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What does current research say about slow resistance training for older adults?



Older-adult clients often need to increase their strength. Current resistance training guidelines recommend loads between 60% and 80% of one-repetition maximum, which may not be realistic for some. A possible alternative or addition is slow resistance body-weight training (SRT-BW).

Researchers hypothesized that as few as three body-weight exercises (squat, modified pushup, abdominal crunch) performed slowly (4 seconds eccentric, 4 seconds concentric) could improve muscle mass, strength and fat distribution in seniors. Forty-two subjects (25 males, 17 females), 70 years old or older, trained for 12 weeks. One session per week was supervised, and participants were asked to perform SRT-BW every day (2 sets of 10 reps to start, progressing by 2 reps for each move every 4 weeks).

By the end of the trial, subjects saw improvements in muscle mass (thigh-muscle thickness), strength (knee extension, hip flexion) and body composition (abdominal fat, thigh-fat thickness and waist circumference), compared with baseline. Trainers may want to implement some type of in-home SRT-BW training days to improve strength in older-adult clients.

REFERENCE: Tsuzuku, S., et al. 2018. Slow movement resistance training using body weight improves muscle mass in the elderly: A randomized controlled trial. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Sports in Science, 28 (4), 1339–44.

Meet our experts

AFM_Author_Nunez TONY P. NUÑEZ, PHD, is an assistant professor in exercise science at Metropolitan State University of Denver. He is an active researcher and presenter in the exercise physiology and fitness field.

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