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05.12.2011


Should the over-seventies do weight training with light or heavy weights?

Strength training is good for elderly people. No one disputes that. But researchers still don't agree about which approach has the best effect. Should the elderly train with heavy or lighter weights? According to sports scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University, it depends on what you want to achieve with strength training.

The researchers actually wanted to know what the effects of timed supplementation were on elderly people who did strength training. In the scientific journal Age they describe an experiment in which they got 29 people in their seventies to train three times a week.

Before every workout the researchers gave their subjects 26 g fast carbs in the form of a sports drink, and after each workout 22 g amino acids. The products used were Lucozade [from GlaxoSmithKline] and Holland & Barrett's Body Fortress.

Men in their fifties recover just as quickly from strength training as men in their twenties
The subjects only trained their lower body, doing calf-presses, leg-presses and leg-extensions.

Half of the subjects trained with 40 percent of the amount with which they could do just one rep [SUP_LowR]; the other half trained with 80 percent of the One Rep Max [SUP_HighR].

After 12 weeks the SUP_HighR group had built up more strength than the SUP_LowR group.


Should the over-seventies do weight training with light or heavy weights?


Interestingly, the muscles of the subjects that trained with heavier weights did not become bigger. But the muscles of the over-seventies in the group that trained at 40 percent of the 1RM did grow.


Should the over-seventies do weight training with light or heavy weights?


The researchers also did tests to see whether the subjects functioned better in their daily lives as a result of doing the strength training. Were they able to get up out of a chair quicker? Could they run further in six minutes? Again, this was only the case in the subjects that had trained at 40 percent of their 1RM.

Should the over-seventies do weight training with light or heavy weights?
"Previous studies in older adults have shown that provision of dietary supplements has not been effective in improving lean body mass", the researchers write.

"Our data suggest that different adaptations may occur when combining exercise (intensity) and essential amino acids ingestion. We propose that in the older age group (a) in the presence of relatively low exercise levels, muscle strengthening is significant and there is no impairment in protein synthesis and functional ability is improved, (b) if exercise intensity is high the observed pronounced muscle strengthening appears to favour other, nonhypertrophic as yet unidentified factors."

Source:
Age (Dordr). 2010 Jun;32(2):125-38.

More:
Training more often builds more muscle in the elderly 02.12.2011