High-resistance versus variable-resistance training in older adults

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Abstract

HUNTER, G. R., C. J. WETZSTEIN, C. L. MCLAFFERTY, JR., P. A. ZUCKERMAN, K. A. LANDERS, and M. M. BAMMAN. High-resistance versus variable-resistance training in older adults. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 33, No. 10, 2001, pp. 1759–1764. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of high-resistance (HR) training, 3 times·wk−1 at 80% maximum strength (1RM) with 3 times·wk−1 variable-resistance (VR) training (once-weekly training at 80%, 65%, and 50% 1RM) in older adults. Methods: The study was a 6-month resistance training intervention conducted in the Birmingham Alabama metropolitan area, and included healthy volunteer men and women over the age of 60. Twenty-eight subjects were assigned randomly to two training groups. Eight volunteers served as controls. Before and after 25 wk of training, body composition was measured by densitometry; strength by isometric tests; and difficulty in performing daily activity tasks (DAT) by measuring heart rate, oxygen uptake, electromyography, and perceived exertion. In addition, 1RM strength was measured every 25 d throughout the 6 months of training. Repeated measures ANOVA and paired t-tests with Bonferroni corrections for additive alpha were used to analyze the data. Results: The control group did not significantly change in any study parameter. No significant change in body weight occurred for any group. However, the HR and VR groups increased fat free mass (FFM) similarly (1.8 kg and 1.9 kg, respectively). Both training groups increased strength significantly, without significant differences in change. No significant change in oxygen uptake occurred during DAT. However, there was a significant time effect for heart rate and perceived exertion. Greater decrease in normalized integrated electromyography during the carry task was found in the VR group over the HR and control groups. Conclusion: Despite similar increases in strength and fat free mass, the VR group decreased difficulty of performing the carry task more than the HR group. These data suggest that larger improvements in DAT may be achieved if frequency of high-resistance training is less than 3 times·wk−1.

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