Resistance Training at a Fast Pace Safe Despite High Blood Pressure

Should you do slow or fast repetitions when you’re lifting weights? Should you increase the weight or the repetitions to get the most of your efforts? Are abdominal crunches worth the pain? These are just a few of the questions that Professor Brad Schoenfeld (Lehman College) has pursued in his quest to find the most effective resistance training regimens for sports performance as well as for preventing muscle decline with age.

Schoenfeld has published more than 60 articles on the health benefits of resistance training. His most recently published study, which he collaborated on with researchers from Brazil, focused on the safety and benefit of resistance training in older women with high blood pressure. It appeared in the international journal Clinical Interventions in Aging.

There is some concern that strength training can raise blood pressure during exercise, even though it can reduce blood pressure over the long term. This research compared high-velocity resistance training — meaning subjects do the repetitions as quickly as they can — with traditional resistance training, in which each repetition takes two or three seconds. High-veloc­ity repetitions are more effective in increasing muscle power compared to traditional resistance training. Schoenfeld and his team found that high-velocity training was safe and effective for elderly women with high blood pressure who were taking medications. 

The benefits of high-velocity training have real-world implications, like helping prevent falls in the elderly. Research shows that muscle power improves mobility and decreases fall risk more effectively than muscles strength. “If you start falling, you want to quickly counteract that fall, and that requires power,” said Schoenfeld.

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“Comparison of the acute effects of traditional versus high velocity resistance training”

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Bradley Schoenfeld (Assistant Professor, Exercise Science) | Profile 1

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Lehman College

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