Discrepancies regarding the effect of resistance exercise training (RET) on arterial stiffness have led to uncertainty regarding the effect of RET on cardiovascular health. Confounding our understanding in this area are the roles of the following: load (heavier vs lighter), participant cardiovascular health, and arterial stiffness assessment method. We aimed to investigate the effects of a heavier versus a lighter load resistance training protocol on both central and local arterial stiffness in previously trained young men.Methods
Participants were randomly assigned to a 12-wk supervised whole-body RET program consisting of three sets of 8–12 repetitions (heavier-load, lower-repetition [LR]; n = 16) or three sets of 20–25 repetitions (lighter-load, higher-repetition [HR]; n = 16) to volitional failure, or a control group who maintained their regular activity habits (n = 14). Central arterial stiffness (carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity), local arterial stiffness (common carotid arterial distensibility), and left ventricular mass were measured before and after 12 wk of RET.Results
There was a reduction in carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity in both LR (6.24 ± 0.56 vs 5.77 ± 0.76 m·s−1; P < 0.05) and HR (6.42 ± 0.70 vs 5.72 ± 0.60 m·s−1; P < 0.05) with no changes in carotid distensibility (P = 0.52) or left ventricular mass allometrically scaled to fat-free mass (P = 0.60). There were no changes in any variable in the control group.Conclusions
Using current criterion-standard assessment methods, central arterial stiffness was reduced after resistance training, regardless of the load lifted during RET, with no effect on local carotid artery distensibility or left ventricular mass. Our results support a role of RET in the promotion of positive adaptations in vascular function.