Differences in Maximum Upper and Lower Limb Strength in Older Adults After a 12 Week Intense Resistance Training Program

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Nelson Sousa, Romeu Mendes, Catarina Abrantes, Jaime Sampaio

The purpose of this study was to identify differences in maximum strength after an intense strength training program, contrasting muscle groups from upper limbs versus lower limbs. The sample consisted of 10 healthy elderly males (age 73±6 years) with independent living. The training program lasted 12 weeks (3 × week, 50 to 80% of 1RM, 2-3 sets, 6 to 12 repetitions). Two muscle groups were analyzed: LOWER (sum of average values of three exercises for the lower limbs) and UPPER (sum of average values of four exercises for the upper limbs). Measurement of 1RM was performed at intervals of 4 weeks by direct methods. Repeated measures ANOVA identified significant differences in muscle groups (F=8.1, p=0.006), time (F=730.0 p=0.000) and also their interaction (F=4.4, p=0.014). The gains in 1RM values were higher for upper limbs. These results may suggest that the muscles of the lower limbs are elicited more frequently and therefore, have a smaller potential to gain strength at older age. The muscles of the upper limbs are in accelerated muscle atrophy and their trainability is probably higher.
DOI: 10.2478/v10078-011-0086-x
Key words
aging, upper limbs, lower limbs, muscle atrophy, exercise

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