Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of age and gender on the strength response to strength training (ST) and detraining.
Methods: Eighteen young (20-30 yr) and 23 older (65-75 yr) men and women had their one-repetition maximum (1 RM) and isokinetic strength measured before and after 9 wk of unilateral knee extension ST (3 d x wk(-1)) and 31 wk of detraining.
Results: The young subjects demonstrated a significantly greater (P < 0.05) increase in 1 RM strength (34+/-3%; 73+/-5 vs 97+/-6 kg; P < 0.01) than the older subjects (28+/-3%; 60+/-4 vs 76+/-5 kg, P < 0.01). There were no significant differences in strength gains between men and women in either age group with 9 wk of ST or in strength losses with 31 wk of detraining. Young men and women experienced an 8+/-2% decline in 1 RM strength after 31 wk of detraining (97+/-6 vs 89+/-6 kg, P < 0.05). This decline was significantly less than the 14+/-2% decline in the older men and women (76+/-5 vs 65+/-4 kg, P < 0.05). This strength loss occurred primarily between 12 and 31 wk of detraining with a 6+/-2% and 13+/-2% decrease in the young and older subjects, respectively, during this period.
Discussion: These results demonstrate that changes in 1 RM strength in response to both ST and detraining are affected by age. However, ST-induced increases in muscular strength appear to be maintained equally well in young and older men and women during 12 wk of detraining and are maintained above baseline levels even after 31 wk of detraining in young men, young women, and older men.