A meta-regression of the effects of resistance training frequency on muscular strength and hypertrophy in adults over 60 years of age

J Sports Sci. 2021 Feb;39(3):351-358. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2020.1822595. Epub 2020 Sep 18.


Resistance training is a commonly used strategy for improving both athletic performance and general health. While the contribution of resistance training intensity and volume to muscle strength and hypertrophy have been extensively investigated, training frequency only recently received sufficient attention, especially in older adults. A meta-regression was conducted to compare muscle strength and hypertrophic adaptations to resistance training programmes performed with different training frequencies in adults over 60 years of age. The systematic literature search identified 14 articles for meta-regression. For each outcome, an effect size (ES) was calculated as the pre-test-post-test change, divided by the pooled pre-test standard deviation (SD). Random-effects meta-regressions for multilevel data structures, using study as the clustering variable, were performed using package metafor in R. Maximal strength shows a significant effect of frequency (p = 0.001), with an increase in effect size of 0.14 for every day increase in frequency (CI: 0.08, 0.21). For muscle hypertrophy, no significant effect of frequency was found (p = 0.67). Considering that muscle hypertrophy was not affected, while maximum strength was only slightly improved with additional training days, it seems unlikely that more than two weekly resistance training sessions would provide any further benefits for older adults.

Keywords: Training variables; elderly; muscle mass; muscle strength; sarcopenia.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Skeletal Muscle Enlargement*
  • Time Factors