Functional capacity improves in-line with neuromuscular performance after 12 weeks of non-linear periodization strength training in the elderly
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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.
KeywordsStrength 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 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 was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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