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Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2013 Feb;38(2):177-81. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2012-0040. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

Influence of upper-body exercise order on hormonal responses in trained men.

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School of Physical Education and Sports, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


The aim of this study was to examine acute hormonal responses after different sequences of an upper-body resistance-exercise session. Twenty men completed 2 sessions (3 sets; 70% 1-repetition maximum; 2 min passive rest between sets) of the same exercises in opposite sequences (larger to smaller vs. smaller to larger muscle-group exercises). Total testosterone (TT), free testosterone (FT), testosterone/cortisol (T/C) ratio, sex-hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), growth hormone (GH), and cortisol (C) concentrations were measured before and immediately after each sequence. The results indicate that the GH concentration increased after both sessions, but the increase was significantly greater (p < 0.05) after the sequence in which larger muscle-group exercises were performed prior to the smaller muscle-group exercises. No differences were observed between sessions for TT, FT, SHBG, C, or the T/C ratio at baseline or immediately after resistance exercise. These results indicate that performing larger muscle-group exercises first in an upper-body resistance-exercise session leads to a significantly greater GH response. This may have been due to the significantly greater exercise volume accomplished. In summary, the findings of this investigation support the common prescriptive recommendation to perform larger-muscle group exercises first during a resistance-exercise session.

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