Hormonal and psychological adaptation in elite male rowers during prolonged training

J Sports Sci. 2006 Oct;24(10):1075-82. doi: 10.1080/02640410500432516.


In this study, we examined possible hormonal and psychological changes in elite male rowers during a 24-week preparatory period. Eleven elite male rowers were tested on seven occasions over the 6-month training season. Fasting testosterone, growth hormone, cortisol, and creatine kinase activity, together with perceived recovery-stress state were evaluated after a day of rest. Maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) was determined before and after the training period. Training was mainly organized as low-intensity prolonged training sessions. Significant increases in VO2max (from 6.2 +/- 0.5 to 6.4 +/- 0.6 l x min(-1)) were observed as a result of training. The overall perceived recovery-stress index did not change during the preparatory period. Standardized recovery and stress scores changed during the course of training in comparison with pre-training values. When basal hormone concentrations were compared with the first measurement, significant changes in testosterone and cortisol were observed together with changes in mean weekly training volume. Basal testosterone (r = 0.416; P = 0.010) and cortisol (r = 0.527; P = 0.001) were related to mean weekly training volume. Basal growth hormone did not change during the training. Changes in creatine kinase activity demonstrated similar pattern with changes in mean weekly training volume. The overall perceived recovery-stress index was related to testosterone, cortisol, growth hormone, and creatine kinase activity (r > 0.299; P < 0.015). Our findings indicate that testosterone and cortisol are more sensitive to changes in training volume than either growth hormone or perceived recovery-stress state in elite rowing training. Increases in these stress hormone concentrations represent a positive adaptation to current training load. Significant relationships between hormonal and perceived recovery-stress state suggest that metabolic and psychological changes should be carefully monitored to avoid a negative effect on the training status of elite rowers.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Composition
  • Creatine Kinase / blood
  • Exercise Tolerance
  • Fasting / blood
  • Growth Hormone / blood
  • Hormones / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Rest
  • Ships
  • Sports*
  • Stress, Physiological / blood
  • Testosterone / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Hormones
  • Testosterone
  • Growth Hormone
  • Creatine Kinase
  • Hydrocortisone