European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 9, pp 1921–1931 | Cite as

Effects of upper-body, lower-body, or combined resistance training on the ratio of follistatin and myostatin in middle-aged men

  • Reza Bagheri
  • Amir RashidlamirEmail author
  • Mohamad S. Motevalli
  • Bradley T. Elliott
  • Javad Mehrabani
  • Alexei Wong
Original Article



Due to the mechanistic role of myostatin and follistatin in modulating muscle mass, shifts in the follistatin to myostatin ratio (F:M) may help explain changes in muscular size in response to resistance training (RT). The present study examined whether differential responses in follistatin and myostatin occur based on the amount of active musculature in a RT program in middle-aged men.


Forty middle-aged men (age = 46.5 ± 3.1 years) were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups, upper-body RT (UB; n = 10), lower-body RT (LB; n = 10), combined RT (UB + LB; n = 10) or control (C; n = 10). The training protocol consisted of three exercise sessions per week for 8 weeks. Blood samples were obtained at baseline and 48 h after the final session of the training program.


Muscle mass significantly increased (p < 0.05) following UB = 0.76 ± 0.46 kg, LB = 0.90 ± 0.29 kg, UB + LB = 1.38 ± 0.70 kg, compared to no changes after control. Serum follistatin increased in the LB = 0.24 ± 0.06 ng mL−1, UB = 0.27 ± 0.17 ng mL−1, UB + LB = 0.50 ± 0.18 ng mL−1, while serum myostatin decreased in the LB = − 0.11 ± 0.08 ng mL−1 and UB + LB = − 0.34 ± 0.23 ng mL−1, but not UB = 0.07 ± 0.16 ng mL−1. Further, change in concentration following training was larger between UB + LB and either LB or UB alone for both follistatin and myostatin.


Both UB and LB increase muscle mass and alter the F: M ratio; however, the change in these endocrine markers is approximately twice as large if UB and LB is combined. The endocrine response to RT of myostatin and follistatin may depend on the volume of muscle mass activated during training.


Follistatin Myostatin Resistance training Follistatin to myostatin ratio 



Resistance training


Follistatin to myostatin ratio


Skeletal muscle mass


Percent body fat


Body mass index


Lean body mass


Fat mass


One repetition maximum

ng mL−1

Nanograms per milliliter


Upper body


Lower body


Upper body + lower body




Analysis of variance




Insulin-like growth factor 1



The authors wish to thank all the participants in this research project.

Author contributions

AR conceived and designed research. RB conducted the experiments and wrote the paper. AW and JM fixed grammatical mistakes. In addition, AW analyzed data, contributed in writing the paper and preparing revisions. MSM analyzed the nutrition data. BTE analyzed the other data, wrote the result sections and fixed all the section of the paper academically. Finally, all the authors read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reza Bagheri
    • 1
  • Amir Rashidlamir
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mohamad S. Motevalli
    • 1
  • Bradley T. Elliott
    • 2
  • Javad Mehrabani
    • 3
  • Alexei Wong
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Exercise PhysiologyFerdowsi University of MashhadMashhadIran
  2. 2.Translational Physiology Research Group, School of Life SciencesUniversity of WestminsterLondonUK
  3. 3.Deparment of Exercise Physiology, University of GuilanRashtIran
  4. 4.Department of Health and Human PerformanceMarymount UniversityArlingtonUSA

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