Strength Training for the Elderly

Strength Training for the Elderly

Let’s analyze the features of the Strength Training for the elderly. Moreover, we will talk about the importance of training at this age and its benefits

Above all, strength training will increase the strength and muscle mass. In fact, both young and older people will significantly increase their explosive strength (1).

Now, we will list a series of studies that have reported a significant increase in strength and muscle mass in old people

Effects of training on strength

Several studies have proven that if we want to increase our strength we will need to reach a certain intensity and duration (2-5)

However, when it comes to assessing the effect of physical exercise in the elderly, they have mainly used aerobic exercise.

Due to this, the number of studies about strength routines on older people has increased. In fact, it is now considered a fundamental part of the workout

Benefits of Strength Training for the Elderly

Some of the benefits are, for instance:

  • Correcting walking problems;
  • Preventing falls;
  • Making daily tasks easier;
  • Improving joint mobility.

Old woman weightlifting

All this ends up improving the health of these people for a longer period of time (1)

Above all, one of the most important points of the Strength Training for the elderly is, without any doubt, fighting against sarcopenia

Neuronal adaptations to training

Several studies suggest that by increasing the strength, weightlifting is connected to an adaptation process of the nervous system. Perhaps, this is due to the activation of the agonist muscles or due to changes in the patterns of antagonist muscle activation (6-8).

In fact, during the first weeks of training, the nervous activation is one of the determining factors in strength development.

However, from the 5-6 week onward, the hypertrophy prevails over the neural factors (6-8, 9)

How to assess the strength on the elderly

Currently, there are a series of different physical test to assess the physical condition

Now, we will explain the tests regarding the muscle strength included in the different sections:

Physical fitness assessment for older adults (10)

This test has been designed to measure six physical capacities and it is made up of eight physical tests. There are two tests that measure the muscle strength:

  • Hand pressure maximum strength: This test measures the isometric strength of each hand.
  • Lower body maximum strength: The objective of this test is to measure the strength of the lower body.

Hand gripper

Test to measure the strength by using a “hand gripper”

Senior Fitness Test (11)

This part was designed to assess the physical condition of people between the ages of 60 and 94. Its reference values are expressed in percentiles for each one of the tests.

In this case we have another two tests:

  • Chair stand test: Above all, this one will measure the strength applied by the lower body.
  • Arm Curl test: Then, this test will assess the strength of the upper body.

Biceps curl test


The AFISAL-INEFC was designed by the project AFISAC (Physical Activity and Health for Adults in Catalunya). In fact, it was developed in the Institut Nacional d’Educació Física de Catalunya from 1992 to 1995.

In this battery, there are three tests that evaluate the strength:

  • Pressure maximum strength: First, this test measures the isometric strength of each hand.
  • Abdominal strength-resistance: On the other hand, this test assesses the strength of the abdomen.
  • Lower body explosive strength: Finally, this one measures the explosive strength of the lower body, with free synchronization of the upper body.

Conclusions about Strength Training for the Elderly

The current research state that older people can obtain a significantly increase their ability to produce maximum and explosive strength

In fact, this will be mainly due to the structural adaptation of trained muscles. Nevertheless, this will be due specific functional adaptations of the nervous system (1).

In this battery of tests there are tests to assess the strength of both the lower and upper body.

When it comes to assessing the strength, it is important to use regulated reference values. Therefore, this will help professionals to evaluate and compare older adults with the general population in terms of age and sex (13)

Physical exercise for the elderly

All the tests that we have described throughout the article have regulated values to assess the subjects


Studies 1-6

Studies 7-13

Related Entries

Strength Training for the Elderly Review

Reduce risk of injuries - 100%

More strength - 100%

Better functionality - 100%

Against sarcopenia - 100%


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About Alfredo Valdés
Alfredo Valdés
He is a specialist in metabolic physiopathology training and in the biomolecular effects of food and physical exercise.
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