Resistance Exercise Impacts Lean Muscle Mass in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016 Apr;48(4):589-98. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000822.


Purpose: This study investigated the effects of progressive resistance training (PRT) on lean muscle mass (LMM) in women with or without polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and its effects on metabolic factors and concentrations of related steroid hormones.

Design: This was a nonrandomized, therapeutic, open, single-arm study.

Participants: All in all, 45 sedentary women with PCOS and 52 without (non-PCOS), 18-37 yr of age, with body mass indexes (BMI) of 18-39.9 kg·m(-2) of all races and social status, performed PRT three times a week for 4 months. Before and after PRT, the concentrations of hormones and metabolic factors and waist circumference were measured. LMM and total body fat percentage were determined using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Clinical characteristics, LMM, and fasting glucose were adjusted for confounding covariables and compared using general linear mixed models. Each patient's menstrual history was taken before study enrollment and after PRT.

Results: PRT resulted in reduced plasma testosterone and fasting glucose levels. After PRT, the androstenedione concentration increased and the sex hormone-binding globulin concentration decreased in women with PCOS. The waist circumference was reduced (P < 0.01) and the muscle mass index, lean mass (LM)/height2, increased in women with PCOS (P = 0.04). Women with PCOS showed increased muscle mass indexes of appendicular LM/height2 (P = 0.03) and LM/height2 (P < 0.01) compared with the baseline. Total LM and trunk LM were elevated in women with PCOS (P = 0.01) at the baseline and after PRT.

Conclusion: To our knowledge, this is the first report to show that resistance exercise alone can improve hyperandrogenism, reproductive function, and body composition by decreasing visceral fat and increasing LMM, but it has no metabolic impact on women with PCOS.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adiposity
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Androstenedione / blood
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / therapy*
  • Resistance Training*
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin / analysis
  • Testosterone / blood
  • Waist Circumference
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin
  • Testosterone
  • Androstenedione