Strength and Power Training for the Elderly

Peter Herbert

University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen Campus, Carmarthen SA31 3EP;

5th May 2017


Declining muscle power with advancing age is predictive of falls and loss of independence. Muscle power has been shown to decline at a greater rate than strength during ageing, indicating a need to prescribe exercise programmes that will cause increases in power as well as strength. Traditional programmes for older persons tend to prescribe moderate resistance exercises two or three times a week. We hypothesised that an 8-week programme of high intensity exercise performed once weekly, would be more effective than a traditional programme in increasing power and strength in over 55-year old females with no weight training experience. Eighteen females (60 ± 5 years) were allocated to three equal groups. Group 1 (G1) completed three exercises of 3 x 10 repetitions of moderate intensity, twice a week for eight weeks. Group 2 (G2) performed identical exercises to G1, but performing 3 x 8-12 repetitions of 70% 1RM once a week to muscle failure. Group 3 (G3) acted as a non-active control. Sessions comprised of three exercises, effecting a total body workout. Absolute power increased in G1 from 1109 ± 205 W to 1244 ± 222 W and absolute strength increased from 231 ± 45 kg to 267 ± 34 kg from pre- to post-training. (P<0.05). Absolute power increased in G2 from 1008 ± 215 W to 1269 W ± 198 W and absolute strength increased from 201 ± 28 kg to 258 ± 34 kg from pre- to post-training. (P<0.01). There were no significant changes in power or strength in G3 (P>0.05). Increases in power and strength was significantly greater in G2 than G1 (P>0.01). The results demonstrated the higher intensity exercises achieved greater increases in power and strength than more traditionally recommended programmes.