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Maximal Strength Training of the Legs in COPD: A Therapy for Mechanical Inefficiency


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2007 - Volume 39 - Issue 2 - p 220-226
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000246989.48729.39
CLINICAL SCIENCES: Clinical Investigations

Purpose: A diminished mechanical efficiency (work/O2 consumed) accompanies chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and increased mechanical efficiency has been attained by maximal strength training (MST) with an emphasis on the maximal rate of force mobilization in the concentric phase in healthy subjects. This study combined these observations and evaluated the impact of short-term MST on patients with COPD.

Methods: Twelve patients with COPD (FEV1 = 1.1 ± 0.1) were pretested and then randomly assigned to either an MST group (N = 6) or a normal activity control group (N = 6). Within each MST training session (three times per week for 8 wk), patients performed four sets of seated leg presses with a focus on the rate of force development at an intensity that only allowed the performance of five repetitions.

Results: Patients who performed MST significantly improved their rate of force development (105 ± 22.8%), mechanical efficiency (32 ± 7%), and FEV1 (21.5 ± 6.8%), whereas these variables were unchanged in the controls. Neither group changed either peak oxygen consumption (V˙O2peak) or body mass.

Conclusion: In combination with the observed improvement in FEV1, these data certainly support the therapeutic role for MST in the treatment of COPD.

1Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Faculty of Medicine, Trondheim, NORWAY; 2St Olav University Hospital Lung Department, Trondheim, NORWAY; and 3Department of Medicine University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, CA

Address for correspondence: Russell S. Richardson, Ph.D., Department of Medicine, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0623; E-mail:

Submitted for publication June 2006.

Accepted for publication September 2006.

©2007The American College of Sports Medicine