Maximum Dynamic Lower-Limb Strength Was Maintained During 24-Week Reduced Training Frequency in Previously Sedentary Older Women

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Walker, S, Serrano, J, and Van Roie, E. Maximum dynamic lower-limb strength was maintained during 24-week reduced training frequency in previously sedentary older women. J Strength Cond Res 32(4): 1063–1071, 2018—There is little study into the effects of reducing strength training below the recommended twice weekly frequency, particularly in older women, despite the possibility that individuals will encounter periods of reduced training frequency. The purpose of the present study was to determine the effects of a period of reduced training frequency on maximum strength and muscle mass of the lower limbs in comparison with the recommended training frequency of twice per week. After an initial 12-week period, where all subjects trained twice per week, a reduced strength training group (RST) trained once per week, whereas another strength training group (ST) continued to train twice per week for 24 weeks. A nontraining age-matched control group (CON) was used for comparison. All subjects were tested for leg press 1-repetition maximum (1RM), electromyogram (EMG) amplitude of vastus lateralis and medialis, and quadriceps cross-sectional area (CSA) measured by panoramic ultrasound at weeks 0, 12, and 36. Both ST and RST continued to increase 1RM during the reduced training frequency period compared with control (∼8% and ∼5% vs. ∼−3%, respectively; p ≤ 0.05). Accompanying these changes were significant increases in EMG amplitude in both ST and RST (p ≤ 0.05). However, the initial gains in quadriceps CSA made from week 0 to week 12 in RST were lost when training once per week (RST ∼−5%). Therefore, reduced training frequency in this population does not adversely affect maximum strength or muscle activity but can negatively affect muscle mass, even reversing training-induced gains. Older individuals not training at least twice per week may compromise potential increases in muscle mass, important in counteracting effects of aging.

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