The Effect of High-Intensity Interval Training Periods on Morning Serum Testosterone and Cortisol Levels and Physical Fitness in Men Aged 35-40 Years

J Clin Med. 2021 May 15;10(10):2143. doi: 10.3390/jcm10102143.


Background: Intensive physical activity largely modulates resting concentrations of blood cortisol (C) and testosterone (T) and their molar ratio, which is defined as the anabolic-catabolic index and expressed as T/C × 102. The aim of the study is to evaluate the effect of the author's high-intensity training program on T, C, T/C × 102, and selected physical fitness indices in men between 35 and 40 years of age.

Methods: The experiment was conducted on a group of 30 healthy men, divided into control and experimental groups. The experimental group followed a high-intensity 8-week training program, which included three sessions per week, each of them lasting 1 h and consisting of intensive-interval exercises followed by strength circuit exercises. The controls did not change their previous recreational physical activity. T, C, and T/C × 102 were measured before and after the experiment for all participants. Physical performance was examined using a standardized laboratory exercise test to determine maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max).

Results: There were statistically significant increases in T (by 36.7%) and T/C × 102 (by 59%), while C somewhat dropped (by 12%) in the experimental group. No changes in the hormonal indices were found in the control group. After completing the experimental training, there were no statistically significant changes in aerobic capacity, but it improved muscle strength in the men studied.

Conclusions: High-intensity interval training, continued over an 8-week period, modulates (significantly and positively) the balance between testosterone and cortisol levels and improves physical capacity in men aged 35-40 years.

Keywords: blood; hormones; men; physical performance; training period.