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).
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.
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.
All this ends up improving the health of these people for a longer period of time (1)
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.
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.
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.
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.
All the tests that we have described throughout the article have regulated values to assess the subjects
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- 10. Camiña Fernández, F., Cancela Carral, J.Mª, y Romo Pérez, V. (2001) “La prescripción del ejercicio físico para personas mayores: valores normativos de la condición física”. Revista Internacional de Medicina y Ciencias de la Actividad Física y el Deporte vol. 1 (2) p. 136-154
- 11. Rikli, R. y Jones, C. (2001). Senior fitness test manual. Estados Unidos de América. Human Kinetics.
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