
By looking through all their blood tests I’ve found that most of them have a naturally low testosterone production.
Here are some of the symptoms of low testosterone levels:
- Hard time gaining strength and muscle mass on the upper body.
- Excess body-fat around the lower waist and lower chest.
- Man boobs.
- Weak skeletal structure (small ankles, wrists and shoulders).
- Lack of morning wood. (You should wake up with a morning erection most days of the week).
- Brain fog / ADHD.
- Sleep problems and low energy levels.
- Skin problems such as acne.
As you can see, the symptoms of low testosterone affect both your mental and physical health.
Testosterone is the male hormone of vitality and the main muscle building hormone in the body.
It controls nearly every function in your body and when you are not in the optimal range, you’ll find it very difficult if not impossible to build a good physique and have a high quality of life.
The benefits of raising testosterone levels in terms of training and body-composition are massive:
- Faster recovery between training sessions.
- More muscle gains (especially on the upper body) and more fat loss (especially around the estrogenic areas which are the man boobs, love handles and hips).
- Better sleep and higher energy levels.
And health wise you’ll see an increase in motivation, energy levels, libido and focus.
As a result, my #1 focus with clients is to optimize their training, nutrition and lifestyle to support a high natural testosterone production.
Here’s a picture of Rikesh Murali from India. He’s been following my testosterone boosting strategies from my Online Transformation Program for several years and here are the results:
When Rikesh started training he was unable to do a single pull up and he was soft all over.
Now he’s almost 20 KG leaner and working daily with weighted pull ups and weighted dips.
The crazy thing is that he lives in a rural area in India that has no gym access.
All his results have been achieved with the use of bodyweight exercises and very minimal equipment.
Here are some more examples of my Online Transformation Program clients who followed my approach to transform their body:
Francis from the US:
Niklas Hanhisalo from Finland:
Harshit Godha from India:
Max from Netherlands:
Madhuranga from Sri Lanka:
You’ll see in the photos above that most of them had similar physical characteristics.
They all had very soft looking physiques with minimal lean mass on the upper body.
Most of them had previously trained for months or years with heavy weights and high protein diets before the before photos were taken.
Their results only started happening once they followed the strategies from my Online Transformation Program which revolves around bodyweight training and testosterone optimization.
Training with bodyweight exercises and raising testosterone levels through diet are synergistic and in this guide I’ll explain how it all fits together.
What the Science Says About High Testosterone: Inactive Men With High Testosterone Gain More Muscle Mass Compared to Active Men With Low Testosterone
Let’s take a look at the science of testosterone and its massive impact on muscle gains.
All the way back in 1996, there was a study done on the effect of testosterone on muscle growth before.
The study involved 4 groups:
- Group 1: Didn’t train, and didn’t inject testosterone, however they received a placebo.
- Group 2: Didn’t train, but injected testosterone.
- Group 3: Trained, but didn’t inject testosterone, however they received a placebo.
- Group 4: Trained, and injected testosterone.
All groups had the same diet, and the two groups that trained, did it 3 times a week by using the same program. Here are the results of this study:
The graph shows the groups starting from the left 1-2-3-4.
The interesting finding in this study is that the group that injected testosterone but didn’t train gained almost twice the amount of muscle mass as the group that trained but without testosterone injections.
Finally, the group that trained with testosterone injections gained 3 times as much muscle mass as the group that trained without.
So how does this relate to low testosterone levels? Well, it clearly shows that increasing your testosterone levels has a HUGE impact on your ability to gain muscle mass.
The guys who sat on the couch for 12 weeks straight and injected testosterone gained more muscle mass than the guys who trained consistently but didn’t inject.
In other words, by doubling or even tripling your natural testosterone, you dramatically boost your ability to gain muscle mass.
When you’re someone with a naturally low testosterone level (say 150-300 NG/DL) you can achieve anywhere from a 2-4X increase in your natural production and that’s going to have a massive impact on your ability to gain muscle mass, lose body-fat, sleep, sex drive and energy levels.
my friend tonni with naturally high testosterone levels
I have a close friend called Tonni.
He’s a natural athlete with a lot of muscle mass and high testosterone levels.
When he trains, he trains very hard.
