Strength, conditioning and the heart

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Keith George with Greg Whyte

The heart is a phenomenal organ; adapting quickly, accurately and with impressive range to a host of stressors. Exercise represents the heart’s greatest physiological challenge and the most important health related stimulus.4,12The heart is also fragile and it is common knowledge that cardiovascular diseases account for approximately 50% of deaths in the Western world. These two issues, adaptability and disease prevalence, provide the two primary reasons for scientists, doctors, coaches and athletes to be interested in how the heart responds to exercise and training. These issues are as pertinent for the resistance or strength training athlete as they are for any other individual. To help understand human performance as well as to identify those athletes with congenital heart disease and thus at risk of (exercise-associated) sudden cardiacdeath, the assessment of the heart of all athletes is an important healthissue.11

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