Repetitions to failure versus not to failure during concurrent training in healthy elderly men: A randomized clinical trial

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This randomized clinical trial compared the neuromuscular adaptations induced by concurrent training (CT) performed with repetitions to concentric failure and not to failure in elderly men. Fifty-two individuals (66.2±5.2years) completed the pre- and post-measurements and were divided into three groups: repetitions to failure (RFG, n=17); repetitions not to failure (NFG, n=20); and repetitions not to failure with total volume equalized to RFG (ENFG, n=15). Participants were assessed in isometric knee extension peak torque (PTiso), maximal strength (1RM) in the leg press (LP) and knee extension (KE) exercises, quadriceps femoris muscle thickness (QF MT), specific tension, rate of torque development (RTD) at 50, 100 and 250ms, countermovement jump (CMJ) and squat jump (SJ) performance, as well as maximal neuromuscular activity (EMGmax) of the vastus lateralis (VL) and rectus femoris (RF) muscles. CT was performed over 12weeks, twice weekly. Along with each specific strength training program, each group also underwent an endurance training in the same session. After training, all groups improved similarly and significantly in LP and KE 1RM, PTiso, CMJ and SJ performance, RTD variables, specific tension, and VL EMGmax, (P<0.05–0.001). QF MT improved only in RFG and ENFG (P<0.01). These results suggest that repetitions until concentric failure does not provide further neuromuscular performance gains and muscle hypertrophy, and that even a low number of repetitions relative to the maximal possible (i.e., 50%) optimizes neuromuscular performance in elderly men. Moreover, training volume appears to be more important for muscle hypertrophy than training using maximal repetitions.HIGHLIGHTSIs there a need to perform repetitions to failure during strength training in elderly?It is unclear the minimal dose of strength training to optimize the adaptations in elderly.Repetitions to failure do not provide further neuromuscular gains in elderly.Low volume relative to the maximal per set optimizes neuromuscular gains in elderly.Greater volume of repetitions induces greater muscle hypertrophy in elderly men.

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