However, he’s often very busy and just doesn’t have the time to train and diet.
During these times he can go for weeks or even months with barely any workouts while eating lots of “bad” food.
But he still maintains a highly muscled physique during these times:
I have never seen him truly out of shape.
I also went to a high school class that had several guys that had greek god type of bodies and they barely exercised.
You probably knew a few guys like that in your life too.
Guys like that have a naturally high testosterone production.
Their bodies are naturally muscular without much training and when they do decide to train, they gain muscle mass regardless of what type of training they do and at a much faster rate than their peers.
So why exactly does testosterone have such a powerful effect on body-composition?
Why do you see a faster recovery between training sessions, more muscle gains and less fat build up and higher energy levels?
Testosterone improves your nutrient partitioning.
This means that when you go from low testosterone to high testosterone, your body becomes better at utilizing food for muscle gains.
Excess Calories you eat will become more likely to be used for building muscle mass rather than being stored as fat.
In other words, you go from being in a fat storage mode into a more anabolic, muscle building mode.
It completely changes your physiology and turns you from a hardgainer that doesn’t respond well to training and dieting into an easy gainer.
You start playing the body-transformation game on EASY instead of HARD.
Your goal should be to get your body working closer to the way these high testosterone guys do.
You want to turn yourself from a hardgainer into a guy who looks like he has great genetics.
After boosting my own natural testosterone production with 270% I have achieved this and seen a huge difference in the way my body packs on muscle mass.
Within a year of boosting my testosterone levels to the high end of the natural range I built the physique in the photo below:
This was 8 years ago where I had already built my ideal physique and weighed around 195 pounds (88 KG) at 6’2″ (188 CM).
That was the first time in my life where I started getting compliment from friends, family and random girls at parties.
This had a dramatic impact on my confidence and overall life quality.
Since then I have only trained because I enjoy the process and I have not actively tried to bulk up and add mass.
Despite that, my bodyweight has increased 24 KG (53 LBS) the last 8 years.
Today I weigh 246 pounds (112 KG) at 6’2″ (188 CM) and find it too easy to pack on muscle mass:
Throughout the last 8 years my bodyweight has consistently been climbing and I’ve become bigger and bigger without even trying.
I never thought I would reach the point where I would find it too easy to pack on muscle mass.
E.g. if I want to grow my chest I just do more diamond push ups for a week and within 5-7 days both my wife and her family will notice growth.
I’ve long ago reached the point where I look too big and almost no clothes fit on me and where adding more muscle mass doesn’t make me look any more aesthetic.
The reason to why I continue training is because I fell in love with the process.
This is why I strongly believe that raising testosterone levels is the key to achieve a true skinny-fat transformation that you can maintain long-term.
I have personally observed that friends with high testosterone pack on muscle mass effortlessly, I have gone through this process myself, I’ve seen hundreds of clients go through this process and the science of muscle gains with higher testosterone levels is conclusive on this.
Why You Should boost testosterone naturally
The fastest way to raise your testosterone levels is to go to an anti aging or hormone optimization clinic and get on testosterone replacement therapy.
However, this should only be done as a last resort because testosterone replacement therapy increases your risk of blood clots. (See 2019 study here: Association of Testosterone Therapy With Risk of Venous Thromboembolism Among Men With and Without Hypogonadism).
Blood clots are one of the the main medical conditions that kill people through strokes and heart attacks, therefore, before you even consider testosterone replacement therapy, you need to get thoroughly checked out by a hematologist for blood clotting factors such as Factor Leiden V and Protein S Deficiency.
In addition, testosterone replacement therapy, shuts down your natural testosterone production, shrinks your testicles and makes you infertile. To counteract these things, you have to take another prescription called HCG (and hope that you tolerate it well) and also consider freezing some sperm in case you want to have children later.
The main point is that while taking testosterone replacement therapy sounds like a fast and easy solution, doing it properly is a big long-term commitment and it comes with a high risk of blood clots. You have to first check blood clotting factors then find a great endocrinologist (which is easier said than done). After that, you have to regularly follow up with your endocrinologist (and possibly other specialists), do blood work, change dosages etc. Overall, you have to make it a life long commitment.
If you change your mind later and go off testosterone replacement therapy, there’s a high risk that your natural production of testosterone shuts down so you end up with much lower levels than before you started.
