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Bodybuilder: Low Total Test, High Free Test?


Hi all,

I'm a 27 year old competitive bodybuilder and have noticed my body over the years taking a turn for the worse. I used to be an 880 total test levels 3-4 years ago, but went in and got blood work done and came back at 280 total test and off the charts (over 100) for free test. My dr has no idea what to do or why my free test is so high.

Any help is much appreciated

Here's the rest of numbers:
TSH: 1.391
LH: 4.4
FSH: 2.6
PSA: .32
Estradiol: 28


@KSman any suggestions? You seem really sharp with this stuff from other questions I've read?


Can you post the lab ranges for FT?

Have you seen these?
Please read the stickies found here: https://forums.t-nation.com/t/about-the-t-replacement-category/38/2?u=ksman

  • advice for new guys
  • things that damage your hormones
  • protocol for injections
  • finding a TRT doc
  • HPTA restart

Any other labs?
Did problem seem to come on slow or sudden?
Any blows to the head prior?
Any signs of gyno?
Are your outer eyebrows becoming sparse? Have you been using iodized salt?

Are you able to do your own lab work?
Should also check prolactin as a possible factor.

What history of gear, prohormones etc?
Have you ever used any hair loss drugs? 5-alpha reductase inhibitors?


TSH: 1.391 (.3-45.6)
LH: 4.4 (2-15)
FSH: 2.6 (3-23)
Testosterone total: 280 (343-890)
Testosterone Free: greater than 100
PSA: .32 (0-2.5)
Estradiol: 28 (0-56)

I have seen those links and stickies for new guys. I've scowered this site and others and haven't seen many cases like mine.

I had these labs done this last Wednesday, and having more done on the 20th with me endocrinologist.

No blows to the head.

I actually do have a lump under my left nipple, but saw two dr's and both thought it wasn't gyno though I'm not convinced.

My outer eyebrows are normal.

I do use iodized salt but nothing crazy.

I can't do my own lab work unless I go to Walgreens on the spot check lab.

I have never used any gear. No pro hormones.

I have never used hair loss drugs or the others you listed.

I am confused why my total test
Is low and my free is high? I did use tribulus (750mg at 90% saponins and yohimbine HCL (10mg) the day before my test.

I'm wondering if there is something wrong with my hypothalamus as my FSH is low and I'm assuming it's affecting my test production since LH is in charge of that and the hypothalamus regulates both of those things (though this theory might be flawed as my LH is in normal ranges according to sheet)


I have noticed myself declining over time. I have a very good mind to muscle connection and have watched over these last few years as my weight has dropped, both off season and pre contest. My diet is dialed, and I am 100% on target for lifts and cardio so those aren't affecting it. I did get married, moved 9 times, and am sure my cortisol levels are extremely high


You probably have very low SHBG which can be problematic in itself. Have you ever tested for it?


I have never had it checked. I have an appt on the 20th with my endocrinologist so I'll make sure he checks it. What causes SHBG to decrease like that? It's interesting that it would drop my test from high 800-900's, down to 280 now.

I am just worried that it will continue to decrease. I was prescribed Cyp but I don't want to just put a bandaid over a problem and not fix the problem itself.

Ideally I want to get my body back up to 800 range without having to run trt all the time.

Thanks @KSman @blshaw


I have never seen this before. No range stated?
Was this a female panel?

This is secondary hypogonadism. E2 is a factor, but not root cause. At your age, labs for prolactin would be a good followup.

What State are you in?

"Normal" ranges are often not very useful as guidance.

LH is released in pulses with short half-life. So LH values are not very informative. Most of the time, FSH is a better indicator of LH status than LH itself as FSH has a much longer half-life.



