Salivary concentrations of cortisol and testosterone and prediction of performance in a professional triathlon competition

Stress. 2012 Sep;15(5):495-502. doi: 10.3109/10253890.2011.642033. Epub 2012 Jan 10.


The aim of this study was to examine salivary cortisol and testosterone concentrations in professional male athletes during a short triathlon competition using non-invasive methods, and to determine whether these hormone concentrations could be accurate predictors of performance. Eight adult male athletes (age, mean ± SEM: 27.8 ± 3.2 years; body mass index: 21.66 ± 0.42) in a professional triathlon team volunteered to participate in this study. Saliva samples were taken on the competition day and 7 days after competition on a rest day. The performance of the athletes was assessed by their rank order in the competition. Salivary cortisol concentrations were greater on the competition day than on the rest day in the early morning, immediately after waking up, 30 min later, immediately before the start of the competition, and later in the evening. Testosterone concentrations were greater on the competition day in the morning and in the evening. The diurnal rhythm of both cortisol and testosterone concentrations was maintained on both days and the testosterone/cortisol ratio (T/C ratio) was similar between days. The performance of the athletes was positively correlated with salivary cortisol concentration in the early morning of the competition day, but was not correlated with testosterone concentrations at any of the time points. In conclusion, early morning salivary cortisol concentration, but not T/C ratio, could be used to predict performance in athletes during a professional triathlon competition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / analysis*
  • Male
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Pituitary-Adrenal System / physiology
  • Saliva / chemistry*
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Testosterone / analysis*


  • Testosterone
  • Hydrocortisone