Low load, high repetition resistance training program increases bone mineral density in untrained adults

J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2017 Jan-Feb;57(1-2):70-76. doi: 10.23736/S0022-4707.16.05697-8. Epub 2015 Sep 11.


Background: High load, low repetition resistance training increases BMD in untrained adults; however, many older and untrained adults cannot maintain this type of strenuous program. Our goal was to evaluate whether a low load, high repetition resistance training program would increase BMD in untrained adults.

Methods: Twenty sedentary, but otherwise healthy, adults (6 men and 14 women, age 28-63 yrs) completed a 27-week group exercise program. The participants were randomly assigned to one of two strength groups: one group completed full body, low load, high repetition weight training classes (S-WEIGHT), while the other group completed core focused fusion classes (S-CORE). Both groups also completed indoor cycling classes for cardiovascular conditioning. After a 3-week familiarization period, all participants completed a 12-week block of 5 fitness classes per week (3 cycling + 2 strength) and concluded with another 12-week block of 6 classes per week (3 cycling + 3 strength). We completed iDXA scans at baseline (week 3) and final (week 28).

Results: Compared to baseline, BMD significantly increased for S-WEIGHT in the arms (+4%, P<0.001), legs (+8%, P<0.01), pelvis (+6%, P<0.01) and lumbar spine (+4%, P<0.05), whereas BMD did not significantly change for S-CORE at any site.

Conclusions: These results suggest that a low load, high repetition resistance training program may be an effective method to improve bone mass in adults.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adult
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle Strength Dynamometer
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Sedentary Behavior