, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 104–118 | Cite as

Effect of different seasonal strength training protocols on circulating androgen levels and performance parameters in professional soccer players

  • Nikolaos E. Koundourakis
  • Nikolaos Androulakis
  • Eirini C. Spyridaki
  • Elias Castanas
  • Niki Malliaraki
  • Christos Tsatsanis
  • Andrew N. MargiorisEmail author
Research paper



To examine the effects of three seasonal training programs, largely different in strength volume, on androgen levels and performance parameters in soccer players.


Sixty-seven soccer players, members of three different professional teams, participated in the study. Strength intensity of the training programs were assessed as high (for Team-A, n = 23), moderate (for Team-B, n = 22), and low (for Team-C, n = 22). Blood samples were analyzed for total-testosterone, free-testosterone, and the metabolic product of activate testosterone 3a-androstendiol glucuronade (3a-Diol-G). Players were tested for maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), squad-jump (SJ), countermovement-jump (CMJ), 10m and 20m sprint performance prior at the beginning of the pre-season period, at the middle (mid-point), and at the end of the competition period (end-point).


All performance parameters increased significantly until mid-point in all teams (p<0.001). However, performance was further increased only in Team-A only for jumping and sprinting ability between end-point vs mid-point (p<0.001). An effect of the training program of Team-A on TT levels was evident exhibiting significant differences between at all point-measurements (baseline/mid-point:p=0.024, baseline/end-point:p<0.001, mid/end-point:p = 0.008), while a marginally significant effect (p = 0.051) was detected within Team-B and a non-significant effect in Team-C. Similar results were obtained for 3a-Diol-G in Team-A (p=0.001) where significant differences were found between end-point to both baseline (p = 0.001) and mid-point (p = 0.038). No differences were detectable for FT. A borderline significant negative correlation was observed between 3a-Diol-G and VO2max in Team-B at mid-point. No other correlations were evident between performance and hormonal parameters.


Our findings suggest that the volume of strength training combined with intensive soccer training caused an elevation of circulating TT and 3a-Diol-G levels in parallel to the induction of performance capacity. It is our opinion that the elevation of endogenous androgens as a result of the volume of strength training indicates that the only method to improve athletic performance is hard training. There are no substitutes or shortcuts. If the organism needs more androgens it will produce them endogenously.