As a result, real endocrinologists (not hormone optimization and anti aging clinics that just push TRT), only use this as a last resort after every other method has been exhausted.
Another reason to why I personally won’t take testosterone replacement therapy is because you can never say that the muscle gains you’ve made in training are truly yours. When you take testosterone replacement therapy, your testosterone levels are elevated 24/7. In contrast, for people who aren’t on TRT, testosterone levels follow a circadian rhythm. They fluctuate throughout the day and peak in the morning. We do not have peak testosterone levels around the clock. This circadian regulation of testosterone levels is very different from a testosterone user who walks around with high testosterone 24/7. As a result, a high-normal testosterone reading in naturals and testosterone users is not comparable at all.
Another big mistake I see readers make is to get on estrogen lowering drugs such as Aromatase Inhibitors.
I do not recommend this because when doing so, there’s a significant risk that your estrogen levels get too low. (This is especially the case when you don’t work with a good endocrinologist and regularly track your blood work).
Estrogen is often seen as the “evil” female hormone that gives us man boobs and makes us soft, however it’s all about getting the balance right instead of going for either extreme.
Both low and high estrogen levels lead to the same symptoms as low testosterone, however in my experience, with low levels specifically they’re exacerbated the most (see study The Role of Estradiol in Male Reproductive Function).
An estrogen deficiency produces the same symptoms as low testosterone (sleep problems, weak erections, no sex drive, joint pain).
I had an estrogen deficiency before (after experimenting a ketogenic diet) and it was by far worse compared to when I had low testosterone levels. I constantly woke up with hot flushes, had joint pain when working out, sex drive was non-existent, I couldn’t get erections and I barely had energy to get out of bed.
In addition to these symptoms, an estrogen deficiency in men is a big risk factor for cardiovascular disease. (See Cardiovascular Actions of Estrogens in Men and Circulating Estradiol and Mortality in Men With Systolic Chronic Heart Failure).
As a result, you NEVER want to mess with your estrogen levels through supplements or herbs. You want to let your body regulate your estrogen levels naturally at all times.
Finally, getting on testosterone boosting supplements or herbs such as Ashwaganda, Tribulus and Tongkat Ali is not optimal either.
At best, these supplements and herbs will give you a modest 20-30% increase in testosterone levels. This will NOT be enough to feel a big improvement in training recovery and low T symptoms. This is why they’re called supplements. They only result in modest, supplemental increases. If they were as effective as they claim, they would already have been turned into medications.
At worst, they’ll lead to unpredictable long-term side effects such as getting an estrogen deficiency. The risks far outweigh the potential reward of a 20-30% increase.
The big long-term increases come from a rapid overhaul of your training, nutrition and sleep regimen and compared to drugs, medicines, herbs and high dosed supplements, these have practically no risks but can lead to a 2-4X in your natural testosterone levels.
Proof that i almost 4Xed my testosterone levels naturally
The best way to raise your testosterone levels is the natural way.
Your body can produce high levels of testosterone as long as you allow it to.
The key is to focus on training, diet and sleep which I will get to in the next sections.
However, first I’ll show you proof that I raised my testosterone levels with 270%.
I boosted my testosterone levels from 297 NG/DL to 1105 NG/DL (270% increase).
The endocrinologist who ran my lab tests said it’s the highest reading they had ever seen in the hospital.
From my knowledge this is one of the highest testosterone increases that you’ll be able to find anywhere online.
A lot of content creators online will try come across as experts on natural testosterone optimization and try to sell you some junk testosterone booster or herb, but they will not even show you their bloodwork proving they actually increased their testosterone levels to the top of the range.
Here are photos of my blood work to prove the testosterone increases:
I’ve throughout the years lived in different locations (Denmark and Thailand mostly) therefore some of the labs used different units.
I’ve converted the units for you below to NG/DL which is the most common unit:
- September 2010: 10.3 NMOL/L > 297 NG/DL
- December 2010: 19.06 NMOL/L > 549 NG/DL
- July 2012: 22.59 NMOL/L > 650 NG/DL
- June 2016: 8.31 NG/ML > 831 NG/DL
- September 2018: 11.05 NG/DL > 1105 NG/DL
I consider every reading above 650 NG/DL to be optimal. It took me just under 2 years to get there.
