Int J Sports Med 2005; 26(3): 214-219
DOI: 10.1055/s-2004-820997
Training & Testing

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

The Effect of Backward Locomotion Training on the Body Composition and Cardiorespiratory Fitness of Young Women

E. Terblanche1 , C. Page1 , J. Kroff1 , R. E. Venter2
  • 1Department of Medical Physiology and Biochemistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch, Tygerberg, Cape Town, South Africa
  • 2Department of Sport Science, University of Stellenbosch, Matieland, Stellenbosch, South Africa
Further Information

Publication History

Accepted after revision: February 9, 2004

Publication Date:
26 August 2004 (online)


This study investigated the effect of a backward training program on the physical and fitness condition of young women. Twenty-six healthy female university students (aged 18 - 23 years) took part in three different baseline tests: body composition, a submaximal treadmill test, and a 20-m shuttle run test. Subjects were divided into a training group (n = 13) and a control group (n = 13). The training group completed a six-week backward run/walk training program. The control group was restricted to their daily activities similar to the four weeks prior to the onset of the baseline tests. The training group showed a significant (p = 0.01) decrease in O2 consumption during both submaximal forward and backward exercise on the treadmill (32 % decrease during backward and 30 % decrease during forward exercise). A significant (p = 0.01) decrease in percentage body fat (2.4 %), a 19.7 % decrease in the sum of skinfolds (p = 0.001) and significantly (p = 0.013) improved predicted VO2max values from the forward 20-m shuttle run test (5.2 %) were also found in the case of the training group. The findings suggest that backward walk/run training improves cardiorespiratory fitness for both forward and backward exercise and causes significant changes in body composition in young women.


  • 1 Abbott B C, Bigland B, Ritchie J M. The physiological cost of negative work.  J Physiol. 1952;  117 380-390
  • 2 Anderson C G, Convery J J, Craven S D, Green J K. Cardiorespiratory and metabolic responses during forward and backward walking.  J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1997;  25 302-306
  • 3 Ballor D L, Keesey R E. A meta-analysis of the factors affecting exercise-induced changes in body mass, fat mass, and fat-free mass in males and females.  Int J Obes. 1991;  15 717-726
  • 4 Bishop D. Evaluation of the Accusport lactate analyser.  Int J Sports Med. 2001;  22 525-530
  • 5 Chaloupka E C, Kang J, Mastrangelo M A, Donnelly M S. Cardiorespiratory and metabolic responses during forward and backward walking.  J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1997;  255 302-306
  • 6 Childs J D, Gannt C, Higgins D, Papazis J A, Franklin R, Metzier T, Underwood F B. The effect of repeated bouts of backward walking on physiological efficiency.  J Strength Cond Res. 2002;  16 451-455
  • 7 Cipriani D J, Armstrong C W, Gaul S. Backward walking at three levels of treadmill inclination: an electromyographic and kinematic analysis.  J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1995;  223 95-102
  • 8 Clarkson E, Cameron S, Osmon P, McGraw C, Smutok M, Stetts D, Underwood F. Oxygen consumption, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion in young adult women during backward walking at different speeds.  J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1997;  252 113-118
  • 9 Devita P, Stribling J. Lower extremity joint kinetics and energetics during backward running.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1991;  23 602-610
  • 10 Drouin J M, Valovich-McLeod T C, Shultz S J, Gansneder B M, Perrin D H. Reliability and validity of the Biodex system 3 pro isokinetic dynamometer velocity, torgue and position measurements.  Eur J Applied Physiol. 2003;  91 22-29
  • 11 Durnin J VGA, Womersley J. Body fat assessed from total body density and its estimation from skinfold thickness: measurements on 481 men and women aged from 16 to 72 years.  Br J Nutr. 1974;  32 77-97
  • 12 Flynn T W, Connery S M, Smutok M A, Zeballos R J, Weisman I M. Comparison of cardiopulmonary responses to forward and backward walking and running.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1994;  26 89-94
  • 13 Flynn T W, Soutas-Little R W. Patello-femoral joint compressive forces during forward and backward running.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1991;  234 6
  • 14 Flynn T W, Soutas-Little R W. Mechanical power and muscle action during forward and backward running.  J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1993;  172 108-112
  • 15 Hawley J A. Fat burning during exercise: can ergogenics change the balance?.  Phys Sportsmed. 1998;  26 56-62
  • 16 Iknoian T. Fitness Walking. Champaign, IL; Human Kinetics 1995
  • 17 Kramer J F. Backward walking: a cinematographic and electromyographic pilot study.  Physiother Can. 1981;  33 77-86
  • 18 Leger L A, Mercier D, Gadoury C, Lambert J. The multistage 20-metre shuttle run test for aerobic fitness.  J Sports Sci. 1988;  6 93-101
  • 19 Mackie J W, Dean T W. Running backward training effects on upper leg musculature and ligamentous instability of injured knees (Abstract).  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1984;  16 151
  • 20 Miller D K, Allen T E. Fitness: A Lifetime Commitment. 5th ed. Needham Heights, MA; Allyn and Bacon 1995: 219-236
  • 21 Myatt G, Baxter R, Dougherty R, Williams G, Halle J, Stetts D, Underwood F. The cardiopulmonary cost of backward walking at selected speeds.  J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1995;  21 132-138
  • 22 Swain D P, Leutholz B C. Exercise Prescription: A Case Study Approach to the ACSM Guidelines. Champaign, IL; Human Kinetics 2002: 65-75
  • 23 Threlkeld A J, Horn T S, Worrowicz J G, Rooney J G, Shapiro R. Kinematics, ground reaction force, and muscle balance produced by backward running.  J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1987;  9 211-216
  • 24 Tsai A C, Sandretto A, Chung Y-C. Dieting is more effective in reducing weight but exercise is more effective in reducing fat during the early phase of a weight-reducing program in healthy humans.  J Nutr Biochem. 2003;  14 541-549
  • 25 Williford H N, Olson M S, Gauger S, Duey W J, Blessing D L. Cardiovascular and metabolic costs of forward, backward, and lateral motion.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1998;  309 1419-1423

Dr. E. Terblanche

Department of Medical Physiology and Biochemistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Stellenbosch

PO Box 19063

Tygerberg 7505, Cape Town

South Africa

Phone: + 27219389531

Fax: + 27 2 19 38 94 76