Original Article

European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 429-435

First online:

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

  • Dale I. LovellAffiliated withSchool of Health and Sport Sciences, The University of the Sunshine Coast Email author 
  • , Ross CuneoAffiliated withDepartment of Diabetes and Endocrinology, Princess Alexandra Hospital
  • , Greg C. GassAffiliated withFaculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University

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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 training Maximum force Rate of force development Detraining