Int J Sports Med 1998; 19(8): 526-531
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-971955
Physiology and Biochemistry

© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Muscle Strength and Hormonal Levels in Adolescents: Gender Related Differences

E. Ramos1 , W. R. Frontera2 , A. Llopart3 , D. Feliciano3
  • 1Center for Sports Health and Exercise Science. Department of Physical Medicine, Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine, University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • 2Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Harvard Medical School and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston, MA, USA
  • 3Department of Biological Science, Faculty of General Studies, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, Puerto Rico
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
09 March 2007 (online)

The purpose of the present investigation was to study muscle strength in adolescents and its relationship to serum levels of testosterone and growth hormone in both genders. Thirty active adolescents (15 boys; age range 11 - 12 y/o) participated in the first study. Isokinetic muscle strength of the dominant knee extensors (KE) was determined at 0, 12, 20, 30, 120, 180 and 240 deg/sec using a Cybex 340 dynamometer. The assessment of pubertal status was accomplished using the criteria of Tanner. Serum levels of total testosterone (T) and growth hormone (GH) were determined using radioimmunoassay techniques. Boys had higher (p < 0.001) T levels but no differences in muscle strength were detected between genders. Fifty-seven additional subjects representing three age groups (11 - 12 y/o, n = 18; 13 - 14, n = 21; 17 - 18, n = 18) participated in the second study. A significant increase in peak torque (absolute and corrected for body weight) with age was observed in both genders. There were no significant gender differences in strength for the two youngest age groups, but boys were stronger than girls in the oldest age group (group 3). Testosterone and GH levels increased with age in boys but not in girls. Gender related differences in T were found in groups 2 and 3. A positive correlation (r = 0,64 boys; r = 0.46 girls) between testosterone levels and absolute muscle strength was seen in both genders. Our results suggest that increases in anabolic hormones precede muscle strength gains in adolescent males. In addition, gender related differences in muscle strength during adolescents cannot be explained solely on the basis of difference in body size or T levels.