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Introduction: The specific effects of resistance and endurance training on upper extremity work capacity, muscular strength, and anaerobic power in chronic survivors of paraplegia have not been previously determined.

Purpose: This study compared the effects of 12 wk of endurance training (ET) with 12 wk of resistance training (RT) on V[spacing dot above]O2peak, upper extremity strength, and power output in persons with chronic paraplegia.

Methods: Eighteen subjects with neurologically complete paraplegia, T6-T10, participated in three weekly exercise sessions during a 12-wk training period. Subjects were matched into pairs (body mass and gender) and were randomly assigned to ET or RT. The ET group performed 30 min of arm cranking at 70%-85% of HRpeak. The RT group performed three sets of 10 repetitions at six exercise stations with an intensity of ranging from 60% to 70% of 1 repetition maximum (1RM). Values of upper extremity strength (1RM) were established using the Mayhew regression equation. V[spacing dot above]O2peak was determined during arm ergometry testing using open circuit spirometry. Arm Wingate anaerobic testing (WAnT) was used to determine subjects' peak and mean anaerobic power output.

Results: V[spacing dot above]O2peak values were significantly greater after RT (15.1%) and ET (11.8%). Muscular strength significantly increased for all exercise maneuvers in the RT group (P values < 0.01) with no changes detected in the ET group. Mean WAnT power increased in the RT and ET groups by 8% and 5%, respectively. The RT group displayed significantly greater gains in peak WAnT power (P < 0.001) than ET, 15.6% and 2.6%, respectively.

Conclusion: Persons with paraplegia can significantly improve their upper extremity work capacity, muscular strength, and power by participating in RT.

(C)2009The American College of Sports Medicine