“My man, Sam! How’s it going? How’ya doing this week?” 

Sam replies, “Hey brother, this week has been s..tshow. I missed Monday morning’s workout, just slammed with meetings, then had to catch a flight. Been traveling since and just haven’t had time. Too many meetings and late dinners, and way too many cocktails. I get so tired, I can’t wait to get back to the hotel room, feel like I could sleep for a week, but then I can’t seem to fall asleep. Just gotta man-up. I always intend to get up early to “squeeze in” a workout, but don’t have the energy. Gotta figure something out. I tell ya’, the worst is this dad-bod… dude, I’ve got man boobs and a gut! I’m frickin’ disgusting! I know this exercise and nutrition s..t is important, but I just can’t seem to find time. I really envy you, brother, totally have your s..t together. Living the life! Man… I gotta figure something out…” 

Allow me to introduce my friend, Sam. Sam is not a real person. He is a composite, a representative of several of my online clients, many of whom are midlife males in demanding corporate jobs or entrepreneurs consumed by running their businesses. 

While fictional, the dialogue above could be taken as an excerpt from my weekly coaching calls with the good men I train remotely. 

I empathize with Sam. I lived that life. Thankfully, I was able to leave that life. 

Sam is tired but wired, frazzled and worn out. He’s overweight, stretched too thin, and down on himself. 

The chronic stress of his job results in persistently high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. We’ve been chatting about that in a series of posts over the past several weeks. 

Today I want to explore the effect of elevated cortisol on Sam’s testosterone and propose that strength training is an effective remedy for chronic stress and low testosterone. 

Cortisol and testosterone are opposite ends of a seesaw. When stress-induced cortisol is chronically high, testosterone is chronically low. 

Our levels of testosterone decline naturally as we age. But the rate of decline is accelerated by persistently high levels of cortisol, often leading to the condition of “low-T”. 

Specifically, low-T is defined as less than 300 nanogram per deciliter of blood (ng/dL). We need a blood test to determine this. “Normal” levels are considered from 300 ng/L to 1000 ng/dL.

Low-T has a bunch of unappealing effects, not least of which is a loss of libido. We also lose hair, bone density, muscle mass, motivation, and confidence. While all that’s fading away, we’re growing embarrassing man boobs, protruding paunches, jiggling jowls, and unlovable love handles. Low-T can lead to poor sleep, and poor sleep can lead to low-T, a vicious cycle. Anemia, fatigue, and hypogonadism (shrinkage of the family jewels) can all be caused by low-T. As bad as all that, low-T is also linked to memory loss. Yikes!

The result… our appearance, functional strength, and self-confidence erode. We feel crappy about ourselves. By the way, brothers, depression in men often manifests as anger and irritability. Have you been feeling grumpy and pissed off all the time? Hmm…

So, Gents, if you’re a hyper-busy, hard-working, business-traveling, up-early, stay-up-late-doing-emails, super-dad-high-level-executive, and you’ve been feeling tired but wired, we’ve got to find ways to help you get your stress under control. 

I mentioned a number of proven methods in earlier posts

And hallelujah, there is one method that not only works to mitigate the effects of chronic stress, but actually raises our testosterone levels… strength training. 

Yep, when we “pick things up and put them down” we actually raise our testosterone and relieve stress. Sorry to break it to you boys, but walking the dog or doing 30 minutes on the elliptical, while effective at relieving stress, won’t do anything about that dad-bod. We need to lift heavy things, repeatedly and often. 

If you’re interested, in the box below, I’ve listed three micronutrients that can elevate our testosterone naturally. 

And, while I’ve got you, something to be aware of… we need cholesterol to make testosterone. Low cholesterol and cholesterol lowering drugs are linked to low-T. More on that in my next missive. Until then, please, don’t be a knucklehead and stop taking your medication without speaking with your doctor. I’ll explain more next week. 

Does Sam’s monologue sound familiar or hit close to home? Cool, I’m here to help. I created MidStrong, particularly our online platform, to be a resource to my midlife brothers who are living Sam’s story. It was my story. I understand how hard it can be. Reach out if I can be a resource, please.  

Strong body, strong mind!

Paul Reilly

Paul is the Owner and Founder of MidStrong. He created MidStrong in 2017 to train men and women in midlife who are busy with work and family to build muscle and burn fat so they can look and feel better than they did in their 20’s. MidStrong is making Functional Fitness training safe and fun, and inclusive. He and his wife, Julie also own and operate MidStrong locally, their bricks and mortar business, previously called ACCELERATED Strength & Balance. It is a boutique fitness center specializing in training folks in and around Westborough through the challenges of midlife for more than five years.