The cardiovascular system of the human body is particularly fragile, meaning that it requires additional attention in the current environment. Corresponding cardiovascular conditions are often discussed as the leading causes of death and incapacitation today. In this regard, public health communities worldwide have been searching for effective ways of improving the situation and promoting the population’s cardiovascular endurance. Resistance training is a matter of increasing interest within this context. Its primary aspects focus on the strength and endurance of a person’s muscles. Accordingly, a topical question of whether this type of exercise can improve the strength of the cardiovascular system arises, as well. In order to provide an evidence-based answer, experts and scientists across the globe have been conducting rigorous research on the effect of resistance training. The in-depth analysis of the current body of knowledge will be able to inform further practical measures aimed at the prevention of cardiovascular conditions in the context of public health. This review of the literature examines a selection of recent experimental studies describing the effect of resistance training on a person’s cardiovascular endurance.
Review of the Literature
In order to address the issues related to the cardiovascular health of the population, sufficient evidence is required. As such, the performance of various prevention techniques has become an area of intense interest for researchers across the globe. The present study focuses on the role of resistance training in the discussed context. Traditionally, this type of exercise has been associated with weightlifting and other serious exercises that instigate muscle gain and physical strength (Grgic et al., 2018). However, in recent years, public health experts have been discussing other potential spheres of resistance training application in the current environment. For example, its role in mitigating the adverse effects of aging in older adults is a major point of interest (Fragala et al., 2019). On the other hand, most of the existing body of knowledge focuses on the musculoskeletal system’s response to resistance training, with different demographics serving as the variables in this context.
The correlation between resistance training programs and the cardiovascular functions of a body deserves additional exploration within the professional community. In order to inform further research in this direction, the present review has selected a list of eight recent articles. In fact, the date of the study became one of the primary selection criteria, as the research dwelled on the articles published within the past five years (2017 to 2021). In addition, despite the generally observed gap in the literature, the selection procedure focused on the studies that explored both resistance training and cardiovascular health improvement within their frameworks. Furthermore, the idea behind the review was to emphasize the practical dimension of the matter at hand. Therefore, the analysis combines experimental studies published within the past five years in the English language.
Elements of Resistance Training
Humanity has known the concept of resistance training for a relatively long time. In its general understanding, this type of workout focuses on building muscle mass and strength through various exercises. For example, it serves as one of the primary elements of circuit training, which is a paradigm widely used in current practices. The article prepared by Sonchan et al. (2017) revolves around such exercises in the context of strength, endurance, and cardiovascular health. The scientific evidence of such a program’s positive effects becomes the central topic of the research. In general, resistance training focuses on weightlifting and aerobic exercises that positively affect the strength of the musculoskeletal system (Lasevicius et al., 2018). Evidently, such methods of workouts rely on various techniques and equipment. First of all, dumbbell weightlifting is the primary component of resistance training. While this type of exercise is associated with heavy training intensity and increased muscle gains, it also demonstrates a considerable level of flexibility (Maren et al., 2019). People with different physical abilities and requirements can adjust the weight with precision, thus opting for a fitting level of workout.
Health-Related Effects of Resistance Training
Physical exercise has long been associated with a positive effect on a person’s health and well-being. However, this point of view appears highly generalized, as both systems of a body and types of workouts may vary greatly depending on the context. In this regard, the contemporary body of research concentrates on observing and describing the effects of specific exercises on particular systems. In the context of resistance training, most studies discuss the importance of its primary function, which consists of strengthening an individual’s musculoskeletal system. For example, Lopez et al. (2018) discuss the role of RT in increasing the general endurance of today’s physically frail communities. According to the authors of the study, frailty is a common cause of a decrease in a person’s quality of life today, which reveals itself with age. A practical quantitative study conducted by them showed “increases of 6.6–37% in maximal strength; 3.4–7.5% in muscle mass, 8.2% in muscle power, 4.7–58.1% in functional capacity” (p. 893). Therefore, RT may be seen as a valuable instrument of functional capacity enhancement.
