Glucose tolerance and lipid‐lipoprotein levels in middle‐aged powerlifters

B. F. Hurley, J. M. Hagberg, D. R. Seals, A. A. Ehsani, A. P. Goldberg, J. O. Holloszy

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Summary. The purpose of this study was to obtain information regarding the effects of a form of strength training (powerlifting) on certain coronary artery disease (CAD) risk factors in middle‐aged men. The risk factors studied were the plasma lipid‐lipoprotein profile, glucose tolerance and plasma insulin levels, all of which have been shown to be favourably influenced by endurance training in middle‐aged and older men. Five elite powerlifters (52±9 years) were compared to distance runners and sedentary controls of similar age with whom they were matched in terms of body fatness as estimated from skinfold thickness measurements. The powerlifters had a significantly (P < 0·01) lower HDL cholesterol (HDL‐C) level (34±4 mg/100 ml) than the sedentary controls (48±12 mg/100 ml) and runners (54±8 mg/100 ml). The total cholesterol to HDL‐C ratio, a good indicator of CAD risk, was 41% higher in the powerlifters than in the controls, and 57% higher than in the runners (both P<0·01). The total area under the glucose tolerance curve during an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) for the powerlifters was 74% higher than for the sedentary controls (P<0·05) and 229% higher than for runners (P<0·01). Similarly, the total area under the OGTT insulin curve for the powerlifters was 68% higher than for sedentary controls and 332% higher than for the runners P<0·01). These findings suggest that middle‐aged powerlifters, in marked contrast to endurance athletes, have an increased risk of developing CAD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-19
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1987


  • aging
  • cholesterol
  • exercise
  • glucose tolerance
  • insulin resistance
  • lipoproteins
  • strength training
  • triglycerides


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