The power athlete

J. C. Longhurst, Charles L Stebbins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Power athletes are individuals who train with high resistance muscle loads, including such sports as weight lifting, wrestling, body building, gymnastics, rock climbing, and ballet, among others. This form of exercise, termed static or isometric exercise, imposes a pressure load on the heart and cardiovascular system as compared to dynamic exercise, which imposes more of a volume load. The acute cardiovascular responses to static exercise involve small increases in oxygen consumption and heart rate but large increases in blood pressure and maintenance of systemic vascular resistance, a pattern of hemodynamic response that is quite different from that present during dynamic exercise. As a result of these hemodynamic changes, chronic training as a power athlete leads to modest increases in maximal oxygen consumption largely because of the increase of skeletal muscle mass. Increases in left ventricular mass in power athletes generally is less than that associated with chronic repetitive dynamic exercise. The power athlete also does not enjoy the same resting bradycardia or reduction in submaximal heart rate that occurs with endurance training. There may also be some improvement in hypertension, lipid profile, glucose, and insulin responsiveness in the power athlete, although further research is needed in these areas. Patients with coronary disease can, with the physician's advice, safely perform static exercise to provide conditioning and enhancement of the performance of their normal daily activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-429
Number of pages17
JournalCardiology Clinics
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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