Comparison between eccentric and concentric resistance exercise training without equipment for changes in muscle strength and functional fitness of older adults

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2019 Jul;119(7):1581-1590. doi: 10.1007/s00421-019-04147-0. Epub 2019 May 4.


Purpose: The present study tested the hypothesis that resistance exercise training focusing on eccentric muscle contractions would improve muscle strength and functional physical fitness more than concentric contraction-focused resistance training in older adults.

Methods: Healthy older adults (65-84 years) were placed into eccentric (ECC; n = 9) or concentric training group (CON; n = 8). They performed 4-6 basic manual resistance exercises focusing on either eccentric or concentric muscle contractions once at a community centre and at least twice at home a week for 8 weeks. Muscle thickness of the quadriceps femoris (MT), knee extensor maximal voluntary isometric contraction strength (MVC), 30-second chair stand (CS), 3-metre timed up and go (TUG), 2-minute step (2MS), sit and reach (SR), and static balance with eyes open and closed (Bal-EC) were assessed before and 7 days after the last community centre session.

Results: Changes in MT (ECC: 21.6 ± 9.2% vs CON: 6.7 ± 7.1%), MVC (38.3 ± 22.6% vs 8.2 ± 8.4%), CS (51.0 ± 21.7% vs 34.6 ± 28.3%), TUG (16.7 ± 9.9% vs 6.3 ± 7.7%), 2MS (9.9 ± 6.0% vs 6.0 ± 7.3%) and Bal-EC (35.1 ± 6.7% vs 8.8 ± 16.2%) from baseline were greater (P < 0.05) for the ECC than the CON group.

Conclusion: These results show that the eccentric manual resistance exercise training was more effective for improving lower limb strength, mobility, and postural stability of older adults when compared with the concentric training. This suggests the significance of emphasising eccentric muscle contractions in movements to maintain and improve physical function.

Keywords: 2-minute step; 3-metre timed up and go; 30-second chair stand; Maximal voluntary isometric contraction strength; Muscle thickness; Static balance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Resistance Training / adverse effects
  • Resistance Training / methods*