Effects of unilateral strength training and detraining on bone mineral mass and estimated mechanical characteristics of the upper limb bones in young women

J Bone Miner Res. 1996 Apr;11(4):490-501. doi: 10.1002/jbmr.5650110410.


The aims of this study were to examine the effects of 12 months unilateral high-resistance strength training and 8-month detraining on bone mineral content (BMC), density (BMD) and estimated mechanical characteristics of upper limb bones, and also to estimate consequent loading induced strains on forearm bone shafts. Thirteen female physiotherapy students (mean 23.8 +/- 5.0 yrs, 166 +/- 7 cm, 64.4 +/- 7 cm, 64.4 +/- 13.3 kg) trained their left upper limbs with dumbbells on average 2.8 times per week for 12 months, followed by eight months detraining. Nineteen students served as controls (mean 25.7 +/- 5.2 yrs, 165 +/- 4 cm, 62.1 +/- 7.0 kg). BMC, BMD, and bone width and estimated cortical wall thickness (CWT) were measured at five different sites in both upper extremities (proximal humerus, humeral shaft, radial shaft, ulnar shaft, and distal forearm) using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) scanner. In addition, cross-sectional moment of inertia (CSMI) was estimated from DXA data. The maximal isometric strength of the upper extremities was measured with an arm flexion-extension dynamometer. The training increased significantly the flexion strength by 14% (p = 0.001). During the detraining period, all measured strength values in the training group decreased in both limbs with respect to values after training. Despite the clear effect on muscular strength, no significant intergroup differences were observed in BMC, BMD, bone width, CWT, or CSMI values at any measured site after the training or detraining period. The estimated loading-induced strains remained within customary loading, and the change in strain level was only 15%. In conclusion, this study indicated that using high-resistance strength training may not provide an effective osteogenic stimulus for bone formation and geometric changes in upper limb bones of young, healthy, adult women. The interaction of bones and muscles may play an important and relatively unrecognized role in the development of bone strength, suggesting that the entire biomechanical environment should be carefully considered when evaluating the osteogenic efficiency of physical loading.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone Density / physiology*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Elbow / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Forearm
  • Humans
  • Humerus / physiology*
  • Menstruation
  • Patient Compliance
  • Physical Fitness
  • Radius / physiology*
  • Students, Health Occupations
  • Ulna / physiology*
  • Weight-Bearing


  • Calcium