Key words

Androgen metabolite Exercise performance Soccer Strength Testosterone 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Ahtiainen JP, Pakarinen A, Alen M, Kraemer WJ, Häkkinen K, 2003 Muscle hypertrophy, hormonal adaptations and strength development during strength training in strength-trained ad untrained men. Eur J Appl Physiol 89: 555–563.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Aldercrentz H, Harkonen M, Kuoppasalmi K, et al, 1986 Effect of training on plasma anabolic and catabolic steroid hormones and their response during physical training. Int sports Med 7: 27–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Baker D, 1996 Improving vertical jump performance through general, special, and specific strength: A brief review. J Strength Cond Res 10: 131–136.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Bangsbo J, 1994 The physiology of soccer: with special reference to intense intermittent exercise. Acta Physiol Scand 15 (suppl): 1–156.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Bosco C 1993 Test di valutazione della donna nella pratica del calcio. In: Arri del Confegno Nazionale il Calcio Femminile. Aspetti Medici e Tecnici. FIGC, Frienze; pp. 219–230.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Busso T, 2003 Variable dose-response relationship between exercise training and performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 35: 1188–1195.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Caldwell BP, Peters DM, 2009 Seasonal variation in physiological fitness of a semiprofessional soccer Team. J Strength Cond Res 23: 1370–1377.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cardinale M, Stone MH, 2006 Is testosterone influencing explosive performance? J Strength Cond Res 20: 103–107.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Crether BT, Cook CJ, Gaviglio CM, Kilduff LP, Drawer S, 2012 Baseline strength can influence the ability of salivary free testosterone to predict squat and sprinting performance. J Strength Cond Res 26: 261–268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Da Silva AI, Fernandes LC, Fernandez R, 2008 Energy expenditure and intensity of physical activity in soccer referees during match-play. J Sports Sci Med 7: 327–334.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Davis DS, Barnette BJ, Kiger JT, Mirasola JJ, Young SM, 2004 Physical characteristics that predict functional performance in Division I college football players. J Strength Cond Res 18: 115–120.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    De Villarreal ES, Gonzalez-Badillo JJ, Izquierdo M, 2008 Low and moderate plyometric training frequency produces greater jumping and sprinting gains compared with high frequency. J Strength Cond Res 22: 715–725.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Farzad B, Gharakhanlou R, Agha-Alinejad H, et al, 2010 Effect of 4 Weeks of Supramaximal Sprint Interval Training on Physiological, Hormonal and Metabolic Factors. Iranian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism 12: 34–41.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Filaire E, Bernain X, Sagnol M, Lac G, 2001 Preliminary results on mood state, salivary testosterone: cortisol ratio and Team performance in professional soccer Team. Eur J Appl Physiol 86: 179–184.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Foster C, Hector LL, Welsh R, Schrager M, Grenn MA, Snyder AC, 1995 Effects of specific versus cross-training on running performance. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 70: 367–372.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Grandi M, Celani MF, 1990 Effects of football on the pituitary-testicular axis (PTA): differences between professional and non-professional soccer players. Exp Clin Endocrinol 96: 253–259.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Gorostiaga EM, Izquierdo M, Ruesta M, Iribarren J, González-Badillo JJ, Ibáñez J, 2004 Strength training effects on physical performance and serum hormones in young soccer players. Eur J Appl Physiol 91: 698–707.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Griggs RC, Kingston W, Jozefowicz RF, Herr BE, Forbes G, Halliday D, 1989 Effect of testosterone on muscle mass and muscle protein synthesis. J Appl Physiol 66: 498–503.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Hackney CA, 1989 Endurance training and testosterone levels. Sports Med 8: 117–127.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Häkkinen K, Pakarinen A, 1993 Acute hormonal responses to two different fatiguing heavy resistance protocols in male athletes. J Appl Physiol 74: 882–887.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Häkkinen K, Pakarinen A, Alen M, Kauhanen H, Komi PV, 1988 Neuromuscular and hormonal adaptations in athletes to strength training in two years. J Appl Physiol 65: 2406–2412.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Häkkinen K, Pakarinen A, Kyröläinen H, Cheng S, Kim DH, Komi PV, 1990 Neuromuscular adaptations and serum hormones in females during prolonged power training. Int J sports Med 11: 91–98.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Hartgens F, Kuipers H, 2004 Effects of androgenic-anabolic steroids in athletes. Sports Med 34: 513–554.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Hartman MJ, Clark B, Bembens DA, Kilgore JL, Bemben MG, 2007 Comparisons between twice-daily and once-daily training sessions in male weight lifters. Int J sports Physiol Perform 2: 159–169.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Hawkins VN, Foster-Schubert K, Chubak J, et al, 2008 Effect of Exercise on serum Sex Hormones in Men: A 12-Month Randomized Clinical Trial Med Sci Sports Exerc 40: 223–233.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Hunter GR, Weinsier RL, Bamman MM, Larson DE, 1998 A role for high intensity exercise on energy balance and weight control. Int J Obes (Lond) 22: 489–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Jackson AS, Pollock Ml, 1978 Generalized equations for predicting body density of men. Br J Nutr 40: 497–504.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Kalapotharakos V, Ziogas G, Tokmakidis P, 2011 Seasonal aerobic performance variations in elite soccer players. J Strength Cond Res 25: 1502–1507.