A comparison of high-speed power training and traditional slow-speed resistance training in older men and women

J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Dec;24(12):3369-80. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181f00c7c.


Muscle power, the product of force × velocity, is a critical determinant of function in older adults. Resistance training (RT) at high speed has been shown to improve peak muscle power in this population; however, different functional tasks may benefit from the improvement of power at values other than "peak" values, for example, tasks that require a greater velocity component or a greater force component. This study compared the effect of high-speed RT on muscle performance (peak power [PP] and its components [PP force and PP velocity] and overall peak velocity [VEL]) across a broad range of external resistances. Thirty-eight older men and women were randomized to high-speed power training at 40% of the 1-repetition maximum (1RM) (n = 13 [74.1 ± 6.4 years]); traditional RT at 80% 1RM (n = 13 [70.1 ± 7.0 years]); or control (n = 12 [72.8 ± 4.1 years]). Measures of muscle performance were obtained at baseline and after the 12-week training intervention. Muscle power and 1RM strength improved similarly with both high-speed and traditional slow-speed RT. However, speed-related muscle performance characteristics, PP velocity and overall VEL, were most positively impacted by high-speed power training, especially at lower external resistances. Because gains in speed-related measures with high-speed training compared to traditional RT do not come at the expense of other muscle performance outcomes, we recommend using an RT protocol in older adults that emphasizes high-speed movements at low external resistances.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Torque
  • Treatment Outcome