Weight training, also known as “resistance training” (RT), has beneficial effects on blood pressure and when used properly, and in conjunction with an appropriate cardiovascular exercise regimen, can help prevent and control hypertension. The American Heart Association in association with the American College of Sports Medicine recommends RT programs that feature lower weight and higher repetitions for people with high blood pressure. Cardiovascular exercise should be performed 20-60 minutes per session, 3-5 days per week at a 40-70% or maximum oxygen uptake. Personal trainers and fitness consumers should be aware of these guidelines and how a properly designed weight-training program can be a benefit to people contending with hypertension. Before starting any exercise program, people with hypertension should consult with their physician and personal trainers need to get medical clearance from all clients before starting any workout program. American Heart Association’s Recommendations
- Individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure greater than 180/110 should not engage in a weight-training program.
- Individuals with uncontrolled high blood pressure of 160/100 should not engage in a resistance-training program unless their physician clears them.
- Resistance should allow for 8-12 repetitions maximum per set for healthy sedentary adults or 10-15 reps at a lower level of resistance for adults over 50-years of age, those who are frailer and/or cardiac patients.
- One set of each exercise should be performed 2-3 days per week
- Full range of motion should be used and a moderate, steady pace should be maintained during exercise. Avoid holding breath (Valsva maneuver) and exhale during the exertion and inhale during the relaxation phase.
- Aerobics should be performed before weight training.
- Exercises should involve the major muscle groups of the upper and lower body. For instance, overhead press (also known as military press), pull down, seated row, sit-ups, back extension, lunges, squats, and leg press.
- Alternate upper and lower body exercises to permit recovery between sets of different exercises.
- Add weight by approximately 5% when higher reps can be performed comfortably.
- Exertion perception should range from “fairly light” to “somewhat hard” throughout the duration of the set.
Weight training when used in conjunction with a regular cardiovascular exercise regimen can help to prevent and control hypertension.