Resistance training and elite athletes: adaptations and program considerations

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1998 Aug;28(2):110-9. doi: 10.2519/jospt.1998.28.2.110.


The skepticism surrounding the potential benefits of resistance exercise training prevalent just decades ago has evolved over the years to an understanding of the integral nature muscular overload plays in the training programs for athletes. The science of training elite athletes is progressing rapidly, as insights into the physiological adaptations resulting from varying program configurations become available. Resistance training impacts several body systems, including muscular, endocrine, skeletal, metabolic, immune, neural, and respiratory. An understanding and appreciation of basic scientific principles related to resistance training is necessary in order to optimize training responses. Careful selection of the acute program variables in a workout to simulate sports-specific movements is required for optimal transfer of gains made in training to competition. Thus, whether athletes require predominantly eccentric, isometric, slow-velocity, or high-velocity strength or power in their athletic event will dictate the time commitment to each component and form the basis for designing individual workouts. Program variation over a training period is essential to maximize gains and prevent overtraining.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Periodicity
  • Physical Education and Training / methods*
  • Program Development
  • Sports / physiology
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*