Recovery responses of testosterone, growth hormone, and IGF-1 after resistance exercise

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2017 Mar 1;122(3):549-558. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00599.2016. Epub 2016 Nov 17.


The complexity and redundancy of the endocrine pathways during recovery related to anabolic function in the body belie an oversimplistic approach to its study. The purpose of this review is to examine the role of resistance exercise (RE) on the recovery responses of three major anabolic hormones, testosterone, growth hormone(s), and insulin-like growth factor 1. Each hormone has a complexity related to differential pathways of action as well as interactions with binding proteins and receptor interactions. Testosterone is the primary anabolic hormone, and its concentration changes during the recovery period depending on the upregulation or downregulation of the androgen receptor. Multiple tissues beyond skeletal muscle are targeted under hormonal control and play critical roles in metabolism and physiological function. Growth hormone (GH) demonstrates differential increases in recovery with RE based on the type of GH being assayed and workout being used. IGF-1 shows variable increases in recovery with RE and is intimately linked to a host of binding proteins that are essential to its integrative actions and mediating targeting effects. The RE stress is related to recruitment of muscle tissue with the glandular release of hormones as signals to target tissues to support homeostatic mechanisms for metabolism and tissue repair during the recovery process. Anabolic hormones play a crucial role in the body's response to metabolism, repair, and adaptive capabilities especially in response to anabolic-type RE. Changes of these hormones following RE during recovery in the circulatory biocompartment of blood are reflective of the many mechanisms of action that are in play in the repair and recovery process.

Keywords: anabolic hormones; humans; muscle; strength training.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Human Growth Hormone / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Resistance Training*
  • Testosterone / metabolism*
  • Young Adult


  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Testosterone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I