Background: Because demands of functional exercise training with using own bodyweight for elderly individuals were increasing, the present study investigated the effects of bodyweight-based exercise training on muscle functions of leg multi-joint movements in elderly individuals.
Methods: Twenty-seven untrained healthy elderly individuals (mean +/- standard deviation, 66.0 +/- 5.7 years) completed the training program for 10 months. The exercise program consisted mainly of exercises for large leg muscle groups without using external weight, performing 10-50 repetitions and 1-3 sets for each exercise. Before and after the training period, force-velocity relations of knee-hip extension movements were measured with a servo-controlled dynamometer and the maximum force (Fmax), velocity (Vmax) and power (Pmax) were determined.
Results: After the training, Fmax and Pmax increased and these increases represented 15% (P < 0.001) and 13% (P < 0.01) of pre-training value, respectively, while Vmax did not change. Increases in Fmax after the training were positively correlated with the initial exercise intensity determined from bodyweight (BW)/Fmax of pre-training values (P < 0.05).
Conclusion: A training program using bodyweight can be substantially effective in improving lower limb muscle force and power in elderly individuals; however, the initial training status is important for progressive increases in muscle force.