In a recent report, we characterized the awakening responses and daily profiles of the catabolic stress hormone cortisol in elite military men (N = 58, mean ± SE age 33.6 ± 1.0 years, body mass index 27.5 ± 0.3 kg/m2, years of military service 12.1 ± 0.9 years). Anabolic hormones follow a similar daily pattern, are crucial mediators of resistance training outcomes, and may counteract the catabolic effects of cortisol.
PURPOSE: This companion report is the first to characterize the daily profiles of the anabolic hormones dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and testosterone in this population.
METHODS: One salivary sample was taken 5 times per day for 2 days, for a total of 10 samples. The samples were self-collected by subjects in a free-living setting with oral swabs. Samples were assayed in duplicate. Sampling time compliance was evaluated with actigraphy.
RESULTS: As a group, these men displayed normal, uncompromised anabolic hormone profiles comparable to that of young, athletic populations. Consistent with the cortisol findings from our prior report, summary parameters of magnitude (hormone output) within the first hour after awakening displayed superior stability versus summary parameters of pattern for both DHEA (r value: 0.77-0.82) and testosterone (r value: 0.61-0.68). Summary parameters of evening function were stable for both hormones (both p < 0.001), while the absolute decrease in testosterone across the day was a stable proxy of diurnal function (p < 0.001). Removal of noncompliant subjects did not appreciably affect concentration estimates or either hormone at any time point, nor did it alter the repeatability of any summary parameter.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite continuous, intense stress exposure, these men possess anabolic hormone profiles resembling young, resistance-trained populations. These findings enable accurate estimations of anabolic balance and the resultant effects upon health and human performance in this highly resilient yet chronically stressed population.