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Older Adults See Strength Improvements With Lighter Weights

In many fitness facilities, “go heavy or go home” is the theme du jour. But if you work with older adults, researchers suggest, it’s time to dust off those light weights.

The study featured 68 adults aged 55 and older who either participated in a 26-week training program or served as nonexercise control subjects. The training group completed a twice-per-week BODYPUMP™ workout that featured lighter weights and a high number of repetitions. At baseline and after 26 weeks, participants performed a leg press and a Smith machine bench press (both 1-RM) to determine strength levels; underwent gait speed and balance tests; and offered self-reported health assessments.

The exercise group registered improvements in all measures except self-reported health status. Leg and bench press improved by 13% and 14%, respectively; gait speed by 23%; and single-leg balance by 24%.

“Low-load high-repetition resistance training in the form of BODYPUMP is effective at improving maximal strength, gait speed and some aspects of standing balance in adults over 55 years,” the researchers stated. “The training was well tolerated by the majority of participants.”

This study appeared in the
Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport (2015; 18 [5], 596–600).

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