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Acute effects of high-intensity interval, resistance or combined exercise protocols on testosterone – cortisol responses in inactive overweight individuals

Velasco-Orjuela, Gina P., Domínguez-Sanchéz, María A., Hernández, Enrique, Correa-Bautista, Jorge E., Triana-Reina, Héctor R., García-Hermoso, Antonio, Peña-Ibagon, Jhonatan C., Izquierdo, Mikel, Cadore, Eduardo L., Hackney, Anthony C., Ramírez-Vélez, Robinson
Physiology & behavior 2018 v.194 pp. 401-409
acute effects, adults, blood serum, body mass index, clinical trials, cortisol, heart rate, men, obesity, protocols, strength training, testosterone, waist circumference
The purpose of this study was to compare the hormonal responses to one session of high-intensity interval training (HIIT, 4 × 4 min intervals at 85–95% maximum heart rate [HRmax], interspersed with 4 min of recovery at 75–85% HRmax), resistance training (RT at 50–70% of one repetition maximum 12–15 repetitions per set with 60s of recovery) or both (HIIT+RT) exercise protocol in a cohort of physical inactivity, overweight adults (age 18–30 years old). Randomized, parallel-group clinical trial among fifty-one men (23.6 ± 3.5 yr; 83.5 ± 7.8 kg; 28.0 ± 1.9 kg/m2), physical inactivity (i.e., <150 min of moderate-intensity exercise per week for >6 months), with abdominal obesity (waist circumference ≥90 cm) or body mass index ≥25 and ≤30 kg/m2 were randomized to the following 4 groups: high-intensity interval training (HIIT, n = 14), resistance training (RT, n = 12), combined high-intensity interval and resistance training (HIIT+RT, n = 13), or non-exercising control (CON, n = 12). Cortisol, total- and free-testosterone and total-testosterone/cortisol-ratio (T/C) assessments (all in serum) were determined before (pre) and 1-min post-exercise for each protocol session. Decreases in cortisol levels were −57.08 (95%CI, −75.58 to −38.58; P = 0.001; ɳ2 = 0.61) and − 37.65 (95%CI, −54.36 to −20.93; P = 0.001; ɳ2 = 0.51) in the HIIT and control group, respectively. Increases in T/C ratio were 0.022 (95%CI, 0.012 to 0.031; P = 0.001; ɳ2 = 0.49) and 0.015 (95%CI, 0.004 to 0.025; P = 0.007; ɳ2 = 0.29) in the HIIT and control group, respectively. In per-protocol analyses revealed a significant change in cortisol levels [interaction effect F(7.777), ɳ2 = 0.33] and T/C ratio [interaction effect F(5.298), ɳ2 = 0.25] between groups over time. Additionally, we showed that in both the intention-to-treat (ITT) and per protocol analyses, HIIT+RT did not change serum cortisol, total or free testosterone. The present data indicate a HIIT reduced cortisol and increased total-testosterone/cortisol-ratio levels significantly in physically inactive adults. Further study is required to determine the biological importance of these changes in hormonal responses in overweight men.