The free testosterone test says as follows:

100 pg/ml (4.3-30.4)

To my understanding this was a normal panel but the tests on the sheet say:
Tests: Testos, Tot/Free (Adult Male)

The test does proclaim at the bottom that:

The following results were not dispersed to the flow sheet: free testosterone (adult male), >100 pg/ml

My dr also tested Ferritin which was:
130 ng/ml (11-450)

And iron:
129 ug


Iron was:
129 ug/dl (45-190)

Vitamin D:
45 ng/ml (30-150)

So when you say I have secondary hypogonadism you mean my hypothalamus isn't functioning properly so it's influencing my FSN and LH? Which has caused my total test to drop so dramatically and my free test to shoot through the roof?

When you say my E2 is a factor, at my age your saying I'm high even though my labs say I'm within range? Would make sense for why I have small gyno.

I am in Washington state.

Knowing all of this (though I know you can only give me your opinion), what is wrong with me and what can I do to fix it? I'm assuming running cypionate won't work as I need to fix the problem to get my body back to equilibrium?

Thanks @KSman and @blshaw


If your FT is that high, and LH/SH is low, something strange is happening.
Taking tribulus certainly clouds the issue. [Could that product contain testosterone?]

Some repeat labs might be helpful.

LH and FSH are pituitary hormones. The hypothalamus stimulates the pituitary. T, estrogens and prolactin are negative feedback signals to the hypothalamus.

Your E2 seems high relative to TT. But not to FT.

prolactin - no sex for a few days
fasting cholesterol
fasting glucose
AST/ALT - skip resistance training for a few days, no sore muscles
fT4 [please not T3, T4]
AM cortisol - at 8AM please

Any changes to weight, fat patterns and appetite? Sleeping issues? Energy levels? Energy crashes during afternoons? Sleepy now after meals? Less hair on lower legs?


@KSman yes I certainly agree that something strange is going on. I am stopping all supps (yohimbine HCL, tribulus) in the hopes that when I retest on the 20th that nothing is skewed. In past tests 2/15 and 3/25, my free test was normal 17.4.

I will have those labs taken by my endo when I go and get you updates.

As far as changes to weight, yes. I just did a 20 week diet for 2 bodybuilding shows I did on oct 1st and sept 24. I weighed in at 212 but am normally 253 in offseason. No fat patterns, but my appetite is always high. No sleeping issues, but my energy has been low since I was dieting. I do energy crash in afternoon. I don't sleep after meals. Same amount of hair on lower legs.


@KSman do you think using something like chlomid would help re stimulate my hypothalamus thus fixing my FSH and LH and in turn the LH would increase my total test


You can only try and see. If T is low and LH/FSH is elevated, the testes are not working right and a restart will fail. If the testes are not working because of repairable vascular defects, surgery is needed. Your lab results are inconsistent. Need some more labs to resolve this low TT and very high FT. It is you or lab errors. Be off of tribulus for a few weeks.

Does your libido say that your T is high or low?


@KSman I think mine is a case of low FSH and relatively low LH (I am speculating the low LH is why my TT is low) since the hypothalamus regulates both the LH and FSH levels directly, I am assuming my issue lies there. I am going to have testing done by my endo on thursday (have not see this one before, only my GP). I do know from the other two labs I had done that my TT was always low, and my FT was in normal ranges, it was only the most recent test that my FT was high (and I think part of it was due to the Trib as I wasn't using Trib for the first two tests).

This will be my 4th lab test and I am assuming this should clear up the issue of if its me, or the testing.

My libido is normal I would say, but I just got off of a 20 week diet for two bodybuilding shows I did so it is recovering from that. But typically it is normal.


@KSman @blshaw

Do you think I have low SHBG since my FT is high and my TT is so low?


@KSman @blshaw

Had my visit today with endo. He says my TT is in perfect range (which was a 280). Since my FT was
So high >100 (which I'm worried about is due to tribulus).

Not sure what to do now. I stopped tribulus 2 weeks ago and have a new lab on Friday and hope the trib will be out of my system.

Thoughts from you guys?


I made my best advice earlier.


What do you think of this article? Especially #4 for increasing SHGB?



SHBG seems to only be effected by external influences such as exogenous Test, steroids, and other drugs. You're stuck with what you have.