Being a guy, it’s in your nature to be a little on the competitive side.
You always have to be the best whether you’re at work grinding for a promotion, playing your friends in a “friendly” game of corn hole at a barbeque, or dominating your local beer league softball game.
Let’s be honest, if you’re rounding third and heading for home to score the game winning run, you’re going to slide into home despite the fact you’re wearing shorts and the strawberry you acquire on your thigh will cause a slight limp when walking for the next week.
This situation is described as if it’s happened before…
Other than the fact it’s just plain fun to compete against others, it has a significant effect on your health, as well.
Competition has a close tie with your testosterone levels. In case you’re unaware, as a man, testosterone has prolific effect on your overall health.
Some side effects of having low testosterone include:
- Higher mortality rates (being alive is kind of a big deal)
- Sexual problems such as low sperm count or impotence (having a nonfunctioning dangle is no bueno)
- Low or no sex drive
- Loss of muscle mass
- Loss of bone mass
- Increased levels of fat
- Increased moodiness (nothing is more annoying than a dude who’s crabby and complaining 24/7)
Sounds pretty important, right? Right.
Competition And Winning’s Effect On Testosterone
How does competition come into play with your testosterone?
Well, science has shown competition can cause an increase in testosterone levels.
This study looked at the effects competition had on 88 men of an Amazonian hunter-gatherer tribe.
Testosterone levels were checked before and after a soccer match. On average, these men had a 30% increase in testosterone levels…30 flipping %.
If you’re suffering from one, or more, of the low testosterone symptoms listed above, think about how a 30% bump in this glorious hormone can help you.
Interestingly, the study showed men who reported better individual performances had an even greater increase in testosterone. This leads us to the next point about competition you need to know.
Even though competition has been shown to increase testosterone levels, actually WINNING the competition can provide an even greater spike.
This study followed six university level tennis players across six matches of their season.
Players who won their matches had an increase in post-match testosterone levels compared to losers. The winners also had higher levels before their next match. On top of this, like the men from the Amazonian study, the players who FELT they played well had an even greater increase.
Take a look at one more study for definitive proof of the “winner effect.”
Two experiments were done with male college students. The students either won or lost $5 based entirely on chance. As in, the students had zero say if they won or lost the $5.
Both experiments showed an increase in testosterone levels for winners compared to losers.
The second experiment didn’t have losers. Instead, it had winners and a group who neither won nor lost. Winners still had significantly higher testosterone levels compared to the neutral students.
Obviously, you not only want to compete, you want to do everything in your power to do your best Charlie Sheen impression and be “winning!”
How can you take this information and apply it to improving your strength? Goal-Based workouts.
Strength training in itself gives you a boost in testosterone. Using the research of how competition and winning affects hormone levels, give your workouts an added testosterone raising element.
Each of the following workouts involves self-competition. You’ll be competing against your performance from the previous session.
Top your previous best, receive a nice boost in testosterone. Fall short and go home to reconsider all of your life choices up to this point. You don’t want to look in the mirror knowing the person looking back bested you, right?
Outside of the hormonal benefits this type of training offers, having a goal during each workout keeps you laser focused. No more updating your fantasy football roster in the middle of workouts. Sorry, fellas.
Taken straight from Sir Charles Staley’s playbook. Escalating Density Training (EDT) pits you against an unforgiving clock.
A great method to use for a fat loss phase or packing on muscle like a juiced up baseball player from the 90’s.
There are two ways to set up an EDT workout. Using either one or two exercises. Use the following to decide which option is best for you.
- One exercise: Best used when working on the technique of a particular movement. Or, when strength is your primary goal. Again, the strength comes from improving technique through a crap ton (less than a shit ton) of reps
- Two exercises: Used for the primary goal of fat loss and/or building muscle
Both options give you benefits of fat loss, muscle building, and strength. Using the one which gives you the quickest path to your goal is ideal.
To set up your workout, choose two noncompeting exercises. This can be lower and upper body exercises (goblet squat and bench press) or upper body push and pull exercises (chin-up and push-up).
Set a timer for 8-20 minutes. If your only exercise lately has been squatting to get off the couch, put the clock on the low end.
For your two exercises, choose a weight you’re confident you can lift for ten reps before your form breaks. Notice that said, “Before your form breaks,” not, “As many as possible using form resembling a monkey humping a football.”
Quality reps only.
The goal is to get in as many sets of 6-8 reps as possible in the allotted time. You’ll be alternating back and forth between exercises, if you hadn’t figured it out.
