European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 6, pp 1231–1240 | Cite as

Effects of resistance training on MRI-derived epicardial fat volume and arterial stiffness in women with obesity: a randomized pilot study

  • Maria Fernandez-del-Valle
  • Joaquin U. Gonzales
  • Shelby Kloiber
  • Sunanda Mitra
  • Jon Klingensmith
  • Eneko Larumbe-Zabala
Original Article



To date, few studies have analyzed the effects of exercise on cardiac adipose tissue. Overall, exercise programs did not meet the recommendations for significant weight loss, the utilization of resistance training was minimal, and the conclusions derived from these studies have diminished exercise as a strategy for cardiac fat loss.


The objective of this pilot study was to analyze the effects of 3-week high-intensity, moderate-volume muscular endurance resistance training (RT) on cardiac fat and arterial stiffness.


A total of 11 young females with obesity, BMI = 34.13 (± 3.16) kg/m2 (n = 5 control, n = 6 intervention) completed the study. Absolute strength was assessed using one repetition maximum test (1RM) for bench press (BP) and leg press (LP), and relative strength was calculated using body weight (BW) as BP-to-BW and LP-to-BW ratio. Magnetic resonance was used to quantify epicardial and paracardial adipose tissue (EAT and PAT) volume, and applanation tonometry was used to assess arterial stiffness by estimating pulse wave velocity (PWV).


EAT and PAT volumes (ml) showed significant interaction effects (p = 0.037 and p = 0.031), and very large changes (d > 1) of EAT (p = 0.006) and PAT (p = 0.036) in the intervention group. In addition, strength was significantly improved, including BP (p = 0.003), LP (p = 0.001), BP-to-BW ratio (p = 0.001), and LP-to-BW ratio (p = 0.002), while no changes were found in PWV.


High-intensity, moderate-volume RT, designed to enhance muscular endurance following the recommendations reduces EAT and PAT volumes, improves physical fitness in females with obesity, and has no negative effects on arterial stiffness.


Epicardial fat Paracardial fat Arterial stiffness High-intensity Moderate-volume Resistance training 



Aortic diastolic blood pressure


Analysis of variance


Aortic systolic blood pressure


Absolute oxygen consumption


Body mass index


Bench press


Bench press to body weight


Body weight


Cardiac index


Epicardial adipose tissue


Fat free mass


Fat mass

HR max

Maximal heart rate


Lean body mass


Leg press


Leg press to body weight


Magnetic resonance imaging


OMNI-Resistance Exercise Scale


Paracardial adipose tissue


Pulse wave velocity


Cardiac output


Relative oxygen consumption


Standard deviation


1 repetition maximum


Percentage of body fat



This study was partially funded by the Office of the Vicepresident for Research Seed Funds Program Texas Tech University. This project registered at (NCT02589327). The authors have no conflict of interest to disclose. The results of this study are presented clearly, honestly, and without fabrication, falsification, or inappropriate data manipulation.

Author contributions

Study concept and design: MF, EL. Acquisition of data: MF, JG, SK, JK, SM. Analysis and interpretation of data: MF, EL, JG. Drafting of the manuscript: MF, SK. Critical revision: MF, EL, JG, JK, SM. Statistical Analysis: MF, EL. Technical and material support: SK, JG, JK. Study supervision: MF, SK, SM. All the authors read and approved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied HealthSouthern Illinois University EdwardsvilleEdwardsvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Kinesiology and Sport ManagementTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA
  3. 3.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA
  4. 4.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringSouthern Illinois University EdwardsvilleEdwardsvilleUSA
  5. 5.Clinical Research InstituteTexas Tech University Health Sciences CenterLubbockUSA

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