At the same time, there exist studies that attempt to prove that the effects of RT are highly limited. Schoenfeld et al. (2019) argue that resistance workouts are as effective in terms of improving any kind of body system strength as in the case of already trained individuals. Their research recruited three groups of participants determined by their performance levels. Following eight weeks of resistance training with three sessions per seven days, Schoenfeld et al. (2019) evaluated the physical impact of the program on each group. As it was concluded, each group showed a proportional increase in endurance after the program, confirming the positive effect of RT in this regard. Evidently, people with a higher starting point in terms of their physique will require more time for observable results. Furthermore, the authors acknowledge the necessity of profound research on RT’s effect on women and older adults, as this article featured solely male participants.
Resistance Training and Cardiovascular Endurance
Today’s experts and scientists continue to test the validity of the RT-based approach in a variety of settings and populations. The studies that were described previously featured mostly the musculoskeletal dimension of the subject, as the desired level of evidence in terms of other body functions is yet to be attained. However, there is an emerging body of knowledge related to the matter at hand. In general, the issues of cardiovascular origins are often related to stress and fatigue factors of modern life. Chovanec and Gropel (2020) rely on the confirmed effectiveness of workouts as a response to the aforementioned factors. From a cardiovascular point of view, these benefits are conditioned on two levels. On the physical stratum, resistance training is found to strengthen a person’s heart, which is also a muscle, as well as his or her blood vessels. Proper exercise combined with the corresponding dietary habits normalizes the blood pressure while increasing ventricular filling and improving cardiac performance.
From a psychological perspective, sports and physical exercise, in general, are often discussed in relation to lower stress levels. The experimental study by Chovanec and Gropel (2020) revealed better mental stability of the participants, which, in turn, relieved the effect of stress on the cardiovascular functions of the body. However, such an effect is associated with other types of workouts, as well. Accordingly, Ismail (2018) suggests that the most effective manner of improving cardiovascular endurance is through a mixed approach. His experimental study relied on a combined aerobic technique, which, however, had many elements of resistance training at its core. This article recruited mostly inactive, sedent participants representative of a large portion of today’s population. Indeed, many residents of emerging and advanced countries work office jobs that require them to spend several hours in front of computers and other equipment. Ismail (2018) observed impressive differences in the post-intervention assessment of the participants. Having completed the 24-week intervention program, people showed a significantly better level of cardiovascular endurance. This evidence speaks in favor of the increased potential of RT in preventing the development of cardiovascular complications in the population.
Of course, resistance training is not the only instrument capable of achieving positive results in the discussed context. However, its central role in building cardiac and vascular strength is observed across many studies. As such, Jones et al. (2020) focused on a highly vulnerable social group of oncology survivors, namely the women who experienced breast cancer. The novelty of this approach is enabled by both an emphasis on the female population and the discussion of RT in the context of oncology. According to the authors of this study, oncology patients undergo highly damaging treatment procedures that undermine the health of several systems, but the effect on cardiovascular health is especially strong (Jones et al., 2020). A twelve-week experiment attempted to measure the improvements after resistance training programs based on the aortic pulse wave velocity. Ultimately, the article reports a statistically significant increase in cardiovascular endurance in all twenty-five participants. Accordingly, female breast cancer patients can benefit greatly from a properly arranged, RT-based approach to post-treatment recovery.
Overall, physical training and RT, in particular, can improve the cardiovascular endurance of patients with various conditions. Bellavere et al. (2018) discuss resistance training as one of the viable alternatives for the population with type 2 diabetes. According to the researchers, both RT and aerobic exercise positively correlate with the metabolic control of the body. However, they acknowledge the current gap in the body of knowledge related to the cardiovascular functions of patients. In order to fill the research void, Bellavere et al. (2018) conducted an in-depth examination of aerobic and resistance training effects on type two diabetes patients. As a result, both control groups showed large improvements in various indices related to the autonomic control of the cardiovascular system. These findings make resistance training an effective instrument for preventing heart and blood vessel complications in diabetes patients.
