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Improvement in functional performance with high-speed power training in older adults is optimized in those with the highest training velocity



To identify whether variability in limb movement velocity during high-speed power training (HSPT) may impact physical functioning in older adults.


42 older men and women (71.3 ± 6.6 years) were randomized to lower extremity HSPT (n = 28) or control (CON; n = 14) (Analysis 1) for 12 weeks. A second analysis (Analysis 2) allocated HSPT into high-velocity (n = 14) or low-velocity (n = 14) based on a limb movement speed above or below the median average velocity during the 12-week HSPT intervention. Habitual gait speed, maximal gait speed, timed up-and-go, and the short physical performance battery were measured at baseline and 12 weeks. Change scores were compared between HSPT and CON (Analysis 1), and high-velocity, low-velocity, and CON (Analysis 2) using ANCOVA. Statistical significance was accepted at p < 0.05.


Analysis 1 There were no group differences in habitual gait speed, maximal gait speed, or timed up-and-go between HSPT and CON (all p > 0.05). Short physical performance battery was greater in HSPT (0.96 ± 0.19) compared to CON (0.10 ± 0.26; p = 0.01). Analysis 2 There were no group differences in the change in habitual GS (p = 0.33) among high-velocity, low-velocity and CON. There were significant group differences in the change in maximal GS (p = 0.007), timed up-and-go (p = 0.03), and short physical performance battery (p = 0.03).


There is considerable variation in self-selected maximal limb velocity during HSPT in older adults. In the present cohort, an average limb velocity of 0.88 m/s during HSPT was necessary to ensure optimal improvement in functional performance for older adults, but this threshold will need further investigation.

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Fig. 1



One-repetition maximum


Analysis of covariance


Average velocity


Body mass index




Geriatric depression scale


Gait speed (habitual and maximal)


High-velocity training group within HSPT with limb movement speed >0.88 m/s


High-speed power training


Intraclass correlation


Knee extension


Low-velocity training group within HSPT with limb movement speed <0.88 m/s


Leg press


Number of medications taken


Mini-mental state examination


Resistance training


Short physical performance battery


Timed up-and-go


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Data from this study were supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging R03-AG025141-01 and the Arthritis Foundation.

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Correspondence to Stephen P. Sayers.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Communicated by Jean-René Lacour.

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Sayers, S.P., Gibson, K. & Bryan Mann, J. Improvement in functional performance with high-speed power training in older adults is optimized in those with the highest training velocity. Eur J Appl Physiol 116, 2327–2336 (2016).

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  • Average velocity
  • Power training
  • Aging
  • Functional performance