Heavy-resistance training in older Scandinavian men and women: short- and long-term effects on arm and leg muscles

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 1995 Dec;5(6):329-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.1995.tb00055.x.


The short- and long-term effects of heavy-resistance training (85% of one-repetition maximum (RM)) on elbow flexion and knee extension dynamic and isokinetic strength and on morphology in the biceps brachii and vastus lateralis muscles were evaluated during 1 year in 35 Scandinavian men and women, aged 70-77 years, 12 of whom formed a control group. After the first 11 weeks of training (n = 23; 3 times/week) elbow flexion and knee extension dynamic strength (1 RM) had increased [mean +/- SD] 49% +/- 16 and 163% +/- 75, respectively, with no significant difference between men and women. For the following 27 weeks, strength was maintained with one training session per week (n = 12) but dropped without training (n = 11). After the final 11 weeks of training (n = 11; 3 times/week), strength had further increased 32% +/- 16 in both the arm and the leg. Isokinetic strength measurements (Cybex II; 30 degrees/s) revealed similar but smaller gains than for dynamic strength. Muscle biopsies (n = 20) taken at the start and after the first 11 weeks of training showed a significant increase in the area of both type 1 and type 2 fibers in the biceps brachii muscle and a positive significant correlation between the percentage increase in the proportional area of type 2 fibers in the vastus lateralis muscle and the percentage increase in knee extension dynamic muscle strength. In conclusion, older Scandinavian men and women have a high capacity both to improve and to maintain muscle strength, some of which is mediated through an adaptation in the muscle fiber type population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Arm / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leg / physiology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Physical Education and Training / methods*
  • Sex Factors
  • Sweden