Anabolic Hormone Profiles in Elite Military Men

Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert. Sport & Exercise Nutrition. British Army Physical Training Instructor.  


Anabolic hormone profiles in elite special forces soldiers exhibit distinct age trajectories and are important determinants of stress and fatigue.

Monitoring these hormone profiles routinely may help optimize the health of this chronically stressed population.

These hormonal profiles have many useful applications in health care, including chronic fatigue and stress management.

Anabolic environment promotes protein synthesis and muscle hypertrophy

Several studies have shown that resistance exercise increases the anabolic responsiveness of muscle to whey protein.

Moreover, a group of non-essential amino acids, are critical for muscle protein synthesis (MPS) stimulation.

Volpi and Borsheim were among the first to demonstrate the need for nonessential amino acids in order to stimulate MPS, and their studies documented a dose-response relationship.

Other hormones, such as GH, insulin, and growth hormone, may also influence training adaptations.

Changes in these hormones may be a sign of overtraining, and prolonged reductions in them have been linked to decreased performance and increased proteolysis.

The sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) level is an indicator of training status and performance.

Protein synthesis and muscle hypertrophy are important for metabolic health, and skeletal muscle mass is a major contributor to resting energy expenditure.

It also supports the production of contractile force and is the site of postprandial glucose disposal.

Therefore, improving the adaptive response of skeletal muscle to exercise is a major goal for the athletic community.

The precise timing of protein intake is essential in maximizing anabolic effects. The optimal time to consume protein is several hours before or after resistance exercise.

If a person is already eating enough protein, this timing may be less important. However, when a person is performing a whole-body resistance exercise, a higher protein intake may be required.

A high-protein diet can improve muscle hypertrophy.

During an energy-restricted state, the MPS response was reduced by 19%. This was likely due to reduced intramuscular anabolic signaling.

Moreover, MPS is a highly energy-demanding process. Thus, when food is limited, the body conserves energy through MPS.

It is important to understand the limitations of muscle protein synthesis and how much of each can be used.

This can help athletes, coaches, and clinicians maximize the benefits of muscle hypertrophy. 

Testosterone/cortisol ratio is variable currently used in the evaluation of organism response to acute and chronic physical stressors

Testosterone/cortisol is a hormone that is involved in the process of evaluating the balance between anabolic and catabolic processes in the body.

Testosterone promotes anabolic responses, whereas cortisol promotes catabolic responses.

This ratio is often used as a biomarker for overtraining syndromes, which are associated with physiological and psychological changes.

These syndromes are often accompanied by chronic stress and can lead to a decline in performance.

In recent years, researchers have investigated how these hormones affect military personnel and have found that testosterone and cortisol levels are negatively related to both acute and chronic physical stressors.

Testosterone levels may be reduced by stress, but this change in testosterone levels is temporary.

Researchers have observed that a positive testosterone/cortisol ratio correlates with task cohesion in special forces.

In addition, testosterone and cortisol levels are positively related to task cohesion and hippocampus.

However, this relationship is not entirely clear. There are more studies needed to understand how these hormones work together in elite military men.

Various studies have also reported decreased levels of testosterone after exercise.

However, it appears that this divergent relationship only occurs during relative hypercortisolism. The decrease in testosterone is due to a cyclical response of the pituitary-testicular system.

The testosterone/cortisol ratio has also been correlated with muscle strength. This relationship indicates that high levels of testosterone are not necessarily associated with muscle gains.

This relationship suggests that a rise in testosterone after strength training may simply be a fleeting physical stress response.

In contrast, a low ratio of Testosterone/cortisol can be a sign of normal stress or harmful stress.

This ratio can be a useful marker of the response of the organism to exercise and other physical stressors.

Cortisol, DHEA, and DHEA levels were negatively correlated with attitude, task cohesion, and attitude towards military service.

These variables are used to develop a statistical model to determine the effects of physical and social stressors on the organism.

The data were analysed with IBM SPSS Statistics 27v software. To determine whether the data were normally distributed, the Shapiro-Wilk test was used.

Then, quantitative variables were presented as mean + standard deviation (SD) or median (IQR) and categorical variables as absolute and relative frequencies (AF). The level of statistical significance was set at 0.05 in two-tailed testing.

The current Testosterone/cortisol (TCR) ratio is a measure of the organism's response to acute and chronic physical stressors.

Researchers have been using this ratio to assess the adaptation of elite military men to physical and psychological stressors.

The current study included twenty-three elite military men who were exposed to long-term and chronic physical stress.

The study was approved by the Vilnius Regional Biomedical Research Ethics Committee. All participants provided informed written consent.

There was no compensation provided for participating in the study, and all participants were informed that they could withdraw at any time.

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Correlations between muscle mass and pre-selection exercise fat mass and muscle mass

Correlations between pre-selective exercise fat mass and muscle mass in male special forces was carried out with data from 5,000 officers over 29 years.

