Journal of Endocrinological Investigation

, Volume 37, Issue 11, pp 1065–1072 | Cite as

Trained and untrained males show reliable salivary testosterone responses to a physical stimulus, but not a psychological stimulus

  • B. T. CrewtherEmail author
  • L. P. Kilduff
  • C. J. Cook
Original Article



The testosterone (T) responses to a physical stimulus are thought to be more stable and reproducible compared to a psychological stimulus.


This study compared the salivary T (Sal-T) responses to both stimuli in four groups of men: professional rugby players (n = 17), recreational rugby players (n = 10), a mixed athlete group (n = 14) and untrained controls (n = 12).


Each group completed three treatments: (1) watching a video with aggressive rugby footage, (2) performing a short bout of sprint exercise and (3) a control session. Saliva samples were taken before and 15 min after each treatment.


The sprint exercise changes in Sal-T levels were similar in the elite rugby (17.1 ± 11.1 %), recreational rugby (11.9 ± 15.9 %), mixed athlete (27.6 ± 32.0 %) and control groups (25.3 ± 23.6 %). In response to the video, Sal-T increased in the elite rugby (6.9 ± 6.4 %) and untrained groups (11.9 ± 13.5 %), but decreased in the recreational rugby players (−7.5 ± 11.0 %). The individual Sal-T responses to the sprints were also correlated (r = 0.69 to 0.82) with other treatment responses.


Sprint exercise had a more consistent effect on Sal-T than a video with aggressive content and thus, could provide a reliable stimulus for increasing T availability in men with different training backgrounds. Individual Sal-T reactivity also appears to be somewhat stable across different treatments. These data provide further understanding around the induction, moderation and interpretation of T physiology.


Behaviour Athletes Neuroendocrine Hormones Saliva Video 



We thank the participants, researchers and trainers who contributed to this study. This project was supported by the Elite Sport Performance Research in Training with Pervasive Sensing Programme [EP/H009744/1], funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and the UK Sports Council.

Conflict of interest

The authors declared no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Italian Society of Endocrinology (SIE) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. T. Crewther
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • L. P. Kilduff
    • 2
  • C. J. Cook
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Hamlyn Centre for Robotic SurgeryImperial College South Kensington CampusLondonUK
  2. 2.A-STEM, College of EngineeringSwansea UniversitySwanseaUK
  3. 3.School of Sport Health and Exercise Science Bangor UniversityBangorUK

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