In this cross-sectional, retrospective study, the bone mineral content (BMC) and density (BMD) of the whole skeleton, upper limbs, lower limbs, femoral neck, and lumbar vertebrae were measured using dual photon absorptiometry and the results compared in healthy young males involved in: weight-lifting, running, cross-training, or recreational exercises. When adjusted for body weight, the upper limb BMD was highest in those engaged solely in weight-lifting, (mean 1.021, SE 0.019, and 95% CI 0.981–1.061) and lowest in runners (mean 0.908, SE 0.019 and 95% CI 0.869–0.946). These differences were significant (P = 0.0004). There were no significant differences in upper limb BMD between weight-lifters and cross-trained athletes and between runners and those engaged in recreational exercises. Significant differences in BMD were observed between weight-lifters and recreational athletes (P = 0.001) and between cross-trained athletes and runners (P = 0.03). No other significant differences were observed. These data suggest that healthy, young, adult males reporting a history of intensive weight-lifting had significantly greater bone mass of the upper limb bones than those reporting a history of non-weight-lifting exercises. These results imply a specific versus generalized effect of mechanical load on bones of the skeleton.
©1994The American College of Sports Medicine