Resistance Training: Working with a Certified Expert

By SUSAN GILCHRIST, M.D., M.S.

Resistance training has been shown to reduce side-effects of cancer treatment, enhance quality of life, and even improve survival in cancer survivors (Hardee, Mayo Clin Proc, 2014). A recent small study (Santos et al. Int Can Ther, 2019) demonstrated that supervised resistance training (1:1 with trainer) for 35 minutes a week improved muscle strength over an 8 week period. Adherence to training was 99%. I was impressed with this study given there were significant gains in muscular strength with minimal time commitment. It made me wonder how we can help facilitate implementation of resistance exercises for our patients outside of the clinical trial setting?


Receiving the correct advice about resistance training can be challenging for patients with breast cancer, and can be a rate-limiting step to starting a resistance routine. Having a certified cancer trainer can be invaluable to guide recommendations on # of repetitions, weight levels (lbs), and type of resistance exercises accounting for prior exposures, lymphedema, and metastatic sites. During sessions, a certified cancer trainer can review form and make adaptations (e.g. changes in volume, intensity, muscle group) during a work-out and across a 8-12 week program to reduce injury, account for physical symptoms, and/or to increase workload to advance training. Time with a trainer can improve an individual’s knowledge for future self-adjustments in the home or gym. Lastly, a trainer can be a motivator and key to keeping an individual accountable! 

The American College of Sports Medicine has a list of ACSM certified cancer exercise trainers in communities across the US. Please see link below:

https://certification2.acsm.org/profinder?_ga=2.139239987.1600007473.1525799292-1759941655.1523997371

At Outcomes4Me, we want to know whether having access to certified trainers directly from the Outcomes4Me app would be beneficial to you as a breast cancer patient? Why or why not? Would online group training sessions or a personal trainer be more effective, or both?