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AIDS. 1999 Feb 4;13(2):231-9.

Short-term progressive resistance training increases strength and lean body mass in adults infected with human immunodeficiency virus.

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Department of Community Health, Tufts University School of Medicine, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA.



To assess the efficacy of progressive resistance training (PRT) in increasing strength and lean body mass (LBM) in HIV-infected adults.


Twenty-five adults with HIV infection were trained using a highly intensive PRT regimen for 8 weeks, followed by an additional 8 weeks of observation under ad libitum physical activity conditions.


Twenty-four of the 25 patients completed the first phase of the study. They had significant increases in strength on all four exercises tested (P < 0.0001), and an increase in LBM of 1.75 +/- 1.94 kg (mean +/- SD, P < 0.0002), with a concomitant decline in fat of 0.92 +/- 2.22 kg (P < 0.05), and no significant change in weight or bone mineral content. Twenty-one of the patients returned for follow-up 8 weeks after completing the PRT. Compared with their baseline values, their mean lean mass remained 1.40 +/- 1.8 kg higher (P < 0.003). Among those who continued to train to some extent, lean mass increased by a mean of 1.1 +/- 1.6 kg (n = 9, P < 0.05 versus end of PRT), whereas those who did no further training showed an increase in lean mass of 0.28 +/- 1.4 kg (n = 12, P = NS versus end of PRT). The difference between the two groups was not, however, significant (P = 0.25). Among six patients with AIDS wasting, the increase in LBM was larger than among non-wasted patients (2.8 versus 1.4 kg, P < 0.06), and there was an increase in both weight (+3.9 versus -0.2 kg, P < 0.002) and fat mass (+ 0.95 versus -1.5 kg, P < 0.002) at 8 weeks, which persisted at 16 weeks (weight: +4.0 versus -1.6 kg, P < 0.0002; fat: +1.6 versus -1.9 kg, P < 0.01).


This preliminary study suggests that short-term, high intensity PRT can significantly increase LBM and strength in HIV infection, and may be used as an alternative or adjunct to pharmacological anabolic treatments in this disease.

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