The examination of the existing literature showed a considerable lack of experimental evidence of resistance training in the context of cardiovascular resistance. More specifically, most studies focus on the direct musculoskeletal impact of this method of exercise. However, relevant literature begins to appear, thus highlighting the importance of the research topic. In most cases, RT is discussed in combination with other prominent techniques, including aerobic and mixed training. The analysis of the presented articles confirms the positive role of resistance workouts in improving cardiovascular endurance in a variety of settings and populations.
First of all, RT is an effective cardiovascular disease prevention tool for inactive adults pursuing a sedentary lifestyle. Second, the current body of knowledge suggests that resistance training does not lose its effectiveness for highly trained individuals. If their muscle growth response is positive, it is possible to theorize a similar correlation in the cardiovascular effect. Third, the female population is equally susceptible to the positive impact of RT. Moreover, it promotes cardiovascular endurance in post-treatment cancer and types two diabetes patients. This evidence implies that the role of resistance training in improving cardiovascular health is significant. However, further research is required to establish a more profound understanding of its effect across a multitude of complex settings and demographics.
Ultimately, the importance of cardiovascular health and endurance is actively discussed within today’s public health community. In fact, heart and blood vessel conditions have historically become some of the leading causes of death, even in the most developed societies. Moreover, the current prevalence of sedent work and inactive lifestyle is equally alarming, as it aggravates an already topical issue. In this context, resistance training is found to be a highly effective prevention technique. Both inactive and trained people benefit from RT on a variety of levels, but the improvement of cardiovascular endurance is particularly important. The existing literature confirms that regular resistance training is capable of having a profound impact on a person’s health. Evidently, the workout requires a considerate approach that would distribute the load in an effective manner. Overall, when implemented correctly, resistance training prevents the development of cardiovascular complications and enables the recovery of patients with other underlying conditions.
Chovanec, L., & Gropel, P. (2020). Effects of 8-week endurance and resistance training programs on cardiovascular stress responses, life stress and coping. Journal of Sports Sciences, 38(15), 1699–1707. Web.
Fragala, M. S., Cadore, E.L., Dorgo, S., Izquierdo, M., Kraemer, W. J., Peterson, M. D., & Ryan, E. D. (2019). Resistance training for older adults: A position statement from the national strength and conditioning association. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 33(8), 2019–2052.
Grgic, J., Schoenfeld, B. J., Davies, T. B., Lazinica, B., Krieger, J. W., & Pedisic, Z. (2018). Effect of resistance training frequency on gains in muscular strength: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sports Medicine, 48, 1207–1220. Web.
Ismail, M. (2018). The effects of mixed exercise (ABOXERCISE) on cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance and BMI level in 30- to 40–year-old obese males. Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, 26(3), 1519–1527.
Jones, L. M., Stoner, L., Baldi, J. C., & McLaren, B. (2020). Circuit resistance training and cardiovascular health in breast cancer survivors. European Journal of Cancer Care, 29(4). Web.
Lasevicius, T., Ugrinowitsch, C., Schoenfeld, B. J., Roschel, H., Tavares, L. D, De Souza, E. O., Laurentino, G., & Tricoli, V. (2018). Effects of different intensities of resistance training with equated volume load on muscle strength and hypertrophy. European Journal of Sport Science, 18(6), 772–780. Web.
Lopez, P., Pinto, R. S., Radaeli, R., Rech, A., Grazioli, R., Izquierdo, M., & Cadore, E. L. (2018). Benefits of resistance training in physically frail elderly: a systematic review. Aging Clinical and Experimental Research, 30, 889–899. Web.
Schoenfeld, B. J., Contreras, B., Krieger, J., Grgic, J., Delcastillo, K., Belliard, R., & Alto, A. (2019). Resistance training volume enhances muscle hypertrophy but not strength in trained men. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 51(1), 94–103. Web.
Sonchan, W., Moungmee, P., & Sootmongkol, A. (2017). The effects of a circuit training program on muscle strength, agility, anaerobic performance and cardiovascular endurance. International Journal of Sport and Health Sciences, 11(4), 176–179.