Here are the 3 keys that I focused on to optimize my testosterone levels:
- Bodyweight training 4-6 days per week.
When your training, nutrition and sleep are dialed in, you will allow your body to produce optimal levels of testosterone.
Let’s start with diet.
The High Testosterone Diet Principles
The biggest mistake people make when dieting is that they focus too much on protein intake, supplements (which don’t absorb well by the body) and Calories while completely neglecting micronutrients.
This is a huge problem because you’re neglecting the most important diet problem which is micronutrient deficiencies.
+90% of people have some type of micronutrient deficiency such as iodine, zinc, magnesium or vitamin B12.
These deficiencies disturb the endocrine system and lower your testosterone production.
A good example is this 1996 study where they put healthy young men with top of the range testosterone levels on a zinc-restricted diet.
In less than 6 months, their testosterone levels tanked with nearly 80%. They went from the top of the natural range to the bottom of the range.
Now think about this. Zinc is just one micronutrient out of many.
If you’re even slightly deficient in 2-3 micronutrients (which most people are), you’re undoubtedly producing much less testosterone than you could.
Therefore, the #1 focus I have in Online Transformation Program clients is to create a well rounded diet that covers all micronutrients.
This is far superior to taking vitamin and supplements because these are not absorbed well and when you supplement with high doses of certain micronutrients, you lower other ones. The body likes to get micronutrients in the right combinations, from FOOD, not supplements.
Second, you want to eat enough daily Calories to stay at a healthy body-fat level while supporting a high testosterone production.
Excess body-fat levels are harmful for testosterone levels because they increase aromatase. Increased aromatase means that your body converts a higher percent of your testosterone into estrogen.
I emphasize excess body-fat because the key here is to find the right balance. Having too low body-fat levels like all those shredded instagram fitness influencers on testosterone replacement therapy and performance enhancing drugs is harmful for testosterone production because it makes your body perceive a state of starvation. During a state of starvation, your body de-prioritizes non essential functions such as producing high levels of testosterone.
There’s a 2013 study linked here showing how bodybuilding contest prep in natural bodybuilders completely wrecks their natural testosterone production due to body-fat levels being too low.
When the bodybuilder in the study was at the end of his contest prep and reached a shredded body-fat level, his testosterone levels tanked with nearly 80% and he experienced depression and anxiety.
Now contrast this with what’s promoted on social media. When these shredded instagram influencers inject testosterone (and they certainly do), their body doesn’t need to produce it naturally so they can get ultra lean while maintaining high testosterone levels.
This in turn makes it much easier to maintain muscle mass while having all the positive sides of high testosterone levels.
Therefore, I always recommend most of my Online Transformation Program clients to diet down to a moderate body-fat level and focus more on packing on muscle in the right places rather than staying shredded year around.
The ideal body-fat level and Caloric intake differs for each person. In general, the leaner you are naturally (when not being on any form of diet), the lower body-fat you can maintain while having high testosterone levels.
+95% of men will have the most ideal testosterone production when staying at a moderate body-fat level of 12-15%. This means you’ll have a flat waist, no love handles or man boobs and look “athletic” but not ripped or shredded with visible abs.
It may be hard to accept this reality, however I personally don’t walk around with visible abs year around for this very reason. I’ve had every body-type possible (ripped, fat, skinny-fat, athletic) and I feel my best at moderate body-fat levels (the last 2 pics below).
What’s the point in having a 6-pack if you constantly feel hungry, depressed and anxious and can’t even get an erection?
The protocol I use to find the ideal body-fat level and Caloric intake with clients is to gradually lose excess body-fat through a sustainable diet while tracking BioFeedback markers such as sleep, energy levels, digestion and training performance. By tracking these markers, I can help them dial in their testosterone production while feeling their best.
In addition to micronutrients, Calories and body-fat levels, it’s essential that most of your dietary Calories to come from protein sparing nutrients (fats and carbs).
Dietary fats from land animal products contain cholesterol and cholesterol is the building block of testosterone.
Your testicles’ Leydig cells produce testosterone by converting cholesterol into testosterone.
