European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 114, Issue 7, pp 1463–1471 | Cite as

Metabolic adaptations in skeletal muscle, adipose tissue, and whole-body oxidative capacity in response to resistance training

  • Malin AlvehusEmail author
  • Niklas Boman
  • Karin Söderlund
  • Michael B. Svensson
  • Jonas Burén
Original Article



The effects of resistance training on mitochondrial biogenesis and oxidative capacity in skeletal muscle are not fully characterized, and even less is known about alterations in adipose tissue. We aimed to investigate adaptations in oxidative metabolism in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue after 8 weeks of heavy resistance training in apparently healthy young men.


Expression of genes linked to oxidative metabolism in the skeletal muscle and adipose tissue was assessed before and after the training program. Body composition, peak oxygen uptake (VO2 peak), fat oxidation, activity of mitochondrial enzyme in muscle, and serum adiponectin levels were also determined before and after resistance training.


In muscle, the expression of the genes AdipoR1 and COX4 increased after resistance training (9 and 13 %, respectively), whereas the expression levels of the genes PGC-1α, SIRT1, TFAM, CPT1b, and FNDC5 did not change. In adipose tissue, the expression of the genes SIRT1 and CPT1b decreased after training (20 and 23 %, respectively). There was an increase in lean mass (from 59.7 ± 6.1 to 61.9 ± 6.2 kg), VO2 peak (from 49.7 ± 5.5 to 56.3 ± 5.0 ml/kg/min), and fat oxidation (from 6.8 ± 2.1 to 9.1 ± 2.7 mg/kg fat-free mass/min) after training, whereas serum adiponectin levels decreased significantly and enzyme activity of citrate synthase and 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase did not change.


Despite significant increases in VO2 peak, fat oxidation, and lean mass following resistance training, the total effect on gene expression and enzyme activity linked to oxidative metabolism was moderate.


Resistance training Oxidative capacity Skeletal muscle Adipose tissue Gene expression Enzyme activity 



Adiponectin receptor 1


Cytochrome c oxidase subunit 4


Carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1


Citrate synthase


Fat-free mass


3-Hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase


Maximal fat oxidation


Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ co-activator-1α


Sirtuin 1


Mitochondrial transcription factor A

VO2 peak

Peak oxygen uptake



This study could not have been completed without the help of Dr. Magnus Högström in collecting muscle and adipose tissue biopsies. We are grateful to Andreas Isaksson, Andreas Carlström, Eliot Ferrer, Ann-Sofie Malmefjäll, and Anna Norrby for coaching the study subjects during training. We thank Lennart Burlin and Erkki Jakobsson for performing the VO2 peak tests. We thank lab technician Margareta Danielsson for excellent technical assistance with the serum analyses. Finally, we thank all of the volunteers who dedicated their valuable time to these studies.

Conflict of interest

No conflicts of interest are declared by the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Malin Alvehus
    • 1
    Email author
  • Niklas Boman
    • 2
  • Karin Söderlund
    • 3
  • Michael B. Svensson
    • 2
  • Jonas Burén
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, MedicineUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Department of Surgical and Perioperative Science, Sports MedicineUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  3. 3.The Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences (GIH)StockholmSweden

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