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Strength Training – Upper Limb

Mode | Intensity | Protocol | Duration | Frequency | Type

The appropriate intensity for upper limb strengthening exercises can be prescribed based on:

A. One repetition maximum.
B. Weight repetitions.

A. Prescribing intensity based on one repetition maximum

The maximum weight that can be lifted once by a particular muscle group is known as the one repetition max (1 RM)*.   The 1 RM value is used to prescribe the intensity of the strength training program:

Choose an exercise with a weight that can be performed a maximum of10 times with correct technique (ie 10 RM).

  • Start with a weight of 50 to 60% of the patient’s 1 RM weight.
  • Perform one set (10 repetitions) of a particular exercise.
  • Aim to increase the weight up to 80% of the patient’s 1 RM while ensuring that the patient performs the exercise with the correct technique.
  • After the patient can perform three sets of an exercise, the weight may be increased.

*Caution:  Testing pulmonary rehabilitation patients for their 1 RM may not be advisable.   There may be concerns regarding joints, ligaments and bone density in many of these patients.

B. Prescribing intensity based on weight repetitions

To avoid problems with testing patients for their 1 RM, the intensity of exercise may be prescribed in either of the following ways:

  • Use a sub-maximal test to estimate the patient’s 1 RM.   The patient lifts a weight that they can only lift 2 to 3 times; this weight is taken as 80% of the patient’s 1 RM.    From this, the 1 RM can be calculated and the intensity prescribed as for the 1 RM method (see above).

Use a weight that the patient can only lift 10 times.