Recovery: The Testosterone to Cortisol Ratio
By Dan Garner
The testosterone to cortisol (T/C) ratio is a measure that is often used in sports science and exercise physiology to evaluate an individual's anabolic-catabolic balance, stress tolerance, and current state of recovery.
Testosterone is an anabolic hormone, meaning it promotes muscle growth and repair, while cortisol is a catabolic hormone, which can break down muscle tissue and inhibit growth. Neither is "good" or "bad", they just represent the given state of one's physiology.
Through this lens of function, the T/C ratio is seen as a reflection of the balance between anabolic and catabolic processes in the body.
A higher T/C ratio indicates a more anabolic state, which could be beneficial for muscle growth, performance, and recovery.
A lower T/C ratio might suggest a more catabolic state, potentially resulting from poor nutrition, overtraining, lack of sleep, or high stress.
Despite how confidently coaches throw around the knowledge of the T/C, there isn't a universally agreed-upon optimal ratio as it can vary significantly between individuals and depend on factors such as age, gender, training status, and intention/expectations of the current training phase.
A general rule is that a T/C ratio above 0.8-1.0 is considered favorable for promoting an anabolic state, while a ratio below this range indicates a higher risk of insufficient recovery.
This is simply calculated by dividing the testosterone level by the cortisol level (make sure they are the same units) and the results of the calculation can offer you some immediate feedback for necessary changes to your current routine.