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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2009 Nov;41(11):2003-8. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181a70707.

Vascular remodeling in response to 12 wk of upper arm unilateral resistance training.

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  • 1Florida Atlantic University, Davie, FL, USA.


Participation in regular aerobic exercise has been shown to increase arterial size and that exercise-induced vascular remodeling may be regional rather than systemic. However, these issues have been minimally investigated concerning resistance training.


To determine whether 1) resistance training of the nondominant arm elicits an increase in diameter of the brachial artery and 2) unilateral training induces arterial remodeling in the contralateral arm.


Twenty-four previously untrained participants, consisting of 18 females (aged 22.3 +/- 5.1 yr) and 6 males (aged 21.7 +/- 1.8 yr), participated in unilateral strength training of the biceps and triceps for 12 wk using their nondominant arm. Isotonic (one-repetition maximum, 1RM) and isometric (ISO) strength of the biceps were assessed before and after training on both arms. Brachial artery diameter and biceps muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) of both arms were also measured before and after training using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).


Brachial artery diameter increased 5.47% (P < 0.05) in the nondominant trained arm with no change observed in the dominant untrained arm. Biceps CSA increased 18.3% (P < 0.05) in the trained arm with no change (P > 0.05) in the untrained limb. Nondominant 1RM and ISO strength increased by 35.1% and 16.8%, respectively (P < 0.05 for both), although there were no significant changes (P > 0.05) in the contralateral arm. A modest correlation was found between the increases in CSA and in brachial artery diameter (r2 = 0.19, P = 0.039).


These results indicate that upper arm vascular remodeling, manifesting as increased brachial artery diameter, can result from resistance training and that these changes are localized to the trained limb and associated with increases in CSA.

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