Your testicles can produce cholesterol on their own, however when you rely too much on the cholesterol produced by your testicles, this can inhibit your Leydig cells from producing testosterone. (See study here).
Therefore, for clients I always recommend a regular intake of land animal fats (or coconut oil if you’re vegan or vegetarian). The key here is to find the balance where you achieve sufficient testosterone without increasing LDL cholesterol levels too much since high LDL cholesterol levels increase your risk of arterial plaque.
Once the testosterone is produced by your testicles, 97-99% of it attaches to Sex Hormone Binding Globulin and albumin. The remaining 1-3% becomes available in the blood stream for biological functions such as recovery, sex drive, building muscle mass and so on.
This essentially means that only a small percent of your total testosterone is usable.
The key here is to maximize your free testosterone levels because these track far more with how you feel and perform compared to total levels.
To maximize how much free testosterone is available in the blood stream, you need to eat sufficient carbs.
A lot of men have the problem where their total testosterone is high but they still feel like crap. This is in nearly all cases because 99% of their testosterone is bound up. You only want 97-98% to be bound up (this small 1-2 percentage point difference is huge since it’s a 2-3X increase in free testosterone).
Sufficient carbs help keep your Sex Hormone Binding Globulin optimal. This in turn decreases how much testosterone get’s bound up.
Therefore, if your goal is to raise testosterone levels, stay away from low carb and ketogenic diets.
Finally, digestion is very important.
You want to use foods that work well with your digestive system.
You want to minimize constipation, bloating and gassiness since indigestion means that your body is not absorbing the foods well.
When you don’t absorb foods well, this leads to higher levels of inflammation in the body.
By eating foods you digest well, you will absorb the nutrients better, prevent micronutrient deficiencies, reduce inflammation and make it more likely for your body to use the food for muscle gains.
Essentially, you want to be on a diet plan that achieves the following goals:
- High in micronutrients since +90% of people have some type of micronutrient deficiency (iodine, magnesium, vitamin B12 etc) and micronutrient deficiencies can lead to low testosterone.
- Sufficient cholesterol.
- Low in foods that increase inflammation. The more inflammation you have, the lower your testosterone levels will be.
- Most of your Calories should come from the protein sparing nutrients (fats and carbs) to support both a high total and free testosterone production.
- Uses foods that work well with your digestive system. You want to minimize constipation, bloating and gassiness since indigestion leads to higher inflammation levels in the body and can lead to micronutrient deficiencies.
- At the right Caloric level so you can lose excess body-fat and thereby minimize aromatase (the increase of testosterone into estrogen).
When you dial in these factors, you start feeling much better on a daily basis. Digestion improves, sleep improves, you recover faster, sex drive increases.
Usually for my clients, they start feeling much better within 2 weeks of eating properly.
Then typically within 3-6 months they see a significant increase in testosterone levels as well (confirmed by lab tests):
For the best effect, a testosterone boosting diet should be combined with sleeping 7-9 hours a day (starting before midnight).
Proper sleep is essential as well because most of your hormones are regulated during sleep.
High Quality Sleep Is Essential for High Testosterone
The most underrated factor in raising testosterone levels is sleep.
High quality, sufficient sleep is essential because testosterone is regulated during sleep.
Testosterone is produced during REM sleep which is the period late in the sleep cycle.
This 2014 study shows that sub optimal sleep undoubtedly has a big negative effect on your testosterone production.
In addition to a high testosterone production, here are the benefits of optimal sleep:
- Higher dopamine levels in the day time > more motivation, better focus, more willpower.
- Regulation of the hunger and satiety hormones Leptin and Ghrelin > less cravings for sugar and junkfood.
- Faster recovery between training sessions.
- When bulking, a higher percentage of your weight gain will be muscle mass vs. fat.
- When cutting bodyweight, you lose less muscle mass and more body-fat.
- Higher energy levels.
With +80% of Online Transformation Program clients who have low testosterone symptoms, sleep is a major issue.
How do you know if your sleep is a problem? You consistently wake up feeling unrefreshed.
If this is happening, you need to get on it now and correct it. This will have a far bigger effect on your health, energy and testosterone levels than almost anything else you do.
I had insomnia and sleep apnea for many years and after years of research and experimentation, I finally dialed in my sleep.
