Strength and skeletal muscle adaptations in heavy-resistance-trained women after detraining and retraining

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1991 Feb;70(2):631-40. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1991.70.2.631.


Six women who had participated in a previous 20-wk strength training study for the lower limb detrained for 30-32 wk and subsequently retrained for 6 wk. Seven untrained women also participated in the 6-wk "retraining" phase. In addition, four women from each group volunteered to continue training an additional 7 wk. The initial 20-wk training program caused an increase in maximal dynamic strength, hypertrophy of all three major fiber types, and a decrease in the percentage of type IIb fibers. Detraining had relatively little effect on fiber cross-sectional area but resulted in an increased percentage of type IIb fibers with a concomitant decrease in IIa fibers. Maximal dynamic strength decreased but not to pretraining levels. Retraining for 6 wk resulted in significant increases in the cross-sectional areas of both fast fiber types (IIa and IIab + IIb) compared with detraining values and a decrease in the percentage of type IIb fibers. The 7-wk extension accentuated these trends such that cross-sectional areas continued to increase (nonsignificant) and no IIb fibers could be found. Similar results were found for the nonpreviously trained women. These data suggest that rapid muscular adaptations occur as a result of strength training in previously trained as well as non-previously trained women. Some adaptations (fiber area and maximal dynamic strength) may be retained for long periods during detraining and may contribute to a rapid return to "competitive" form.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Muscles / pathology
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Physical Education and Training*


  • Adenosine Triphosphatases