The main result of the present study is to demonstrate that the most intense protocol (i.e., W19) provoked greater responsiveness in the free salivary testosterone in both the investigated groups. Furthermore, in the W19 protocol, the free salivary testosterone and cortisol were higher in the young than in the elderly subjects, although no significant modifications were observed in the cortisol in either group after this protocol.
The absence of differences in magnitude of the response seen in both types of training was possibly caused by the great variability of the samples. Nonetheless, in the present study, only the most intense protocol, performed at the maximum speed of each individual, and thus generating the greatest force possible in the water, produced significant increases in the testosterone levels of both groups. This may have occurred because of the higher anaerobic component of the W19 protocol (28). A high correlation has been shown between lactate and the testosterone response during anaerobic exercise. Moreover, during in vitro experiments, the infusion of lactate into rat testicles generated a dose-dependent increase in testosterone, indicating that the accumulation of lactate is a powerful action mechanism for the increase of testosterone during exercise (28). In addition, the higher level of sympathetic activity resulting from the higher-intensity may have played a part in stimulating the testosterone (14).
Although there are few studies that compare the increase in strength resulting from water-based resistance training with the adaptations seen in conventional, water-based aerobic-intensity training, studies investigating water-based training specifically for strength found a higher percentage increase in strength than studies that investigated water-based exercise in which the movements were performed at lower execution speeds (35,39). The results of the present study suggest that, in addition to the higher specific muscle strength resulting from higher speeds, the response of the testosterone may be a physiologic factor mediating increments in muscular strength, because, in addition to the known role of testosterone in muscular metabolism as a stimulant of muscular protein synthesis and in the synthesis of neurotransmitters (23), some studies have shown a high correlation between the increase in muscular strength and the testosterone response in an acute strength training session (2,9).
In conclusion, in the present study, it was seen that a high-intensity water-based resistance training session is a greater stimulus for an increase in salivary testosterone than conventional water-based aerobic training in young and elderly men. In addition to the greater specific tension suggested in the W19 protocol, the higher testosterone response could be a greater stimulus for the increase in muscle strength seen with this training model. However, care should be taken when interpreting these results because the investigation was limited to the pattern of hormonal response to water-based exercises in the oral cavity of the subjects included in the groups.
The present results demonstrate that, if the main purpose of a training session is to stimulate testosterone, a water-based resistance exercise protocol is more suitable than a water-based aerobic exercise, including elderly subjects. On the basis of the relationship between the acute testosterone response to resistance exercise and the increase in the muscular strength caused by resistance training, it is important to prescribe training sessions that are sufficiently intense to optimize the stimulus to anabolic hormones, especially to increase strength and muscle mass in elderly subjects.
The authors especially thank Mr. Hugo Perez and the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul Foundation for their support of this project. They also express their gratitude to all the subjects who participated in this research and made this project possible.
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