The effect of progressive resistance training on aerobic fitness and strength in adults with coronary heart disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2017 Aug;24(12):1242-1259. doi: 10.1177/2047487317713329. Epub 2017 Jun 5.


Design We aimed to evaluate the effect of progressive resistance training on cardiorespiratory fitness and muscular strength in coronary heart disease, when compared to control or aerobic training, and when combined with aerobic training. Secondary aims were to evaluate the safety and efficacy of progressive resistance training on other physiological and clinical outcomes. Methods and results Electronic databases were searched from inception until July 2016. Designs included progressive resistance training vs control, progressive resistance training vs aerobic training, and combined training vs aerobic training. From 268,778 titles, 34 studies were included (1940 participants; 71.9% male; age 60 ± 7 years). Progressive resistance training was more effective than control for lower (standardized mean difference 0.57, 95% confidence interval (0.17-0.96)) and upper (1.43 (0.73-2.13)) body strength. Aerobic fitness improved similarly after progressive resistance training (16.9%) or aerobic training (21.0%); (standardized mean difference -0.13, 95% confidence interval (-0.35-0.08)). Combined training was more effective than aerobic training for aerobic fitness (0.21 (0.09-0.34), lower (0.62 (0.32-0.92)) and upper (0.51 (0.27-0.74)) body strength. Twenty studies reported adverse event information, with five reporting 64 cardiovascular complications, 63 during aerobic training. Conclusion Isolated progressive resistance training resulted in an increase in lower and upper body strength, and improved aerobic fitness to a similar degree as aerobic training in coronary heart disease cohorts. Importantly, when progressive resistance training was added to aerobic training, effects on both fitness and strength were enhanced compared to aerobic training alone. Reporting of adverse events was poor, and clinical gaps were identified for women, older adults, high intensity progressive resistance training and long-term outcomes, warranting future trials to confirm safety and effectiveness.

Keywords: Cardiac rehabilitation; exercise; weightlifting.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiorespiratory Fitness / physiology*
  • Coronary Disease / physiopathology
  • Coronary Disease / rehabilitation*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Strength
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome