Androgen Receptors: 5 Ways to Boost AR Density & Sensitivity

Medical Review by Dr. Stefano Pizzo, MD

Before androgens (testosterone or DHT) can make any changes in your body, they have to enter DNA. In order for them to actually get to the DNA, they have to be bound from blood circulation by androgen receptors in cells.

One good example of the effect of the androgen receptors in the fact that Native American males and Asian males tend to have a much harder time at growing beards than their Caucasian and African peers. Why do you ask? 1, making those less sensitive and making their beard follicles utilize fewer hormones for growth.

This happens naturally all day long around your body, but did you know that you can actually increase androgen receptor density, as well as enhance their activity at utilizing male hormones?

That’s right, there are a handful of supplements, few specific training methods, meal timing pattern, and one pretty popular drink that have all been scientifically proven to increase androgen receptor density.

1. Intermittent Fasting

intermittent fasting to increase androgen receptor sensitivityIntermittent fasting (IF) is gaining popularity like a rolling snowball. It’s an eating pattern where you fast for the majority of the day and consume all of your daily calories in a short eating window.

The most common method of this is the Lean Gains style where you fast for 16 hours and feast for 8 hours. This cycle repeats every day.

There are many benefits to IF, things like improved insulin sensitivity, weight loss due to easier maintenance of the calorie deficit, and sharper cognitive functions…

…But did you know that insulin is not the only thing that your body becomes more responsive to after short-term fasting?

Androgen receptors seem to have the same effect on testosterone and DHT after fasting when you start eating. There are two studies which showcase this, one from Sweden which showed that fasting for 12-56 hours can increase the responsiveness to testosterone by up to 180%…

How fasting increases androgen receptor activity naturally…And another one where the subjects actually did a 10-day water fast, then resumed eating and they were followed for 5 days as they consumed their normal meals, as you can see from the graph on right, their testosterone levels shot up like crazy and kept climbing for the 5-day post-fasting follow up. The likely explanation here is that their bodies became more sensitive towards androgens during the ruthless 10 days of no calories whatsoever.

NOTE: No, I do not recommend anyone to do a 10-day water fast, shorter fasts like the 16:8 method should still do the trick, and those are what I recommend (more about those here).

2. Resistance Training

Resistance training increases androgen receptor density.Resistance training is a reliable way to increase testosterone levels. Not only does it boost the production of the big-T, but it also increases its utilization by up-regulating the activity and density of androgen receptors in muscle tissue.

Research has shown that trained men have significantly higher AR content in their muscles than non-trained individuals and that different types of weight-lifting methods yield different degrees of AR activation. Since androgen receptors are a factor in muscle protein synthesis, it’s only logical that their density and activity increases after the body adapts to resistance training.

There are few “training rules” you should follow in order to maximize the androgen receptor increase, testosterone, and DHT release, and of course, muscle & strength gains;

  1. Activate large amounts of muscle mass, with proper form, and still remain somewhat “explosive”.
  2. Do it rather quickly in order to avoid increases in cortisol (which decreases AR content of muscles).
  3. Progress with your lifts on a weekly basis, and rest accordingly to actually be able to do that.

Our THOR-training program was created with maximum androgen receptor upregulation in mind, so if you’re looking for something like that, have a look at the course.

3. Carnitine

Carnitine is an androgen receptor activatorCarnitine occurs naturally in meats and fish. In fact it might be one of the most hormonally useful compounds that vegans miss in their diets.

The simplified mechanism of action for how it can increase androgen receptors naturally is as follows:

Carnitine transports lipids (fat) into the cellular mitochondria to be used as energy -> androgen receptor (AR) activity within those same cells is increased.

These effects were shown in a study where 3-weeks of L-Carnitine L-Tartrate supplementation at 2g/day was able to significantly increase the number of active androgen receptors in human subjects at rest.

The same researchers later replicated the study with exercising subjects to prove – this time with actual muscle biopsies – that in trained males, L-Carnitine L-Tartrate is even better at boosting AR content than what is seen at subjects who are sedentary.

Bottom line is that carnitine increases androgen receptors at rest and even more so after exercise. Using 1-2g/day of L-Carnitine L-Tartrate should do the trick.

4. Levodopa

Mucuna pruriens and l-dopa increase androgen receptor activatorL-DOPA (levodopa) is a naturally occurring amino acid found in high amounts in Mucuna Pruriens (velvet bean). It’s a direct precursor to dopamine, can bypass the blood-brain barrier, and effectively raise serum dopamine levels.

In my previous article about Mucuna Pruriens, I linked few studies which showed how L-DOPA from Mucuna Pruriens was able to increase testosterone levels, raise dopamine, boost sperm health, enhance cognitive ability, and reduce prolactin levels…

…And as an icing to the cake, there’s the fact that levadopa acts as a co-activator protein to the androgen receptors, effectively enhancing their activity in in-vitro studies (study, study).

Using 250-500mg’s per day of quality M.Pruriens extract with a standardized amount of L-DOPA should do the trick.

5. Caffeine

Caffeine is a natural androgen receptor coactivatorCaffeine, the principal alkaloid and active ingredient of coffee beans, is not only good at boosting your creativity and energy levels. The good stuff can also increase workout performance as well as increase androgen receptors and testosterone.

Studies on rodents have shown that chronic low-dose caffeine intake can increase testosterone levels, DHT levels, and androgen receptor (AR) expression.

The mechanism of action is that caffeine stimulates cAMP enzyme inside the cells that host the androgen receptor, and cAMP then stimulates another enzyme called protein kinase A (PKA), which then regulates the glycogen, sugar, and lipid metabolism inside the receptors, enhancing their activity at binding DHT and testosterone.

Caffeine activates AR with the same mechanism as forskolin does, by increasing intracellular cAMP levels. For better results, take your forskolin and caffeine in a fasted-state (insulin inhibits cAMP).

Conclusion on Androgen Receptors

There you go pal, five ways to maximize and increase androgen utilization at the receptor sites. To recap, here’s your five-step natural AR optimization stack;

  1. Drink some coffee in the morning in fasted-state
  2. Pop few caps of forskolin, also in fasted-state
  3. Crush a heavy workout (like THOR) in the evening (preferably still at fasted-state if u can).
  4. Break the fast with a big post-workout meal and 1-2 grams of L-Carnitine L-Tartrate.
  5. Before you go to sleep, consume 250-500mg’s of mucuna pruriens extract.

Bonus: For poor guys who can’t get the supplements; double the coffee, get the carnitine from red meat, and L-DOPA from fava beans.

Pettaway C. Racial differences in the androgen/androgen receptor pathway. J Natl Med Assoc. 1999;91(12):653-660.

Ali Kuoppala

Ali Kuoppala is the founder of Anabolic Men. He has authored and co-authored multiple men's health books and focuses on uncovering the methods of optimizing hormonal health. To date, his articles on various websites have been read more than 15-million times. To read more about Ali, visit his Medium article.