Resistance training, also called weight training, helps keep your muscles and bones strong, increases your metabolism and can help improve your sense of well-being. Resistance training requires you to contract your muscles against an outside force like a dumbbell, resistance band or weight machine. Weak muscles can lead to poor posture, injuries and balance issues. Since cancer treatments often affect your muscle mass and bone health it’s a good idea to include some type of resistance training in your exercise program.


ACSM/ACS Cancer Recommended Guidelines:



2-3 times a week, with rest days between workouts


very light resistance, 10-15 repetitions of each exercise, at least 1 set per workout session


Gentle yoga or Tai Chi or stretching classes


Make sure you have full range of motion in the area you are working. Always start with a light weight, gradually increasing your resistance.

Special Considerations

  • Know the signs of lymphedema, when to stop and what to report immediately.
  • Do not use heavy weights or do exercise that puts too much stress on your bones if you have:
    • Osteoporosis
    • Cancer that has spread to the bone
    • Arthritis
    • Nerve damage (neuropathy)
    • Poor vision
    • Poor balance, or weakness.
  • Do not use resistance training programs in areas where you do not have 90% of your pre-treatment ROM.
  • Avoid heavy lifting which can dislodge your port if you have one.
  • Start out with light weights; wait 24 hour to assess swelling, before increasing weight loads.