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Stephanie A. Sontag, CSCS, NSCA-CPT – Student, University of Kansas

Justin X. Nicoll, PhD, CSCS*D – Assistant Professor, California State University, Northridge

Andrew C. Fry, PhD, CSCS*D, FNSCA – Professor, University of Kansas

Eric M. Mosier, PhD, USAW – Assistant Professor , Northwest Missouri State University


PURPOSE: To examine the importance of training status on the acute cortisol response to a lower body high volume-moderate intensity resistance exercise (RE) bout in college aged men. METHODS: Resistance trained (RT) men (n = 10;  ± SD, age = 21.3 ± 1.7 yrs, height = 175.8 ± 6.8 cm, body mass = 84.5 ± 13.5 kg, squat 1RM = 154.3 ± 19.3 kg, training history = 5.4 ± 2.0 yrs) and untrained men (UT) (n = 9;  ± SD, age = 20.8 ± 3.1 yrs , height = 178.7 ± 8.9 cm, body mass = 81.0 ± 14.0 kg, squat 1RM = 108.1 ± 13.7 kg, training history = 0.7 ± 1.7 yrs) volunteered for this study. Some untrained subjects had prior RE experience but were classified as untrained due to a lack of current training. Prior to the RE bout, subjects came in for a 1RM strength test for the barbell back squat and leg extension according to NSCA guidelines (Baechle and Earle 2008). Subjects returned 4-7 days later euhydrated and at least 6 hours fasted, between 10am-2pm, and completed a RE bout consisting of 6 sets of 10 repetitions of barbell back squats at 75% 1RM with 1.5 min rest between sets, immediately followed by 4 sets of 10 repetitions of leg extensions at 75% 1RM with 1.5 min rest between sets. Blood samples were collected via venipuncture from an antecubital vein before the RE bout (PRE) and 5 min (5+), 15 min (15+), and 45 min (45+) post exercise. Circulating serum concentrations of cortisol were analyzed via ELISA. Statistical analyses were completed using 2-way repeated measures ANOVAs. RESULTS: In the RT group, there were significant increases (p< 0.05) from PRE to 5+ and PRE to 15+ post RE bout (See table 1). In the UT group, there were significant increases (p< 0.05) at 5+, 15+, and 45+ post RE bout (See table 1). CONCLUSIONS: While both RT and UT groups had significant increases in serum cortisol levels following a lower body RE bout, the UT group stayed elevated longer. PRACTICAL APPLICATION: Resistance trained and untrained individuals have similar initial responses in cortisol to RE; however, RT individuals are able to return to baseline quicker, indicating a faster recovery. For strength and conditioning professionals, it is important to understand there are differences in the physiological responses of individuals with different training statuses, thus affecting how they adapt and recover.


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