How Hormones Change With Exercise: Train For Muscle Growth & Strength

How Hormones Change With Exercise: Train For Muscle Growth & Strength

Any form of training causes shifts in hormone concentrations, with the shifts being dependent upon the exercise type, duration and intensity of training. Resistance training is the most influential factor in the acute hormonal responses to exercise, and the details of your resistance training can ensure you optimise the hormonal response to maximise the adaptation you want.

Simply put, when resistance training you are aiming to raise your testosterone levels; it is this stimulus that eventually leads to muscle growth and strength developments.


The opposing hormone is Cortisol, which is a hormone released in response to stress. The Cortisol:Testosterone ratio may indicate the catabolic/anabolic environment of the body, ie, 'is the body in a state of growth or is it in a state of decline?'. Training aims to target an optimal testosterone response in order to produce adaptation.

Exercise type

As mentioned above, resistance training is your best bet to maximise an acute hormonal response. With resistance training, large, multi-joint exercises are best to maximise testosterone release.

Research has shown deadlifts, back squat and jump squats to be the best exercises for achieving a testosterone rich physiological environment.


By using these exercises at the start of a programme, you can increase levels of circulating testosterone and then perform the smaller, accessory exercises after this.

Intensity and Volume

Training intensity is essentially how difficult the work is and the rate at which energy is being expended. 

Volume refers to the number of sets and reps you are doing and how much energy is being expended over a time period.

Research has shown volume to be the most significant programme in eliciting a testosterone release and generating subsequent hypertrophy. When volume remains high (10 sets x 10 reps), positive testosterone and hypertrophy responses have been demonstrated with intensity as low as 30% 1RM (one repetition maximum).

Rest periods also affect hormonal levels, with testosterone seen to increase with rest periods around 120 seconds.

Rest periods are crucial to avoid the degradation of muscle that will results from a high intensity training environment and will increase circulating cortisol levels.

Programming and practical applications

To maximise your testosterone release using resistance training, remember to keep the volume high and begin with large, multi-joint exercises. Following that, progress onto smaller exercises if required.


1. Deadlifts - 10 Sets - 10 Reps - Rest for 3mins
2. Back Squat - 8 Sets - 10 Reps - Rest for 3mins
3. Romanian Deadlift - 6 Sets - 10 Reps - Rest for 3mins
4. Dumbbell Chest press - 6 Sets - 10 Reps - Rest for 3mins
5. Abs Roll Out - 4 Sets - 12 Reps - Rest for 3mins


Let us know how you get on with this training programme!

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