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Vol. 51, No. 2, 2005
Issue release date: March–April 2005
Gerontology 2005;51:108–115

Improved Physical Performance in Older Adults Undertaking a Short-Term Programme of High-Velocity Resistance Training

Henwood T.R. · Taaffe D.R.
School of Human Movement Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

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Background: The age-related loss of muscle power in older adults is greater than that of muscle strength and is associated with a decline in physical performance. Objective: To investigate the effects of a short-term high-velocity varied resistance training programme on physical performance in healthy community-dwelling adults aged 60–80 years. Methods: Subjects undertook exercise (EX; n = 15) or maintained customary activity (controls, CON; n = 10) for 8 weeks. The EX group trained 2 days/week using machine weights for three sets of eight repetitions at 35, 55, and 75% of their one-repetition maximum (the maximal weight that an individual can lift once with acceptable form) for seven upper- and lower-body exercises using explosive concentric movements. Results: Fourteen EX and 10 CON subjects completed the study. Dynamic muscle strength significantly increased (p = 0.001) in the EX group for all exercises (from 21.4 ± 9.6 to 82.0 ± 59.2%, mean ± SD) following training, as did knee extension power (p < 0.01). Significant improvement occurred for the EX group in the floor rise to standing (10.4 ± 11.5%, p = 0.004), usual 6-metre walk (6.6 ± 8.2%, p = 0.010), repeated chair rise (10.4 ± 15.6%, p = 0.013), and lift and reach (25.6 ± 12.1%, p = 0.002) performance tasks but not in the CON group. Conclusions: Progressive resistance training that incorporates rapid rate-of-force development movements may be safely undertaken in healthy older adults and results in significant gains in muscle strength, muscle power, and physical performance. Such improvements could prolong functional independence and improve the quality of life.

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