These data confirmed a consistent increase in body mass, with a significant increase in lean mass and lower body fat.

The results were consistent even when controlling for lifestyle and nutritional advantages.

The military sets a constant standard for fat mass and muscle mass, based on the average fat mass of young, physically fit males and females.

This allows for normal distribution around the average and assessment errors. It also allows for differences in the number of soldiers with different fat levels, which is important for the accuracy of results.

The results of the study suggest that lower body fat percentage is associated with better performance on tests like the SFAS, run, and obstacle course.

In addition, higher muscle mass and lower fat mass are associated with better performance in fitness tests, such as the APFT. In addition, higher lean mass was associated with better performance on the APFT and the loaded road march.

These findings may have implications for the military. In the US, body composition is a predictor of performance on multiple tasks and fitness tests.

Specifically, soldiers competing for special forces training must demonstrate their physical fitness and operational competence in a variety of events.

Adrenal and Gonadal Systems in Special Forces

We found that the levels of adrenal and gonadal hormones were positively correlated and complemented each other.

These results support a cooperative adrenal-gonad system that may be adaptive in stressful situations and competition.

Top-down coactivation of these systems might enhance neuronal survival and anabolic balance.

Anabolic and catabolic processes are positively coupled

The testosterone and cortisol ratio is a useful marker for anabolic-catabolic balance.

It has also been associated with sensitivity to training stress, and prolonged decreases in the T:C ratio have been associated with detriment to performance and increased proteolysis and protein breakdown.

In particular, studies have suggested that a drop in T:C ratios of 30% or more indicates insufficient recovery.

Amenorrheic women have a greater risk of bone fracture than healthy women. Their bone fracture risk is nine times higher.

Moreover, amenorrheic women have a higher risk of bone fracture than healthy female athletes. Anabolic steroids can enhance muscle strength and improve libido.

Dietary protein and vitamin levels on depression of gonadal development

Researchers have studied the impact of dietary protein and vitamin levels on the development of male gonadals.

The researchers kept male rats in conditions of constant darkness and normal lighting and fed them with a low-protein diet containing 9% casein or a high-protein diet containing 18% casein.

The rats were also fed the Harper mineral mixture and vitamins, including Panvitan.

After four weeks, serum testosterone and other hormone contents were measured. The constant-dark group had less gonadal weight than the other two groups.

Effects of glucocorticoids on the adrenal and gonadal systems

In this study, we investigated the effects of glucocorticoids on the gonadal and adrenal systems of elite military men.

We found that chronic glucocorticoid use downregulated the alpha isoform of the glucocorticoid receptor in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

The alpha isoform of glucocorticoid receptor is important for the regulation of the adrenal system.

Glucocorticoids have direct inhibitory effects on the testes. In mice, high doses of glucocorticoids reduced testosterone production and decreased LH receptors in testes. A similar relationship was found in humans by Cumming et al.

Adrenal glands secrete hormones such as corticosteroids and thyroid hormones.

These hormones have multiple effects on the body, including affecting the adrenal and gonadal systems, the immune system, and metabolic function.

Effects of anticancer therapies on the adrenal and gonadal systems

A new study has found that the adrenal and gonadal systems are positively coupled, indicating a cooperative relationship between the two systems.

This finding supports the emerging paradigm of cooperative adrenal-gonad systems that may be adaptive in some contexts, including stress and competition.

Moreover, this type of coactivation might be beneficial for enhancing anabolic balance and neuronal survival.

In mice, a disruption of this network causes sex reversal. In humans, disrupting these networks can reversibly alter the process of sexual development.

Two important transcription factors are Sry and Sox9. When these two proteins are altered, the result is sex reversal.


Anabolic hormone profiles in elite military men exhibit unique age trajectories. These profiles are highly informative in predicting stress and fatigue in these men.

Regular monitoring of anabolic hormone levels can help optimize health in these chronically stressed populations.

A recent study has shown that men who produce high levels of anabolic hormones are less prone to frailty, a gradual decline in energy and physical function.

Vasper and his team used a clinically-based method to measure the anabolic hormone levels in elite military men.

They also studied ParaRescuemen, who specialize in remote and war-zone medical rescues. These men typically exhibit elevated cortisol levels, performance problems, and sleep disturbance.

In the United States, anabolic steroids are still prescribed by medical doctors. However, their use for injury recovery is a taboo topic among most doctors.

In the United Kingdom, most sports medicine physicians discourage anabolic steroid use. Furthermore, anabolic steroids are classified as Schedule 4 drugs (part 1 and part two).

The effects of military field exercises on the recovery process are also poorly understood.

However, it is vital to understand how the body recovers after a rigorous field exercise. Specifically, the time between rigorous training and recovery exercises is crucial to maintaining high physical performance levels.

Furthermore, a prolonged recovery time can reduce the risk of injuries.

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