This was by far one of the biggest keys to boost my testosterone levels.
I’m going to save you a lot of time and effort on researching sleep optimization. Below, I will outline the most important components of optimal sleep:
- The hours before midnight are the most important. The more hours you sleep before midnight, the higher the quality of your sleep will be and the more you will support a healthy hormonal production.
- Sleep and wake at the same times everyday. Ideally around 10 PM until 6-7 AM. Sleeping slightly less hours but at consistent times is far superior for deep sleep compared to sleeping slightly more hours but at very different times.
- Get 15 min of early morning sunlight within 2 hours of the sun rising. Go for a walk outdoor without any sunglasses during this critical time. Even small amounts of indirect light on cloudy days help support a healthy circadian rhythm.
- Avoid blue light from screens and bright overhead lights after 8 PM. Use blue light blocking glasses and reduce the lights at home. The combination of early morning light and no blue light at night will help promote deep sleep and you will find it much easier to fall asleep before 10 PM.
- Avoid caffeine, pre-workouts and stimulants after noon.
- Avoid working out and eating big meals within 3 hours of bed time. Working out stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and makes it hard to fall asleep. Big meals digest for a long time and disrupt deep sleep.
- Sleep in a pitch black, cool and quiet room. Make sure there are no lights in your room from electronic devices, chargers, the window etc. since even small amounts of light can wake you up or disrupt deep sleep. If you wake up in the middle of the night to go to the toilet, wear blue light blocking glasses. This will make it easier to fall asleep again fast.
- Prioritize your sleep. Have a relaxation routine in place after 8 PM so you can sleep by 10-10:30 PM.
- If you snore, gasp for air or frequently wake up at night, see a sleep doctor to get checked for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is common in skinny-fat guys due to either a genetically narrow airway structure and/or high body-fat around the airways. Getting on a CPAP machine to treat it will massively improve sleep quality and cardiovascular health.
I know, this is A LOT of changes for most people. However, if you’re serious about boosting your testosterone levels and getting into peak shape, this is necessary.
After a couple of weeks of experiencing restful sleep, you will never want to go back.
High Testosterone Training: Moving Your Body Through Space Is Key
When you look at testosterone boosting workout advice, you often hear that heavy barbell movements like squats and deadlifts are key.
I did heavy barbell movements for over 2 years. Consistently, 3 days per week. I used progressive overload and went heavy and I got strong all across the board.
However, it did not work for me. The low testosterone result that I got at age 18 was 1 year into heavy barbell training.
I achieved all of my testosterone increases and upper body gains after I switched away from heavy barbell training to higher rep bodyweight workouts.
I believe bodyweight exercises are the best way to train for high testosterone because of the reasons listed below:
- With low testosterone levels, you need a constant sustained full body stimulus to boost your testosterone levels. This means that you have to train the entire body at least 4 days per week but ideally 6. With high volume bodybuilding workouts or heavy barbell training you won’t be able to recover for your daily sessions. With bodyweight workouts, you can go in and stimulate a muscle daily and then recover in time for your next workout.
- Doing full body workouts at the gym 4-6 days per week is certainly possible, however most clients I train are busy entrepreneurs and/or have a family and demanding work schedule. If you can relate to this, a minimalistic home workout set up is much more realistic long-term. In the end, consistency is key to get any form of results.
- When you have a naturally low testosterone production, your ability to recover from heavy workouts is limited. Heavy training increases the stress hormone Cortisol and long-term sustained increases of Cortisol lower testosterone levels. Bodyweight workouts are much easier to recover from, therefore they’re a much safer bet when you’re trying to increase testosterone.
- Being a master of moving your own bodyweight through space locks you into being lean and muscular. You can be a fat powerlifter and bench press 400 pounds, but there’s no way you’ll be doing 20 chin ups with perfect form while being fat.
- Bodyweight exercises target all the most important upper body muscles: Upper chest, lats, triceps, biceps and shoulders.
- When choosing exercises for a muscle building program, it’s important to choose exercises that produce the highest ratio of muscle stimulation vs. fatigue. Bodyweight exercises provide a high amount of stimulation for all the target muscles with minimal fatigue. This allows you to train hard and often.
