Ergogenic and metabolic effects of oral glucocorticoid intake during repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise

Steroids. 2014 Aug:86:10-5. doi: 10.1016/j.steroids.2014.04.008. Epub 2014 Apr 30.


All systemically administered glucocorticoids (GC) are prohibited in-competition, because of the potential ergogenic effects. Although short-term GC intake has been shown to improve performance during submaximal exercise, literature on its impact during brief intense exercise appears to be very scant. The purpose of this study was to examine the ergogenic and metabolic effects of prednisone during repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise. In a double-blind randomized protocol, ten recreational male athletes followed two 1-week treatments (Cor: prednisone, 60mg/day or Pla: placebo). At the end of each treatment, they hopped on their dominant leg for 30s three times consecutively and then hopped until exhaustion, with intervals of 5min of passive recovery. Blood and saliva samples were collected at rest and 3min after each exercise bout to determine the lactate, interleukin-6, interleukin-10, TNF-alpha, DHEA and testosterone values. The absolute peak force of the dominant leg was significantly increased by Cor but only during the first 30-s hopping bout (p<0.05), whereas time to exhaustion was not significantly changed after Cor treatment vs Pla (Pla: 119.9±24.7; Cor: 123.1±29.5s). Cor intake lowered basal and end-exercise plasma interleukin-6 and saliva DHEA (p<0.01) and increased interleukin-10 (p<0.01), whereas no significant change was found in blood lactate and TNF-alpha or saliva testosterone between Pla and Cor. According to these data, short-term glucocorticoid intake did not improve endurance performance during repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise, despite the significant initial increase in absolute peak force and anti-inflammatory effect.

Keywords: Cytokine; DHEA; Performance; Prednisone; Testosterone.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage*
  • Glucocorticoids / blood
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Young Adult


  • Glucocorticoids