Purpose: This study investigated the effects of ethanol consumption on recovery from traditional resistance exercise in recreationally trained individuals.
Methods: Nine recreationally trained volunteers (eight males and one female, 26 ± 4 yr, 81 ± 4 kg) conducted four resistance exercise sessions and consumed a low (0.6 (females) and 0.7 (males) g·kg−1 body mass) or a high dose (1.2 or 1.4 g·kg−1 body mass) of ethanol 1–2.5 h after exercise on two occasions. The first session was for familiarization with the tests and exercises and was performed without ethanol consumption. As a control trial, alcohol-free drinks were consumed after the exercise session. The sequence of trials, with low and high ethanol doses and alcohol-free drinks (control), was randomized. Maximal voluntary contractions (MVC) (knee extension), electrically stimulated contractions (knee extension), squat jumps, and hand grip strength were assessed 10–15 min and 12 and 24 h after the ethanol/placebo drinks. In addition to a baseline sample, blood was collected 1, 12, and 24 h after the ethanol/placebo drinks. The exercise session comprised 4 × 8 repetition maximum of squats, leg presses, and knee extensions.
Results: MVC were reduced by 13%–15% immediately after the exercise sessions (P < 0.01). MVC, electrically stimulated force, and squat jump performance were recovered 24 h after ethanol drinks. MVC was not fully recovered at 24 h in the control trial. Compared with those in the control, cortisol increased and the free testosterone/cortisol ratio were reduced after the high ethanol dose (P < 0.01).
Conclusions: Neither a low nor a high dose of ethanol adversely affected recovery of muscle function after resistance exercise in recreationally strength-trained individuals. However, the increased cortisol levels and reduced testosterone/cortisol ratio after the high ethanol dose could translate into long-term negative effects.