Aging Clinical and Experimental Research

, Volume 30, Issue 8, pp 959–968 | Cite as

Functional capacity improves in-line with neuromuscular performance after 12 weeks of non-linear periodization strength training in the elderly

  • Bruno Monteiro de Moura
  • Raphael Luiz Sakugawa
  • Lucas Bet da Rosa Orssatto
  • Luis Antonio Pereira de Lima
  • Ronei Silveira Pinto
  • Simon Walker
  • Fernando Diefenthaeler
Original Article



While it is accepted that resistance training can improve functional capacity in older individuals, the neuromuscular source of this improvement has yet to be identified.


This study investigated the link between improved neuromuscular performance and functional capacity after a 12-week resistance training period in untrained healthy older individuals.


Fifteen older men and women (60–71 years) adhered to a 4-week control period, followed by 12 weeks of non-linear resistance training for the lower limbs. Maximum dynamic leg press strength (1-RM), maximum isometric knee extension torque and rate of torque development (RTD) were evaluated at − 4, 0, 4, 8, and 12 weeks, and muscle activity was assessed at 0, 4, 8, and 12 weeks. Functional capacity tests (chair rise, stair ascent and descent, and timed up and go) were performed at − 4, 0, and 12 weeks.


No changes occurred during the control period, but the group increased their 1-RM strength (from 142 ± 53 to 198 ± 43 kg, p = 0.001), which was accompanied by an increase in vastus lateralis activation (p = 0.008) during the intervention. Increase was observed at all RTD time intervals at week 8 (p < 0.05). Significant improvements in all the functional capacity tests were observed at week 12 (p < 0.05).


Despite the expected increase in strength, RTD, muscle activity, and functional capacity, there was no significant relationship between the changes in neuromuscular performance and functional capacity. While resistance training elicits various positive improvements in healthy older individuals, actual strength gain did not influence the gain in functional capacity.


The present study highlights the exact cause that improved the functional capabilities during resistance training are currently unknown.


Strength training Rate of torque development Aging Timed up and go Chair rise 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

On behalf of all the authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Ethical approval was obtained from the local Human Research Ethics Committee (CAAE: 25995714.0.0000.0121), and the protocol was written in accordance with the standards set by the Declaration of Helsinki.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratório de Biomecânica, Centro de DesportosUniversidade Federal de Santa CatarinaFlorianópolisBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratório de Pesquisa do Exercício, Escola de Educação Física, Fisioterapia e DançaUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  3. 3.Neuromuscular Research Center, Faculty of Sport and Health SciencesUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

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