Demographic data indicate that the populations of most nations are growing older. A deterioration of skeletal muscle function is the main consequence of ageing. Muscular strength and power gradually decrease with age and this decline accelerates after the age of 60–65 yrs (Häkkinen et al., 1995, EJAP, 70, 518–527). Resistance training improves muscle force production and contributes for maintaining functional autonomy in elderly. The aim of our study was to analyse the effects of an 8-week resistance training program on muscle force production and functional autonomy in older individuals. Forty-seven elderly (69 ± 4y) volunteered for the study and were randomly assigned into two groups: Experimental Group (EG: n = 27, 10 males and 17 females) and Control Group (CG: n = 20, 9 males and 11 females). Before and after the training intervention all participants performed tests of functional autonomy in accordance to GDLAM protocol and 1RM estimation. EG performed a personalised and individualised training (three times weekly; 60–80% 1RM, 3 sets of 6 to 15 reps) in a circuit. A related samples t-test was used to analyse functional autonomy and 1RM performance pre-post 8-wk training intervention and independent t-tests and 1-way with repeated measures ANOVA to compare differences between EG and CG groups. There was no difference before intervention between groups. After completing the 8-wk intervention, autonomy GDLAM index and 1RM performances improved significantly for EG (as males as females participants) group, respectively (p < 0.05; p < 0.001) compared to CG (did not improve at all) showing a higher improvement in females (60%; p < 0.001) compared to males (50%; p < 0.01). This study highlights the benefit of a specific training program for preventive and rehabilitative strategies in elderly by improving functional autonomy and muscle strength.
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