Volume Reduction: Which Dose is Sufficient to Retain Resistance Training Adaptations in Older Women?

Int J Sports Med. 2022 Jan;43(1):68-76. doi: 10.1055/a-1502-6361. Epub 2021 Jul 13.


We compared the effects of different resistance training (RT) volume reduction strategies on muscular strength and lean soft-tissue (LST) in older women. Fifty-seven physically independent women (>60 years) performed a 20-week pre-conditioning phase of a standardized whole-body RT program (eight exercises, three sets, 8-12 repetitions, three sessions a week), and were then randomly assigned to one of the following conditions: reduced volume for a single set (RV1, n=20) or two sets (RV2, n=19), or maintained volume of three sets (MV, n=18) for 8 weeks (specific training phase). Muscular strength in the chest press, leg extension, and preacher curl exercises was determined by one-repetition maximum tests. A dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry device was used to estimate LST. An increase in muscular strength (16.3-32.1%) and LST (3.2-7.9%) was observed after the pre-conditioning phase. There was an increase in chest press for all groups (9.4-16.7%) after the specific training phase. In contrast, only MV increased significantly in the leg extension (4.4%). No between-group differences were revealed for LST in the specific training phase. Our results suggest that reduced RT volume from three to one set per exercise for 8 weeks seems sufficient to retain neuromuscular adaptations in older women.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Resistance Training*