Effects of testosterone and progressive resistance exercise in healthy, highly functioning older men with low-normal testosterone levels

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 May;98(5):1891-900. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-2227. Epub 2013 Mar 26.


Context: Aging in men is associated with reduced testosterone (T) levels and physiological changes leading to frailty, but the benefits of T supplementation are inconclusive.

Objective: We studied the effects of T supplementation with and without progressive resistance training (PRT) on functional performance, strength, and body composition.

Design, setting, and participants: We recruited 167 generally healthy community-dwelling older men (66 ± 5 years) with low-normal baseline total T levels (200-350 ng/dL).

Intervention: Subjects were randomized to placebo or transdermal T gel [2 doses targeting either a lower (400-550 ng/dL) or higher (600-1000 ng/dL) T range] and to either PRT or no exercise for 12 months.

Main outcome measure: The primary outcome was functional performance, whereas secondary outcomes were strength and body composition.

Results: A total of 143 men completed the study. At 12 months, total T was 528 ± 287 ng/dL in subjects receiving any T and 287 ± 65 ng/dL in the placebo group. In the PRT group, function and strength were not different between T- and placebo-treated subjects, despite greater improvements in fat mass (P = .04) and fat-free mass (P = .01) with T. In the non-PRT group, T did not improve function but improved fat mass (P = .005), fat-free mass (P = .03), and upper body strength (P = .03) compared with placebo. There were fewer cardiovascular events in the T-treated groups compared with placebo.

Conclusions: T supplementation was well tolerated and improved body composition but had no effect on functional performance. T supplementation improved upper body strength only in nonexercisers compared with placebo.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Lost to Follow-Up
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / drug effects
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Resistance Training*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis
  • Testosterone / administration & dosage
  • Testosterone / adverse effects
  • Testosterone / deficiency*
  • Testosterone / therapeutic use*
  • Upper Extremity


  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Testosterone