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Kraemer WJ, French DN, Paxton NJ, et al, 2004 Changes in exercise performance and hormonal concentrations over a Big Ten soccer season in starters and nonstarters. J Strength Cond Res 18: 121–128.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Kraemer WJ, Häkkinen K, Newton RU, et al, 1995a Factors in various strength and power performance in men. In: Proceedings of the XVth Congress of the International society of Biomechanics. Jyväskylä: University of Jyväskylä; pp, 508–509.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Kraemer WJ, Häkkinen K, Newton RU, et al, 1999 Effects of resistance training on hormonal response patterns in younger vs. older men. J Appl Physiol 87: 982–992.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Kraemer WJ, Patton, JF, Gordon SE, et al, 1995b Compatibility of high-intensity strength and endurance training on hormonal and skeletal muscle adaptations. J Appl Physiol 78: 976–989.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Kraemer WJ, Ratamess NA, Fry AC, French DN, 1995c Strength testing. Development and evaluation of methodology. In: Physiological Assessment of Human Fitness. Maud, J and Foster C (eds) Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL; pp, 115–138.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Labrie F, Belanger A, Cusan L, Gomez JL, Candas B, 1997 Marked decline in serum concentrations of adrenal C19 sex steroid precursors and conjugated androgen metabolites during aging. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 82: 2396–2402.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Larew K, Hunter GR, Larson-Meyer DE, Newcomer BR, McCarthy LP, Weinsier RL, 2003 Muscle metabolic function, exercise performance, and weight gain. Med Sci Sports Exerc 35: 230–236.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Manolopoulos E, Papadopoulos C, Kellis E, 2006 Effects of combined strength and kick coordination training on soccer kick biomechanics in amateur players. Scand J Med Sci Sports 16: 102–110.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Marcovic G, Jukic I, Milanovic D, Metikos D, 2007 Effects of sprint and plyometric training on muscle function and athletic performance. J Strength Cond Res 21: 543–549.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Mercer T, Gleeson N, Mitchell J, 1997 Fitness profiles of professional soccer players before and after preseason conditioning. In: Science and Football 3, Reilly T, Bangsbo J, Hughes M (eds) London: E and FN Spon; pp, 112–117.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Ozkan A, Kayihan G, Köklü Y, et al, 2012 The Relationship Between Body Composition, Anaerobic Performance and sprint Ability of Amputee soccer Players. J Hum Kin 35: 141–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Pacobahyba N, De Souza Vale RG, De Souza SLP, Simão R, Santos E, Martin Dantas EH, 2012 Muscle strength, serum basal levels of testosterone and urea in soccer athletes submitted to non-linear periodization program. Rev Bras Med Esporte 18: 130–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Robbins DW, Young WB, 2012 Positional relationships between various sprints and jumps abilities in elite American football players. J strength Cond Res 26: 388–397.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Rønnestad BR, Nymark BS, Raastad T, 2011 Effects of in-season strength maintenance training frequency in professional soccer players. J strength Cond Res 2011 25: 2653–2560.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Smilios I, Pilianidis T, Karamouzis M, Tokmakidis S, 2003 Hormonal responses after various resistance exercise protocols. Med Sci Sports Exerc 35: 644–654.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Staron RS, Karapondo DL, Kraemer WJ, 1994 Skeletal muscle adaptations during early phase of heavy-resistance training in men and women. J Appl Physiol 76: 1247–1255.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Trappe TA, Gastaldelli A, Jozsi AC, Troup JP, Wolfe RR, 1997 Energy expenditure of swimmers during high volume training Med Sci Sports Exerc 29: 950–954.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Tremblay MS, Copeland JL, Van Helder W, 2004 Effect of training status and exercise mode on endogenous steroid hormones in men. J Appl Physiol 96: 531–539.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Urhausen A, Gabriel H, Kindermann W, 1995 Blood hormones as markers of training stress and overtraining. Sports Med 20: 251–276.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Vingren JL, Kraemer WJ, Ratamess NA, Anderson JM, Maresh CM, 2010 Testosterone physiology in resistance exercise and training: the up-stream regulatory elements. Sports Med 40: 1037–1053.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Yarrow JF, Borsa PA, Borst SE, Sitren HS, Stevens BR, White LJ, 2008 Early-Phase Neuroendocrine Responses and strength Adaptations Following Eccentric-Enhanced Resistance Training. J Strength Cond Res 22: 1205–1214.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Yoshioka M, Boivin A, Ye P, Labrie F, St-Amand J, 2006 Effects of dihydrotestosterone on skeletal muscle transcriptome in mice measured by serial analysis of gene expression. J Mol Endocrinol 36: 247–259.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Hellenic Endocrine Society 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikolaos E. Koundourakis
    • 1
    • 4
  • Nikolaos Androulakis
    • 2
    • 4
  • Eirini C. Spyridaki
    • 1
    • 4
  • Elias Castanas
    • 3
    • 4
  • Niki Malliaraki
    • 3
    • 4
  • Christos Tsatsanis
    • 1
    • 4
  • Andrew N. Margioris
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Laboratory of Clinical Chemistry - Biochemistry, Department of Laboratory Medicine, School of MedicineUniversity of CreteHeraklion, CreteGreece
  2. 2.Department of Laboratory HaematologyUniversity HospitalHeraklion, CreteGreece
  3. 3.Laboratory of Experimental EndocrinologyUniversity of Crete, School of Medicine, and University HospitalHeraklion, CreteGreece
  4. 4.Departments of Clinical ChemistryUniversity of Crete, School of Medicine, and University HospitalHeraklion, CreteGreece

Personalised recommendations