Testosterone:Cortisol - the all important ratio

Fitness

Medichecks doctor Daniel Grant explains more about the Testosterone:Cortisol ratio which has been added to many of our sports profiles.

27/11/2018


Daniel Grant
MBBS BSc

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What is the Testosterone:Cortisol ratio?

The Testosterone:Cortisol (T:C) ratio is a good measure of whether athletes are recovering from their training. On a simplistic level testosterone is an anabolic hormone – it helps to build muscle, produce red blood cells and increase aerobic metabolism in muscles. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone – it works antagonistically with testosterone, inhibiting protein synthesis and blocking anabolic signalling. 

When chronically elevated, cortisol actively breaks muscle down and makes you more prone to infection. For both endurance and strength trainer athletes the T:C ratio provides a useful marker of possible overreaching and overtraining syndromes, which is where the body does not sufficiently recover after exercise, which in turn then lead to a decline in performance, physiological stress and emotional change.

The T:C ratio is more sensitive to the stresses of training than either measure alone. As an absolute number, the ratio is of limited use, but over time it can be trended to see how well you are recovering and indeed the true value of the T:C ratio is seen when these trends start to appear. A 30% decrease in T:C ratio has been suggested as an indicator of insufficient recovery and can point towards overtraining.  If this is the case it is extremely important to reflect on your training routine and make sure you recover sufficiently to prevent long-term ill-health. This test is most useful for the male athlete. 

Medicheck your performance 

We aim to make blood tests, previously only available to elite athletes, accessible to anyone who wants to improve their performance. To do so, we are constantly reviewing our range of sports tests to see how we can improve what we offer, to provide the best range of tests for athletes of every level and discipline to optimise their performance and stay healthy. 

A testosterone/cortisol (T:C) ratio has been added to many of our sports profiles including the Endurance Fit, Advanced Fit and Sports Hormone Check UltraVit to help assess whether the body is recovering well after intense training. For both endurance and strength training athletes, the T:C ratio provides a useful marker of possible overreaching and overtraining syndromes - where the body does not sufficiently recover after exercise. 


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