Keep the weights and time block same for three or four workouts. Each time you revisit the workout you have the goal of beating the total amount of reps you accumulated from the previous time. Accomplish the task and you’re master of your universe.
After beating your previous best two or three times, you have a few options on how to progress. 1) Keep the weights the same, add at least two minutes. 2) Keep the time frame the same, up the weight by 5-10%. The choice is yours, and yours alone (name where that line is from).
The 25 Method, popularized by Chad Waterbury, is the technique most resembling what you’d think of typical strength training.
This method is great due to the fact you can have two goals to beat for one exercise. Hit both of your goals and you’ll be high fiving every bro in the gym. Use the 25 Method for multiple exercises within a workout and you’ll receive a 397% (this number not backed by science) increase in testosterone.
Very simple set up. For the exercises you choose, pick a weight you can get 4-6 reps with before your form falters.
The difference with this style of training is the fact you’ll cut a set short once your speed slows, range of motion shortens, or form begins to break. Basically, no grinding out shitty looking reps.
The goals you’re aiming from workout to workout comes from the first set and the total amount of sets it takes to reach 25 total reps. 25 Method makes a little more sense now, huh?
As an example, during your first workout you hit five reps on your first set. Surprise, surprise the goal for next time is to do six or more. That’s the first goal.
The second goal is to complete the workout in total fewer sets. Expanding on the example above, your workout looks like this:
Set 1: 5 reps
Set 2: 5 reps
Set 3: 4 reps
Set 4: 4 reps
Set 5: 4 reps
Set 6: 3 reps
Next time you do this workout you’ll aim for completing the 25 reps in five sets. Like so:
Set 1: 6 reps
Set 2: 5 reps
Set 3: 5 reps
Set 4: 5 reps
Set 5: 4 reps
It’ll be fan-freaking-tastic if you get more reps on the first set and complete the 25 reps in less sets. But this happening may be a rare occurrence. That’s perfectly okay. As long as you hit one goal, you’ll be in beast mode like Marshall Lynch.
When you hit seven reps on the first set, you know it’s time to up the weight. Add five or ten pounds to the bar next time you do the workout.
Again, swiping another powerful method from a fellow coach, the high intensity continuous training (HICT) method comes from Joel Jameison.
The idea behind HICT is to make your muscles incredibly efficient at producing powerful movements over and over.
HICT offers you the opportunity to improve your form on the movement you choose. This is due to the fact you’ll be doing a metric crap ton of reps of the exercise.
Outside of the physical benefits, this type of training influences how you mentally perceive a workout. Put simply, when you’re able to create such a massive output of work while controlling your breathing, keeping proper joint alignment, and keeping a calm mental state, your mind starts believing it can go all day with this type of exercise.
First off, set a timer for 5-20 minutes. Ten minutes is a good time block to start off with if you’re new to this type of training.
Choose a movement you want or to become proficient with. Some options to choose from include pushups, inverted rows, goblet squats, step-ups, and trap-bar deadlifts (make sure you have stellar form on these before using with HICT).
Once the clock is rolling, you’ll perform as many sets of 1-3 reps as possible in the allotted time.
Some performance points to monitor:
- Make sure every rep looks the same. If reps start feeling slow, rest longer and/or reduce the set by one rep
- You’ll be sweating profusely, but you shouldn’t have a burning feeling in your muscles. If it burns, rest longer or cut a rep each set
- As always, keep your form in check
- You should be able to breathe exclusively through your nose the entire time. If you have a heartrate monitor, keep your heart between 120-150 beats per minute
- Count the total number of reps you get in the time block
The goal you have when repeating this workout is to beat the total number of reps. Easy peezy.
To progress a HICT workout, simply increase the length of your time block and establish a new goal.
You’ll notice the HICT method seems similar to EDT. In terms of how a workout is setup using time blocks and doing as many sets as possible, it’s similar.
Warning: There’s some science coming.
The difference is the energy systems being used. EDT uses more of the glycolytic system which has a more profound impact on fat loss and muscle building.
HICT uses your phosophocreatine and aerobic systems. This will allow you to perform a massive amount of work in a calm and controlled emotional state. HICT will have a positive effect on fat loss and muscle, but not to the same degree as EDT. Different strokes or different folks.
Putting It All Together
If you need a quick shot of testosterone, a new workout to shake things up, or simply a swift kick to the ass to get back on track, these goal-based workouts will do the trick.
You may not have quite the same vigor for competition as your 18 year old self, but there’s no reason you can’t continue to kick ass like Sea Bass (not word for word, but another great quote right there).