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Hormonal responses to physical training in high-level peripubertal male gymnasts

journal contribution
posted on 1998-11-01, 00:00 authored by Robin DalyRobin Daly, P A Rich, R Klein
The effects of performing intensive training during growth remains controversial, with claims of negative effects upon growth and maturation purportedly due at least in part to a combination of hormonal disturbances and inappropriate nutrition. We examined the training-related responses of total testosterone (T), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), cortisol (C) and diet in 16 peripubertal (pubertal stage <2) male gymnasts [mean (SD) age 10.5 (0.9) years, training 17.2 (5.6) h x week(-1)] and 17 controls [mean (SD) age 9.6 (1.2) years] over a 10-month period. Fasted, resting morning blood samples (0730-0900 hours) were taken from all children on Monday, Wednesday and Friday during a single week towards the end of each of three phases of gymnastics training: routine development (RD), precompetition (PC) and strength conditioning (SC). Serum concentrations of T, C and IGF-1 did not differ between the groups at any time. The ratio between IGF-1 and cortisol was significantly reduced in gymnasts relative to controls during RD and SC training (P<0.05), although no differences were detected for the T:C ratio. Diet did not correlate with any of the hormonal measurements, and no intergroup differences were found for the rate of growth in height. In summary, these results suggest that either the gymnastics training performed by these subjects was not intense enough to alter adrenal function, or that the gymnasts were well adapted to the training. In contrast, the reduction in the anabolic to catabolic balance represented by the IGF-1:C ratio is suggestive of a catabolic state, perhaps resulting from overstrain, insufficient recovery and/or inadequate caloric intake relative to energy output. While physical training during growth may induce a catabolic state, further research is needed to determine the biological significance of this finding, particularly with regard to growth and maturation.



European journal of applied physiology and occupational physiology






74 - 81









Publication classification

CN.1 Other journal article