Power training has been shown to be more effective than conventional resistance training for improving physical function in older adults; however, most trials have used pneumatic machines during training. Considering that the general public typically has access to plate-loaded machines, the effectiveness and safety of power training using plate-loaded machines compared to pneumatic machines is an important consideration. The purpose of this investigation was to compare the effects of high-velocity training using pneumatic machines (Pn) versus standard plate-loaded machines (PL).Methods:
Independently-living older adults, 60 years or older were randomized into two groups: pneumatic machine (Pn, n = 19) and plate-loaded machine (PL, n = 17). After 12 weeks of high-velocity training twice per week, groups were analyzed using an intention-to-treat approach. Primary outcomes were lower body power measured using a linear transducer and upper body power using medicine ball throw. Secondary outcomes included lower and upper body muscle muscle strength, the Physical Performance Battery (PPB), gallon jug test, the timed up-and-go test, and self-reported function using the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) and an online video questionnaire. Outcome assessors were blinded to group membership.Results:
Lower body power significantly improved in both groups (Pn: 19%, PL: 31%), with no significant difference between the groups (Cohen's d = 0.4, 95% CI (−1.1, 0.3)). Upper body power significantly improved only in the PL group, but showed no significant difference between the groups (Pn: 3%, PL: 6%). For balance, there was a significant difference between the groups favoring the Pn group (d = 0.7, 95% CI (0.1, 1.4)); however, there were no statistically significant differences between groups for PPB, gallon jug transfer, muscle muscle strength, timed up-and-go or self-reported function. No serious adverse events were reported in either of the groups.Conclusions:
Pneumatic and plate-loaded machines were effective in improving lower body power and physical function in older adults. The results suggest that power training can be safely and effectively performed by older adults using either pneumatic or plate-loaded machines.