Got this email from Lee the other day with a great question:
Recently, I saw something making the claim that if you slept in the “starfish pose” (on your back, arms and legs spread) it mimicked one of “power poses proven to increase testosterone”. This was part of a sales pitch, so that makes me a little skeptical. When I went to look into it, it seems there was a study done, but there is a lot of controversy around it.
From reading your articles and books, I know that sometimes this is done as a means of suppression, and sometimes it is just actually bad/flawed science. And I also know that the placebo / “nocebo” effects can be quite powerful.
What I was wondering was if you had done any research into this area yourself, or had any experience / knowledge.
While I don’t doubt that posture and such can make a difference in mood, the “20% increase in testosterone” claimed seems a bit far fetched, though I don’t know of a non-invasive way to test (draw a vial before, pose for the 2 minutes claimed, then draw another vial to be tested?)
Great question. I am familiar with power poses, I even mention it inside my Upgrade Your Testosterone book.
Since the time of writing that I have also seen the research that calls that into question.
(The replication crisis strikes again!)
As you state, science is confusing. My thoughts are that the idea behind the research is sound, even if the specifics aren’t so great.
From my NLP training I know that physiology affects your mind and emotions. These than absolutely can affect hormone levels to some degree.
The scientific question is about the degree, how to do it, and how long it will take.
Will sleeping in a star fish pose boost your testosterone 20%? That flags my skepticism as well.
But will being in confident postures overall help you to act a bit differently, including doing other things that in turn will boost your testosterone? To this I would say undoubtedly.
In short, it’s all connected.
Testosterone does move up and down a lot. I’ve also seen a study that said when your sports team wins you get a boost and when they loss it shrinks. (Was this reproduced? I don’t know.)
To increase your testosterone is not about any one hack like sleeping like a starfish.
Instead it is about doing many things systematically and longer term. From your training to your food, from your posture to your supplements, from your sex life to many things you best avoid.
My plan as covered in Upgrade Your Testosterone is really best thought of as a healthy living plan, because in my mind, that is what it takes.