Long-term impact of strength training on muscle strength characteristics in older adults

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2013 Nov;94(11):2054-60. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2013.06.018. Epub 2013 Jul 2.


Objective: To evaluate the long-term preventive impact of strength training on muscle performance in older adults.

Design: A 7-year follow-up on a 1-year randomized controlled trial comparing the effects of combined resistance training and aerobic training and whole-body vibration training on muscle performance.

Setting: University training center.

Participants: Men and women (N=83; control [CON] group, n=27; strength-training intervention [INT] group, n=56) between 60 and 80 years of age.

Interventions: The INT group exercised 3 times weekly during 1 year, performing a combined resistance training and aerobic training program or a whole-body vibration training program. The former training program was designed according to American College of Sports Medicine guidelines. The whole-body vibration training program included unloaded static and dynamic leg exercises on a vibration platform. The CON group did not participate in any training program.

Main outcome measures: Static strength (STAT), dynamic strength at 60°/s (DYN60) and at 240°/s (DYN240), speed of movement at 20% (S20).

Results: From baseline to postintervention, muscle performance did not change in the CON group, except for S20 (+6.55%±2.88%, P<.001). One year of strength training increased (P≤.001) STAT (+11.46%±1.86%), DYN60 (+6.96%±1.65%), DYN240 (+9.25%±1.68%), and S20 (+7.73%±2.19%) in the INT group. Between baseline and follow-up, muscle performance decreased (P<.001) in both groups. However, STAT and DYN60 showed a significantly lower loss in the INT group (-8.65%±2.35% and -7.10%±2.38%, respectively) compared with the CON group (-16.47%±2.69% and -15.08%±2.27%, respectively). This positive impact might be due to the preservation of the training-induced gains, given the similar annual decline rates in both groups from postintervention to follow-up. Additionally, in trained participants, aging seems to impact velocity-dependent strength and power more compared with basic strength, as the total losses in DYN240 (CON, -15.93%±2.64%; INT, -11.39%±1.95%) and S20 (CON, -14.39%±2.10%; INT, -13.16%±1.72%) did not differ significantly between the groups.

Conclusions: A 1-year strength-training intervention results in an improved muscle performance in older adults 7 years after their enrollment in the intervention. However, an extensive exercise program cannot attenuate the age-related decline once the intervention stops.

Keywords: ACSM; ANOVA; Aging; American College of Sports Medicine; CON; DYN(240); DYN(60); FPACQ; Flemish Physical Activity Computerized Questionnaire; Follow-up studies; INT; Muscle contraction; PAL; R+A; Rehabilitation; Resistance training; S(20); STAT; WBV; analysis of variance; control (group); dynamic strength at 240°/s; dynamic strength at 60°/s; physical activity level; resistance training and aerobic training; speed of movement at 20%; static strength; strength-training intervention (group); whole-body vibration.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Resistance Training* / methods
  • Treatment Outcome