For a long time, I’d never really considered the hormonal aspects of training as being very important. It seems like a lot of wanking over what is, at best, a transient hormonal spike in response to a stimulus (in this case, exercise).
We’re talking brief here, like 45-60 minutes of increased testosterone which is, at best, a slight elevation off baseline. Steroid cycles have to magnify this level many times over to see drastic results.
However, there has been some correlation between testosterone and cortisol levels with the condition of the athlete. The first group I’m aware of that really investigated it were Lon Kilgore and Glenn Pendlay, who determined that the ratio of testosterone to cortisol was an accurate predictor of the state of the athlete — a marker of overtraining and overreaching, in other words.
Pendlay, G. and L. Kilgore (2001). Hormonal fluctuation: A new method for the programming of training. Weightlifting USA 19(2): 15.
Other (apparently unpublished) thesis research from Glenn Pendlay and Michael Hartmann has more or less confirmed that the test:cortisol ratio is depressed during hard training, but when unloading occurs it will sharply increase above baseline after adequate rest has occurred.
It seems like there’s definitely a correlation between testosterone levels and the athlete’s condition, even if it’s not responsible.
Is there anything more to it? There just might be.