BJJ can be pretty brutal, let's admit. Sure, it may not have the explosive, high-impact moves that sports like muay Thai or taekwondo may have, but it's pretty intense in its own right.
That intensity has led some to be curious about BJJ's effect on testosterone. It's an important hormone in the body, after all, and if you're practicing Brazilian jiu-jitsu, you likely want to know exactly what it's doing to your body--including if it affects your testosterone in any way.
In this article, we'll be looking into just that, whether or not BJJ has any positive--or negative!--effect on your testosterone levels. Let's dive right in!
What Is Testosterone?
Testosterone is a hormone produced inside the body, and it plays a crucial role in many bodily processes. It's typically associated with men, acting as a counterpart to estrogen, but it's present in both sexes. It's just that men typically have more of it.
Its most common and immediate association is with muscle growth and sex drive, but it has other equally important uses too, such as regulating your metabolism, developing bone density, and promoting red blood cell production. It can even influence hair growth patterns!
Testosterone plays a less prominent role in women, but it's still important for sexual function, mood regulation, a strong immune system, and bone health. It's even been shown to have a positive impact on cognitive function!
Testosterone decline tends to begin at around the age of 30, and you'll likely notice due to an onset of symptoms, such as decreased muscle mass, lower bone density, and a weaker sex drive.
Overall, it's a vital hormone that you always want to have healthy amounts of. It's obviously more of a priority for you if you're a man, but regardless, maintaining adequate testosterone levels is essential for your health.
Does BJJ Increase Testosterone Levels?
Put bluntly: yes, BJJ improves testosterone levels. Now, it obviously can't directly give you more testosterone, but it can have a very positive impact on your T-levels overall. This isn't so much because of BJJ though and more so a consequence of martial arts itself.
For example, a 2020 study from BioMed Research International found that testosterone levels were higher in men while they were competing in a combat sport.
Further evidence supports this idea as well. MMA fighters who regularly take part in intensive workouts have better levels of testosterone than generally inactive individuals. It's pretty much generally understood that martial arts is a great way to amp up testosterone regulation in the body.
The largest boost tends to be right after you've just finished sparring, but its effects effect are generally present long-term, as well. Overall, this is fairly consistent with the fact that physical exercise in general has a healthy effect on testosterone.
Exercise and Testosterone: The Indirect Benefits
There are lots of indirect ways BJJ can boost your T-levels, as well. For example, cortisol? That pesky little hormone associated with stress? One study found that regular exercise is great for keeping that at healthy levels.
And since stress has an adverse effect on your testosterone levels, the less cortisol you have, the more testosterone your body probably has overall.
Plus, BJJ tends to have a very healthy effect on confidence and self-esteem. While this may not mean much on its own, it's actually a great way to boost testosterone production in the body.
Studies show that even just believing in your own physical superiority is a great way to boost performance, natural ability, and--you guessed it--testosterone.
It's a fairly effective self-fulfilling prophecy: thinking you're a winner will give you more testosterone, and getting more testosterone will cause you to win more!
As such, you can rely on BJJ to get you a solid confidence boost, and you can then rely on that confidence boost to give you more testosterone.
Of course, this isn't inconclusive evidence, and more research is likely needed to get a proper answer here. For now though, rest easy: all signs point towards BJJ being healthy for your T-levels.
If you were worried BJJ might be sabotaging your T-levels, then know that you've got nothing to worry about! The research shows that training in your dojo is unlikely to get any long-term negative effects on your hormones.
Just keep training, hit the mats hard, and have fun!
Ever looked into how BJJ might help you with depression? Take a look at that here!