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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1999 Oct;47(10):1208-14.

Once-weekly resistance exercise improves muscle strength and neuromuscular performance in older adults.

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Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Palo Alto, California, USA.



To determine the effect of frequency of resistive training on gain in muscle strength and neuromuscular performance in healthy older adults.


A randomized controlled trial with subjects assigned either to high-intensity resistance training 1 (EX1), 2 (EX2), or 3 (EX3) days per week for 24 weeks or to a control group (CO).


An exercise facility at an academic medical center.


Forty-six community-dwelling healthy men (n = 29) and women (n = 17) aged 65 to 79 years.


Progressive resistance training consisting of three sets of eight exercises targeting major muscle groups of the upper and lower body, at 80% of one-repetition maximum (1-RM) for eight repetitions, either 1, 2, or 3 days per week.


Dynamic muscle strength (1-RM) using isotonic equipment every 4 weeks, bone mineral density and body composition by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and neuromuscular performance by timed chair rise and 6-meter backward tandem walk.


For each of the eight exercises, muscle strength increased in the exercise groups relative to CO (P < .01), with no difference among EX1, EX2 and EX3 groups at any measurement interval. Percent change averaged 3.9 +/- 2.4 (CO), 37.0 +/- 15.2 (EX1), 41.9 +/- 18.2 (EX2), and 39.7 +/- 9.8 (EX3). The time to rise successfully from the chair 5 times decreased significantly (P < .01) at 24 weeks, whereas improvement in the 6-meter backward tandem walk approached significance (P = .10) in the three exercise groups compared with CO. Changes in chair rise ability were correlated to percent changes in quadriceps strength (r = -0.40, P < .01) and lean mass (r = -0.40, P < .01).


A program of once or twice weekly resistance exercise achieves muscle strength gains similar to 3 days per week training in older adults and is associated with improved neuromuscular performance. Such improvement could potentially reduce the risk of falls and fracture in older adults.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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