Effects of strongman training on salivary testosterone levels in a sample of trained men

Jamie J Ghigiarelli, Katie M Sell, Jessica M Raddock, Kurt Taveras
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 2013, 27 (3): 738-47
Strongman exercises consist of multi-joint movements that incorporate large muscle mass groups and impose a substantial amount of neuromuscular stress. The purpose of this study was to examine salivary testosterone responses from 2 novel strongman training (ST) protocols in comparison with an established hypertrophic (H) protocol reported to acutely elevate testosterone levels. Sixteen men (24 ± 4.4 years, 181.2 ± 6.8 cm, and 95.3 ± 20.3 kg) volunteered to participate in this study. Subjects completed 3 protocols designed to ensure equal total volume (sets and repetitions), rest period, and intensity between the groups. Exercise sets were performed to failure. Exercise selection and intensity (3 sets × 10 repetitions at 75% 1 repetition maximum) were chosen as they reflected commonly prescribed resistance exercise protocols recognized to elicit a large acute hormonal response. In each of the protocols, subjects were required to perform 3 sets to muscle failure of 5 different exercises (tire flip, chain drag, farmers walk, keg carry, and atlas stone lift) with a 2-minute rest interval between sets and a 3-minute rest interval between exercises. Saliva samples were collected pre-exercise (PRE), immediate postexercise (PST), and 30 minutes postexercise (30PST). Delta scores indicated a significant difference between PRE and PST testosterone level within each group (p ≤ 0.05), with no significant difference between the groups. Testosterone levels spiked 136% (225.23 ± 148.01 pg·ml(-1)) for the H group, 74% (132.04 ± 98.09 pg·ml(-1)) for the ST group, and 54% (122.10 ± 140.67 pg·ml) for the mixed strongman/hypertrophy (XST) group. A significant difference for testosterone level occurred over time (PST to 30PST) for the H group p ≤ 0.05. In conclusion, ST elicits an acute endocrine response similar to a recognized H protocol when equated for duration and exercise intensity.

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