Resistance training interventions across the cancer control continuum: a systematic review of the implementation of resistance training principles

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The primary purpose of this systematic review is to examine the extant resistance training (RT) cancer research to evaluate the proportion of RT interventions that: (1) implemented key RT training principles (specificity, progression, overload) and (2) explicitly reported relevant RT prescription components (frequency, intensity, sets, reps).


A qualitative systematic review was performed by two reviewers (CMF and PNH) who inspected the titles and abstracts to determine eligibility for this systematic review. Identified papers were obtained in full and further reviewed. Data were extracted to evaluate the application of principles of training, along with specific RT components.

Data sources

Electronic databases (PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane, PEDro, PsychInfo, Cancer Lit, Sport Discus, AMED, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials) and reference lists of included articles from inception to May 2016.


37 studies were included. The principle of specificity was used appropriately in all of the studies, progression in 65% and overload in 76% of the studies. The most common exercise prescription (∼50%) implemented in the studies included in this review were 2–3 days/week, focusing on large muscle groups, 60–70% 1 repetition maximum (RM), 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions.


Reporting of RT principles in an oncology setting varies greatly, with often vague or non-existent references to the principles of training and how the RT prescription was designed.

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