The 3 most important bodyweight exercises that worked for me and my clients are: Chin Ups/Pull Ups, Diamond Push Ups and Bodyweight Squats.
The chin up / pull up works the lats, upper back and biceps. The diamond push up works the upper and inner chest, shoulders and triceps. The squat works the lower body.
When combining these 3 exercises, you work all the important muscles on your body.
Initially, I have all my online transformation program clients go from 0 chin ups and push ups to 15 chin ups, 30 diamond push ups and 100 bodyweight squats.
All done with perfect form, full range of motion and controlled reps without rest.
I’ve had clients who have been sedentary all their life in their 40s and 50s work their way from wall push ups and just hanging on a pull up bar to doing 20 chin ups with perfect form.
Therefore, no matter what your starting point is, you can become much better than you are today.
Just imagine adding 1 rep to your chin up max for 20 weeks straight.
When you go from 0 to 20 chin ups, there’s no way your body will remain the same.
It has to adapt by adding muscle size and shedding fat:
I call this Phase 1.
My training philosophy for Phase 1 can be summarized below:
- Stimulate all the key muscle groups 4-6 days per week with a few select bodyweight exercises. The target muscles are the shoulders, lats, arms and upper chest.
- Train with higher reps and perfect form to gain muscle mass while staying injury free. I recommend 7-30 reps per set. (If you’re in doubt about the effect of higher rep training being effective for muscle growth, read through this well designed study which proves that any rep range up to 30 is equally effective for muscle growth — as long as you take each set to muscular failure).
During Phase 1, I help clients master bodyweight exercises while increases their testosterone levels. This sets the perfect foundation for later gaining a lot of muscle mass.
Here’s an example of how I looked when I was on my way to hit the Phase 1 goals:
I lost 60 pounds of body fat during Phase 1 while gaining some muscle mass and dialing in my testosterone levels.
When you lose the excess body-fat and you build a better strength foundation, your body will be in a better state to take advantage of harder training and a higher food intake.
When your body-fat is lower your nutrient partitioning will be better which means that your body will be better at utilizing excess Calories for muscle gains instead of storing them as fat.
This is when you will be ready to benefit from doing a more hybrid approach of higher volume bodyweight training followed by weighted pull ups, weighted dips, weighted squats and some key assistance exercises for the shoulders and arms.
I typically have my clients work their way up to 50 KG on weighted pull ups and weighted dips.
This results in a classic V-tapered upper body with wide lats, broad shoulders, a squared chest, big arms and a small waist.
Here’s an example of my client Logan who went through the 2 Phases of a Skinny-Fat Transformation:
L.R., USA: “For several months I had been killing myself in the gym, lifting heavy weights five days a week. My results were lackluster and I constantly felt lethargic and irritable. After 6 months of doing Oskar’s bodyweight routine I found myself 30 pounds lighter, with visible abs and a lean build. I took a vacation to the Dominican Republic and was constantly complimented on my physique.”
Develop The No-Excuse Attitude To Make Your Transformation Happen
I’ve just laid out the overall framework for transforming and as you can see results don’t happen over night.
Getting lean and optimizing your testosterone levels typically takes anywhere from 3-12 months, however building muscle is a longer process.
For most people it takes at least 2 years of hard training to look jacked.
It’s a long process that requires you consistently put in the work while maintaining expectations.
To achieve high testosterone levels you need to completely overhaul your lifestyle (eating, sleeping, exercising) and instill the right mindset.
When you go online you’ll see a lot of self-defeating forums, websites and YouTube videos of people who say you need testosterone replacement therapy if your testosterone levels are low in one test.
After reading through this article and looking at the studies I linked, you’ll see why most real endocrinologists don’t hand out testosterone replacement therapy after one low test. (It’s only the “hormone optimization clinics” that push TRT).
99% of men with low testosterone can get high testosterone by dialing in training, nutrition and sleep.
Instead of going for a quick fix such as one of those scam testosterone boosters or herbal supplements which have no scientific backing, develop the no-excuse attitude.
Don’t rely on motivation to change your lifestyle. Make it a habit and just get the job done, just like you brush your teeth every morning.
