Int J Sports Med 2009; 30(10): 703-712
DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-1225330

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Resistance Training in Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review

I. C. De Backer 1 , G. Schep 1 , F. J. Backx 2 , G. Vreugdenhil 3 , H. Kuipers 4
  • 1Maxima Medical Centre, Sports Medicine, Veldhoven, Netherlands
  • 2Department of Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 3Maxima Medical Centre, Internal Medicine, Veldhoven, Netherlands
  • 4University Maastricht, Human Movement Sciences, Maastricht, Netherlands
Further Information

Publication History

accepted after revision April 28, 2009

Publication Date:
07 July 2009 (online)


This systematic review summarizes the research of previous studies that used resistance training in the post-treatment phase of cancer patients with a focus on methodological quality, training methods and physical outcome measures. We found twenty-four studies (10 RCTs, 4 controlled clinical trials and 10 uncontrolled trials) that met all inclusion criteria. The studies were of moderate methodological quality. The majority of studies involved breast cancer patients (54%), followed by prostate cancer patients (13%). Most studies used a combination of resistance and aerobic training, which was mostly supervised. Resistance training involved large muscle groups, with 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions. The duration of the resistance training programs varied from 3–24 weeks, with a training frequency of 1–5 sessions per week. The training intensity ranged from 25% to 85% of the one-repetition maximum. Overall, positive training effects were observed for cardiopulmonary and muscle function, with significant increases in peak oxygen uptake (range: 6–39%), and in the one-repetition maximum (range: 11–110%). In general, there were no effects of training on body composition, endocrine and immune function, and haematological variables. No adverse effects of the resistance training were reported. Based upon these results, we recommend to incorporate resistance training in cancer rehabilitation programmes.



I. C. De BackerMSc 

Maxima Medical Centre

Sports Medicine

De Run 4600

5500MB Veldhoven


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