Neuromuscular and hormonal adaptations in athletes to strength training in two years

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1988 Dec;65(6):2406-12. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1988.65.6.2406.


Neuromuscular and hormonal adaptations to prolonged strength training were investigated in nine elite weight lifters. The average increases occurred over the 2-yr follow-up period in the maximal neural activation (integrated electromyogram, IEMG; 4.2%, P = NS), maximal isometric leg-extension force (4.9%, P = NS), averaged concentric power index (4.1%, P = NS), total weight-lifting result (2.8%, P less than 0.05), and total mean fiber area (5.9%, P = NS) of the vastus lateralis muscle, respectively. The training period resulted in increases in the concentrations of serum testosterone from 19.8 +/- 5.3 to 25.1 +/- 5.2 nmol/l (P less than 0.05), luteinizing hormone (LH) from 8.6 +/- 0.8 to 9.1 +/- 0.8 U/l (P less than 0.05), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from 4.2 +/- 2.0 to 5.3 +/- 2.3 U/l (P less than 0.01), and testosterone-to-serum sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) ratio (P less than 0.05). The annual mean value of the second follow-up year for the serum testosterone-to-SHBG ratio correlated significantly (r = 0.84, P less than 0.01) with the individual changes during the 2nd yr in the averaged concentric power. The present results suggest that prolonged intensive strength training in elite athletes may influence the pituitary and possibly hypothalamic levels, leading to increased serum levels of testosterone. This may create more optimal conditions to utilize more intensive training leading to increased strength development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Adult
  • Electromyography
  • Hormones / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology*
  • Physical Education and Training
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / metabolism
  • Sports*
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Lifting*


  • Hormones
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Testosterone