The impact of chronic endurance and resistance training upon the right ventricular phenotype in male athletes

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015 Aug;115(8):1673-82. doi: 10.1007/s00421-015-3147-3. Epub 2015 Mar 17.


Objectives: The traditional view of differential left ventricular adaptation to training type has been questioned. Right ventricular (RV) data in athletes are emerging but whether training type mediates this is not clear. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the RV phenotype in endurance- vs. resistance-trained male athletes. Secondary aims included comparison of RV function in all groups using myocardial speckle tracking, and the impact of allometric scaling on RV data interpretation.

Methods: A prospective cross-sectional design assessed RV structure and function in 19 endurance-trained (ET), 21 resistance-trained (RT) and 21 sedentary control subjects (CT). Standard 2D tissue Doppler imaging and speckle tracking echocardiography assessed RV structure and function. Indexing of RV structural parameters to body surface area (BSA) was undertaken using allometric scaling.

Results: A higher absolute RV diastolic area was observed in ET (mean ± SD: 27 ± 4 cm(2)) compared to CT (22 ± 4 cm(2); P < 0.05) that was maintained after scaling. Whilst absolute RV longitudinal dimension was greater in ET (88 ± 9 mm) than CT (81 ± 10 mm; P < 0.05), this difference was removed after scaling. Wall thickness was not different between ET and RT and there were no between group differences in global or regional RV function.

Conclusion: We present some evidence of RV adaptation to chronic ET in male athletes but limited structural characteristics of an athletic heart were observed in RT. Global and regional RV functions were comparable between groups. Allometric scaling altered data interpretation in some variables.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia / diagnostic imaging
  • Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia / physiopathology
  • Athletic Performance / physiology
  • Body Surface Area
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Echocardiography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Education and Training / methods*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Ventricular Function, Right / physiology*