European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 429–435

The effect of strength training and short-term detraining on maximum force and the rate of force development of older men


    • School of Health and Sport SciencesThe University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Ross Cuneo
    • Department of Diabetes and EndocrinologyPrincess Alexandra Hospital
  • Greg C. Gass
    • Faculty of Health Sciences and MedicineBond University
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00421-010-1375-0

Cite this article as:
Lovell, D.I., Cuneo, R. & Gass, G.C. Eur J Appl Physiol (2010) 109: 429. doi:10.1007/s00421-010-1375-0


This study examined the effect of strength training (ST) and short-term detraining on maximum force and rate of force development (RFD) in previously sedentary, healthy older men. Twenty-four older men (70–80 years) were randomly assigned to a ST group (n = 12) and C group (control, n = 12). Training consisted of three sets of six to ten repetitions on an incline squat at 70–90% of one repetition maximum three times per week for 16 weeks followed by 4 weeks of detraining. Regional muscle mass was assessed before and after training by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. Training increased RFD, maximum bilateral isometric force, and force in 500 ms, upper leg muscle mass and strength above pre-training values (14, 25, 22, 7, 90%, respectively; P < 0.05). After 4 weeks detraining all neuromuscular variables were significantly (P < 0.05) lower than after 16 weeks training but remained significantly (P < 0.05) higher than pre-training levels except for RFD which had returned to pre-training levels. These findings demonstrate that high-intensity ST can improve maximum force and RFD of older men. However, older individuals may lose some neuromuscular performance after a period of short-term detraining and that resistance exercise should be performed on a regular basis to maintain training adaptations.


Strength trainingMaximum forceRate of force developmentDetraining

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© Springer-Verlag 2010