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J Strength Cond Res. 2006 Aug;20(3):634-42.

Resistance training and detraining effects on flexibility performance in the elderly are intensity-dependent.

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  • 1Physical Education and Sports Sciences Department, Democritus University of Thrace, Komotini, Greece.


The present investigation attempted to determine whether resistance exercise intensity affects flexibility and strength performance in the elderly following a 6-month resistance training and detraining period. Fifty-eight healthy, inactive older men (65- 78 yrs) were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 groups: a control group (C, n = 10), a low-intensity resistance training group (LI, n = 14, 40% of 1 repetition maximum [1RM]), a moderate-intensity resistance training group (MI, n = 12, 60% of 1RM), or a high-intensity resistance training group (HI, n = 14, 80% of 1RM). Subjects in exercise groups followed a 3 days per week, whole-body (10 exercises, 3 sets per exercise) protocol for 24 weeks. Training was immediately followed by a 24-week detraining period. Strength (bench and leg press 1RM) and range of motion in trunk, elbow, knee, shoulder, and hip joints were measured at baseline and during training and detraining. Resistance training increased upper- (34% in LI, 48% in MI, and 75% in HI) and lower-body strength (38% in LI, 53% in MI, and 63% in HI) in an intensity-dependent manner. Flexibility demonstrated an intensity-dependent enhancement (3-12% in LI, 6-22% in MI, and 8-28% in HI). Detraining caused significant losses in strength (70-98% in LI, 44-50% in MI, and 27-29% in HI) and flexibility (90-110% in LI, 30-71% in MI, and 23-51% in HI) in an intensity-dependent manner. Results indicate that resistance training by itself improves flexibility in the aged. However, intensities greater than 60% of 1RM are more effective in producing flexibility gains, and strength improvement with resistance training is also intensity-dependent. Detraining seems to reverse training strength and flexibility gains in the elderly in an intensity-dependent manner.

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