Testosterone : Cortisol
The Testosterone/Cortisol (T:C) ratio is a marker which shows promise in assessing whether athletes are recovering well after intense training. Testosterone is an anabolic hormone which helps to build muscle, produce red blood cells and increase aerobic metabolism in muscles. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone working antagonistically with testosterone, inhibiting protein synthesis and blocking anabolic signalling. The T:C ratio is more sensitive to the stresses of training than either measure alone. Over time it can be trended to see how well you are recovering.
What might a low result mean?
A 30% decrease in T:C ratio has been suggested as an indicator for 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.
What might a high result mean?
Chronically elevated cortisol levels in the body, breaks down muscle and weakens the immune system. For both endurance and strength training 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. Poor recovery can lead to a decline in performance, physiological stress and low mood.