Moderate Intensity Resistance Training Significantly Elevates Testosterone following Upper Body and Lower Body Bouts When Total Volume is Held Constant

Robert Rietjens, Tori M. Stone, Jeffrey Montes, John C. Young, Richard D. Tandy, Jenifer C. Utz, James W. Navalta


Introduction: It is unknown whether resistance training intensity or total volume of work affects the acute testosterone response to a greater extent. Purpose: Therefore, the circulating testosterone response was investigated following four resistance training protocols where total volume of work was held constant: moderate intensity (70% 1RM) upper body (bench press, bent barbell row, and military press), moderate intensity lower body (squat and deadlift), high intensity (90% 1RM) upper body, high intensity lower body. Methods: Total volume of work performed by each participant between protocols was maintained by adjusting the number of sets and or repetitions performed. Ten healthy, resistance trained men volunteered, and performed exercise protocols on separate days in a counterbalanced order. Capillary blood was obtained via finger stick at baseline (pre), immediately following the exercise session (post), and 1h post for the determination of testosterone concentration. Data were analyzed using a factorial ANOVA and significance was accepted at p≤ 0.05. Results: Both moderate intensity resistance protocols (upper and lower body) significantly increased testosterone concentration (p=0.026, and p=0.024 respectively), whereas the high intensity protocols elevated testosterone but failed to achieve significance (upper p=0.272, lower p=0.658). No difference was noted in post session testosterone concentration between upper and lower body protocols for either moderate (p=0.248) or high intensity (p=0.990). Conclusion: This may be useful for novice resistance trained individuals because it provides evidence that moderate intensity is sufficient to increase testosterone compared to high intensity protocols that could be associated with a greater risk of injury.

Keywords: hormone response, equal total work, high intensity protocol

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