By: 15 January 2016
Study finds low-weight, high-repetition resistance exercise increases bone mineral density up to 8%

Low-weight, high-repetition resistance exercise increases bone mineral density up to 8%

A new research study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness finds that low-weight, high-repetition resistance training increases bone mineral density in adults, challenging assumptions that heavy weight-training is required to build bone mineral density. Participants who completed the study experienced up to 8 per cent bone mineral density increases in the legs, pelvis, arms and spine.

The findings indicate that this type of strength training may be an effective and maintainable method of increasing bone mineral density in older people and sedentary groups. A secondary finding indicated that postmenopausal women and osteopenic individuals would benefit most from a low-weight, high-repetition exercise regimen.

“These findings challenge the traditional thought that high-weight, low-repetition exercise is the ideal way to increase bone mineral density,” said Jinger Gottschall, associate professor and lead researcher of the study conducted at Penn State, USA. “This is such a profound finding because low-weight, high-repetition exercise is easily attainable by anybody and everybody. This approach could help at-risk populations minimise the risk of osteoporosis.”

In the study, 20 untrained adults (people who completed less than 30 minutes of exercise per week for the previous six months) completed a 27-week group exercise programme. Participants were assigned to one of two groups that either completed full-body weight-training workouts or workouts focused on building core muscles, in addition to cardiovascular workouts. The weight-training group completed two to three Bodypump® classes per week: a low-weight, high-repetition resistance training programme in which the participants used a bar and self-selected weights.

Participants in the weight-training group demonstrated an 8 per cent increase in leg bone mineral density, a 7 per cent increase in pelvis bone mineral density, a 4 per cent increase in arm bone mineral density and a 4 per cent increase in spine bone mineral density. The core group’s bone mineral density did not change significantly. Postmenopausal women and osteopenic individuals experienced significant bone mineral density increases of up to 29 per cent.

A positive correlation between squat strength and pelvis bone mineral density, indicated that the exercises used in the study could effectively decrease the risk of a hip fracture.

Source: PR Newswire


Reference: Petersen, B.A., Hastings, B. & Gottschall, J.S. (2015) Low load, high repetition resistance training increases bone mineral density in untrained adults. J. Sports Med. Physical Fitness