Testosterone Responses after Resistance Exercise in Women: Influence of Regional Fat Distribution

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Bradley C. Nindl
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William J. Kraemer
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Lincoln A. Gotshalk
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James O. Marx
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Jeff S. Volek
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Jill A. Bush
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Keijo Häkkinen
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Robert U. Newton
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Steve J. Fleck
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Regional fat distribution (RFD) has been associated with metabolic derangements in populations with obesity. For example, upper body fat patterning is associated with higher levels of free testosterone (FT) and lower levels of sex-hormone binding globulin (SHBG). We sought to determine the extent to which this relationship was true in a healthy (i.e., non-obese) female population and whether RFD influenced androgen responses to resistance exercise. This study examined the effects of RFD on total testosterone (TT), FT, and SHBG responses to an acute resistance exercise test (ARET) among 47 women (22 ± 3 years; 165 ± 6 cm; 62 ± 8 kg; 25 ± 5 %BF; 23 ± 3 BMI). RFD was characterized by 3 separate indices: waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), ratio of upper arm fat to mid-thigh fat assessed with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI ratio), and ratio of subscapular to triceps ratio (SB/TRi ratio). Skinfolds were measured for the triceps, chest, subscapular, mid-axillary, suprailaic, abdomen, and thigh regions. The ARET consisted of 6 sets of 10 RM squats separated by 2-min rest periods. Blood was obtained pre- and post- ARET. TT, FT, and SHBG concentrations were determined by radioimmunoassay. Subjects were divided into tertiles from the indices of RFD, and statistical analyses were performed by an ANOVA with repeated measures (RFD and exercise as main effects). Significant (p < .05) increases following the AHRET were observed for TT (~25%), FT (~25%), and SHBG (4%). With multiple regression analysis, anthropometric measures significantly predicted pre- concentrations of FT, post-concentrations of TT, and pre-concentrations of SHBG. The SB/TRi and MRI ratios but not the WHR, were discriminant for hormonal concentrations among the tertiles. In young, healthy women, resistance exercise can induce transient increases in testosterone, and anthropometric markers of adiposity correlate with testosterone concentrations.

B.C. Nindl is with the Military Performance Division at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, MA 01760. W.J. Kraemer and J.S. Volek are with the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269. L.A. Gotshalk is with the Department of Health and Physical Education at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hilo, HI 96720. J.O. Marx is with the Noll Physiological Research Center at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 01680. J.A. Bush is with the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at the Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030. K. Häkkinen is with the Neuromuscular Research Center and the Department of Biology of Physical Activity at the University of Jyzäskylä, Finland 40351. R.U. Newton is with the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306. S.J. Fleck is with the Department of Sport Science at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO 80903.

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