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How many days a week does your grandfather have to train strength? This should be the training of the elderly

The strength training in older people is vital and there is growing awareness of its importance, but still little is known about the optimal dose of strength training in this population.

Appropriate levels of strength in elderly people are key

The aging process and the passage of years have a series of neurophysiological processes and events that cause people to lose muscle mass and strength, especially strength.

These processes include:

  • Denervation and atrophy of muscle fibers (type II)
  • Neuronal loss
  • Decreased motor neurons of the spinal cord and the ventral horn of the cord.
  • Decrease of motor units.

That is, we must consider dynapenia (loss of strength and physical performance associated with age, or functional loss of capacity to generate strength in the elderly) and sarcopenia (gradual loss of muscle mass), which if we had to return something would be the levels of force to the subject.

These processes occur over the years or yes, and the only thing that can reverse this process is physical exercise , and especially strength training.

A dynaphenia is not going to be reversed with a nutritional strategy (although inadequate nutrition can add to this process of neurophysiological deterioration), that is, a subject that is adequately nourished will not stop the dynaptic process with anything other than exercise physical and, above all, strength training.

A low strength in the elderly is associated with an increased risk of illness and deathfrom any cause, so strength training is vital throughout our lives, including this stage.

This could be the optimal dose of strength training in older people

Strength training is an intervention that is increasingly used to improve muscle strength and morphology in old age. However, dose-response relationships based on evidence regarding specific strength training variables (training period, frequency, intensity, volume, etc.) are not clear in healthy older adults (65 or older).

The objectives of a recent systematic review and meta-analysis were to determine the general effects of strength training on measures of muscle strength and morphology and to provide dose-response relationships of strength training variables in healthy older adults 65 years and older. old.

This review and meta-analysis included scientific articles published between 1984 and 2015, concluding, in general, that strength training substantially improves muscle strength (which is what matters most), but has small effects on morphology measurements muscle in this population.

Specifically, strength training produces great effects both on the maximum strength of the upper and lower extremities and an average effect on the maximum voluntary contraction of the lower extremities.

And now the doses come. This study reported that the variables of training period and intensity, as well as the total time under tension, have significant effects on muscle strength. More specifically, the supposedly optimal doses of a strength training program with the aim of increasing the muscular strength of healthy older adults are characterized by:

  • A training period of at least 50-53 weeks
  • A training intensity of 70-79% of the maximum repetition (1RM)
  • A time under tension of six seconds per repetition
  • A training frequency of two sessions per week
  • A training volume of two to three series per exercise
  • Some seven to nine repetitions per series
  • A rest of 60 seconds between series and four seconds between repetitions

In turn, it was revealed that none of the volume variables examined (training period, frequency, number of series, number of repetitions) predicted the effects of strength training on muscle morphology measurements.

However, it was also reported that strength training to improve muscle morphology seems to be effective using the following training variables computed independently:

  • A training period of at least 50-53 weeks
  • An intensity of 51 to 69% of the maximum repetition (1RM)
  • A time under tension of six seconds per repetition
  • A training frequency of three sessions per week
  • A training volume of two to three series per exercise
  • Some seven to nine repetitions per series
  • A rest of 120 seconds between series and two and a half seconds between repetitions

That is, to change the muscle morphology would change the variables intensity (lower percentage of the 1RM), frequency (one day more per week) and rest between sets and repetitions (longer between series and lower between repetitions).

Be careful, do not generalize

This study provides preliminary data for therapists, professionals and clinicians regarding the relevant variables of strength training and their dose-response relationships to improve muscle strength and morphology in healthy older adults.

The training period, intensity, time under tension and rest between sets play an important role in the improvement of muscle strength and morphology and should be implemented in training programs aimed at healthy seniors.

Even so, even if it is a systematic review and meta-analysis, which have the highest degree of scientific evidence, the results should be interpreted with caution.

Although the authors were able to determine a dose-response relationship based on specific variables of individual training with respect to muscle strength and morphology, it was not possible to determine the possible interactions between these variables.

Therefore, the results may not represent a general dose-response relationship. As it is well known, strength training must be individualized, and in older adults the same.

It is very good to try to find the most adequate doses but at the end of the day each person is and responds differently and the older person may be healthy, but there are also older adults with limited mobility and / or fragile who can also benefit from training of strength and may not be able to use the same doses.

These doses can serve as a starting point and we will have to continue researching the subject, but we must not forget that we must always individualize .

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