Effects of resistance and endurance training in persons with paraplegia

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 May;41(5):992-7. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318191757f.


Introduction: The specific effects of resistance and endurance training on upper extremity work capacity, muscular strength, and anaerobic power in chronic survivors of paraplegia have not been previously determined.

Purpose: This study compared the effects of 12 wk of endurance training (ET) with 12 wk of resistance training (RT) on VO(2peak), upper extremity strength, and power output in persons with chronic paraplegia.

Methods: Eighteen subjects with neurologically complete paraplegia, T6-T10, participated in three weekly exercise sessions during a 12-wk training period. Subjects were matched into pairs (body mass and gender) and were randomly assigned to ET or RT. The ET group performed 30 min of arm cranking at 70%-85% of HR(peak). The RT group performed three sets of 10 repetitions at six exercise stations with an intensity of ranging from 60% to 70% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM). Values of upper extremity strength (1RM) were established using the Mayhew regression equation. VO(2peak) was determined during arm ergometry testing using open circuit spirometry. Arm Wingate anaerobic testing (WAnT) was used to determine subjects' peak and mean anaerobic power output.

Results: VO(2peak) values were significantly greater after RT (15.1%) and ET (11.8%). Muscular strength significantly increased for all exercise maneuvers in the RT group (P values < 0.01) with no changes detected in the ET group. Mean WAnT power increased in the RT and ET groups by 8% and 5%, respectively. The RT group displayed significantly greater gains in peak WAnT power (P < 0.001) than ET, 15.6% and 2.6%, respectively.

Conclusion: Persons with paraplegia can significantly improve their upper extremity work capacity, muscular strength, and power by participating in RT.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Paraplegia / physiopathology*
  • Physical Exertion / physiology*
  • Resistance Training*
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Upper Extremity / physiology
  • Young Adult