Don’t stop training and dieting when it get’s hard. It’s normal to feel challenged and some level of fatigue after a hard workout! Especially when you start out with low testosterone and crappy genetics.
Most days you will not feel like training but you just have to get the job done!
As your testosterone levels increase and you start seeing a bit of results, you will find training much easier and more enjoyable.
How Building A Great Body Changed My Life
So is it worth it?
After going through my transformation I didn’t only see the positive effects physically but also socially and in my health.
As a kid I got bullied heavily and beaten up many times.
Later, as a teenager I was diagnosed with low testosterone levels and developed severe acne and gynecomastia (man boobs as a result of glandular tissue).
The combination of the bullying, low testosterone, man boobs and acne led to anxiety and depression (all of them are interconnected).
I did not have any girlfriends until almost age 20 and spent most of my time inside playing video games.
I tried SSRI medications and for depression but they made me feel like a zombie so I went off them within a month.
I also tried the medication Accutane for for the acne and while it helped, my liver enzymes got high so I had to go off it. Then the acne came back full force.
I can safely say that the first 20 years of my life were a bad time for me socially and mentally.
I was deeply unhappy and longed for a transformation, both physically and mentally.
The true transformation started happening when I dialed in my nutrition, exercise, sleep and overall lifestyle.
My skin cleared up and I started feeling much better from the inside.
Over time the anxiety, depression and low testosterone levels went away.
And I started seeing the changes on the outside.
My muscles started developing, I became very successful with girls and random people at parties and at the gym started asking me about workout advice.
This led me to start the Online Transformation Program for Skinny-Fat Guys back in 2013-2014 and it has since then been the main thing I focused on.
With the transformation program, the goal is not just to max out your body composition and natural testosterone production but your overall health and now I’ll explain why.
At age 27, I took a long flight from Thailand to Denmark because my mom had a massive stroke and went into coma. She had less than 1% chance to wake up from the coma.
The day before they were about to pull the plug, she woke up but permanently lost her speech and movement.
Cardiovascular disease in young age runs in my family and sadly it happened to my mom.
After visiting my mom, I had a blood clot in the lungs.
I had stabbing chest pains every time I took a breath and was almost 100% immobilized when the ambulance came. I had to sleep in a seated position for a week due to the pain.
The doctors found I had a rare genetic blood clotting disorder (protein S deficiency) which combined with the long flight and high stress levels of my mom nearly dying created the clot.
The specialist who treated me said that if I hadn’t done regular cardiovascular training for years, I would most likely not have survived the clot. (My resting heart rate was in the low 40s prior to the clot).
Following the clot, I ran extensive tests for my lungs and they showed that I lost 1/3 of my lung function. I struggled with breathing problems and it was hard to even walk up stairs. As a result, the workouts I could do were extremely limited and I had to pretty much rebuild my lung function. You can see how much muscle mass I lost after the blood clot here:
To make matters worse, during the 1 year of follow ups of the blood clot, I went into shock during a CT scan due to an allergic reaction from the iodized contrast. I was hospitalized over 10 times with emergency levels of high blood pressure and breathing problems.
I was pretty much in and out of hospitals all the time and it was the darkest time in my life.
As a result, I know what it’s like to feel dialed in fitness and health wise and what it’s like to lose it all and start over again. Your health is by far the most important but most people don’t realize it until it’s too late.
Around 6 months into the hospitalizations, I met my girlfriend (now wife) Lesley. She saw me go into shock during the CT scan and quit her modeling career and studies to help me get better.
We moved to a house in a mountain village and I started dialing in my diet, training and sleep even further. For 6 months straight, I only ate fresh, organic food from local farmers, I spent 2-3 hours daily in the sun, slept and woke early to see the morning sun and trained as hard as I could.
I haven’t retested my lung function since, however the past 2 years I have been able to train even harder than I did before the clot and my blood pressure and breathing problems have been gone. Similarly to when I boosted my testosterone levels, overhauling my lifestyle even further was the key.
With hard work, I managed to restore my lung function and this experience has further reinforced for me how important it is to get into great physical shape, dial in your lifestyle and keep track of your blood work to dial in health markers. I hope you enjoyed reading this guide and that you found it helpful!
Be proud but stay hungry!
Oskar Faarkrog, ISSA Certified Trainer