Resistance training – only for hardcore gym freaks?

Resistance training, including weight lifting, causes a completely different type of reaction on the part of blood vessels than aerobic training. It is usually the latter that is recommended for the health of the heart and blood vessels. However, it has been repeatedly proven that resistance training can bring potentially huge benefits due to the increased blood flow to working muscles and can be a great addition to aerobic exercise.

Aerobic training vs resistance training

Aerobic training and weight lifting cause a different blood flow in the blood vessels.

Researchers compared the reactions of blood vessels in these two types of exercise. In the case of resistance training, a set of 8 exercises was performed in 3 sets of 10 repetitions. In the case of aerobic training, cardio was performed for moderate intensity for 30 minutes.

We compared the expansion of blood vessels caused by increased blood flow, stiffness and stretch of the arteries.

The two main factors contributing to the optimal state of the cardiovascular system are:

  • increased vasodilation due to increased blood flow (FMD)
  • reduced stiffness of the arteries
  • increased vasodilation due to increased blood flow (FMD)
  • reduced stiffness of the arteries

In the study, it turned out that aerobic training and resistance training caused diametrically different vascular reactions.

Resistance training caused increased blood flow to the extremities despite the simultaneous effect on a slight increase in central stiffness of the arteries. Aerobic exercises had exactly the opposite effect. They have reduced the stiffness of the arteries. However, they did not cause increased blood flow. What's more, it was noticed that resistance training contributed to a prolonged drop in blood pressure after training.

One of the key threats to cardiovascular disease is stiffness of the arteries. Hence, aerobic training is recommended most often for people with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Resistance training is much less often recommended. Studies have shown results that aerobic training and resistance training cause reverse effects in terms of arterial stiffness while demonstrating that resistance training offers unique benefits in terms of blood flow to the extremities and regulation of blood pressure. The intensive period of resistance training has many cardiovascular benefits and should definitely be included in the daily training regimen.

Strength training in cardiac rehabilitation

In recent years, cardiac rehabilitation has been increasing the interest in strength training, also among older people. Systematic strength training in the elderly causes an increase in muscle mass, increase in strength, increase in VO2 max. This kind of training to a much greater extent than endurance effort allows you to maintain lean body mass, which is not without significance for maintaining good heart health.

In addition, strength training in the elderly improves the ability to walk, climb stairs, maintain balance, and lift heavy objects. Many specialists have for years abdicated their patients from strength training, despite numerous evidence of the benefits of this type of activity. The influence of weight training on the increase in blood pressure was feared.

However, it has been proven that by following appropriate rules and using appropriate breathing techniques, resistance training does not contribute to increased blood pressure. On the contrary, it has been shown that it can affect the prolonged reduction of blood pressure after training.

In the 90s of the twentieth century, strength exercises were recommended as a safe and necessary form of physical activity not only to healthy but also sick people. More cardiovascular abnormalities were observed during endurance tests. Such abnormalities did not occur during resistance exercise with a weight of 70% of maximum values.

The best training is a varied workout

Australian researchers have conducted studies that show that exercising, including weight training and aerobic training, can improve heart function and reduce the risk of heart attack by 84%.

It is not insignificant to maintain proper body weight as well as correct body composition while maintaining as much as possible fat-free body mass, which can help us incorporate strength training into your routine. The best effects for heart health are the combination of aerobic training. For example walking, cycling, swimming in combination with resistance training (strengthening by means of strength exercises in a series of 10-15 repetitions working on loads of 60-75% of the maximum weights).

The risk of cardiac ischemia that could occur while performing only dynamic exercise is reduced as a result of attaching a force component here. In summary, resistance training brings many benefits to the cardiovascular system and should definitely be included in the daily training regimen. Its benefits primarily result from increasing blood flow to the muscles being exercised.


Applied in the right form while maintaining safety rules, it can be used both in healthy people and those suffering from cardiovascular diseases. We achieve the best effects on heart health by combining resistance training with aerobic exercise.

Tags: aerobic, resistance, training

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