The purpose of the study was to assess the effects of three different modes of upper extremity training on the hemodynamic and metabolic responses to weight carrying in men with ischemic heart disease. Forty asymptomatic men (ages 61 ± 7 years) 6 weeks or more after a cardiac event were randomly assigned to a 12-week program of leg ergometry with weight carrying with 25% of maximal one-hand lift capacity, circuit weights at 70% of one-repetition maximum strength, or arm ergometry. Before and after the training program, subjects carried weight loads corresponding to 10%, 25%, and 45% of pretraining maximal one-hand lift capacity. Maximum muscular strength on circuit weight equipment and responses to leg cycle ergometry testing were also evaluated. After training, the weight-carrying training group demonstrated a reduction (P < 0.05) in diastolic blood pressure with carrying the 25% weight load and an increase (P < 0.05) in the duration of carrying the heaviest load. The circuit weight group showed a reduction (P < 0.05) in heart rate, but had no change in the pressor response to weight carrying. The arm ergometry group did not show any significant hemodynamic changes while weight carrying. Upper extremity strength increased an average of 12%, 30%, and 11%, and peak oxygen consumption with leg ergometry increased an average of 5%, 15% and 10% in the weight-carrying, circuit weights, and arm ergometry groups, respectively. The upper extremity training modes evaluated produced only modest improvements in the responses to weight carrying. Increased upper body strength with circuit weight training had no cross-over benefits on the pressor response to weight carrying.
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