The effect of salivary steroid hormone concentrations on athletic performance

  • Alanna Caroline Martin

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    High performance sport aims to optimise the physiology of athletes in order to maximise performance. As important regulators of physical processes steroid hormones have the potential to affect physical performance. Although research supports the possibility of short-term and long-term performance effects for testosterone, cortisol, estradiol and progesterone, many unanswered questions remain. The major aim of this thesis was to determine if there is a relationship between steroid hormone concentrations and physical performance in adolescent male and female sub-elite and elite athletes.

    Experiment one was undertaken to determine if salivary testosterone, cortisol, estradiol and progesterone and their ratios were associated with speed, agility, aerobic endurance and anaerobic capacity and power in a mixed group of team-sport athletes (Australian Football, basketball, hockey and netball). Data was split according to gender and oral contraceptive use. To identify possible sport-specific relationships between steroid hormone concentrations and motor fitness constructs, the data from experiment one was split into the specific sports of Australian Football, basketball, hockey and netball, and analysed further in experiments two to five. Experiment six provided information on the hormone-performance associations and possible predictors of performance for cycling using a new data set. In experiments two to six hormone-performance associations were identified for each of the hormones and ratios, and performance tests. These associations were specific to gender, oral contraceptive use and sporting group. A key finding of the work contained in this thesis was the identification of relationships between estradiol and progesterone levels and their ratios to physical performance in both sexes.

    This work provides new insight into the effects of testosterone, cortisol, estradiol and progesterone on athletic performance. Identification of hormone predictors of physical performance opens up the possibility of using hormone levels and ratios in the field of talent identification. Additionally the identification of hormonal predictors of performance may provide valuable information for coaches in the lead up to competition. Hormone monitoring will enable coaches to alter training and pre-competition strategies such as nutrition and warmup to facilitate a more desirable hormone profile.
    Date of AwardMar 2017
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorIan Heazlewood (Supervisor)

    Cite this