Influence of strength training variables on strength gains in adults over 55 years-old: a meta-analysis of dose-response relationships

J Sci Med Sport. 2014 May;17(3):337-44. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2013.05.009. Epub 2013 Jun 24.


Objectives: The importance of strength training to elderly individuals is well established. However, the dose-response relationship of the benefits of strength training in this population is unclear. The purpose of the study was to use meta-analysis to investigate the dose-response of the effects of strength training in elderly individuals.

Design: Fifteen studies with a total of 84 effect-sizes were included. The analyses examined the dose-response relationships of the following training variables 'intensity', 'number of sets', 'weekly frequency', and 'training duration' on strength improvement.

Methods: The studies selected met the following inclusion criteria: (a) randomized controlled trials; (b) trained healthy subjects of both genders; (c) trained subjects aged 55 years or older; (d) strength increases were determined pre- and post-training; (e) use of similar strength evaluation techniques (strength determined by a repetition maximum test) and training routine (dynamic concentric-eccentric knee extension exercise to train the quadriceps muscle group). The effect-sizes were calculated using fixed and random effect models with the main effects determined by meta-regression.

Results: Many combinations of training variables resulted in strength increases. However meta-regression indicated only "training duration" had a significant dose-response relationship to strength gains (p=0.001). Over durations of 8-52 weeks, longer training durations had a greater effect on strength gains compared to shorter duration protocols.

Conclusions: Resistive training causes strength gains in elderly individuals, provided the training duration is sufficiently long, regardless of the combination of other training variables.

Keywords: Aging; Exercise; Health; Meta-regression; Physical activity; Physical fitness.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Resistance Training / methods*