Performance and physiologic adaptations to resistance training

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2002 Nov;81(11 Suppl):S3-16. doi: 10.1097/00002060-200211001-00003.


Weight lifting, or resistance training, is a potent stimulus to the neuromuscular system. Depending on the specific program design, resistance training can enhance strength, power, or local muscular endurance. These improvements in performance are directly related to the physiologic adaptations elicited through prolonged resistance training. Optimal resistance training programs are individualized to meet specific training goals. When trained properly (i.e., similar intensity and volume), these functional and physiologic adaptations are similarly impressive among women and the aged as they are among young men. Yet, in contrast to relative measurements, sex and age differences exist in the absolute magnitude of adaptation. Of equal importance, perhaps most notably among the elderly, are the important health benefits that may also be derived from resistance training. For example, bone density, insulin sensitivity, and co-morbidities associated with obesity can be effectively managed with resistance exercise when it is conducted on a regular basis. The extent of the functional and health benefits to be accrued from resistance training depend on factors such as initial performance and health status, along with the specification of program design variables such as frequency, duration, intensity, volume, and rest intervals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Aging / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Human Growth Hormone / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / therapy
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Testosterone / metabolism
  • Weight Lifting*


  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Testosterone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I