Progressive strength training can lead to substantial increases in maximal strength and mass of trained muscles, even in older women and men, but little information is available about the effects of strength training on functional capabilities and balance. Thus, the effects of 21 weeks of heavy resistance training-including lower loads performed with high movement velocities-twice a week on isometric maximal force (ISOmax) and force-time curve (force produced in 500 milliseconds, F0-500) and dynamic 1 repetition maximum (1RM) strength of the leg extensors, 10-m walking time (10WALK) and dynamic balance test (DYN.D) were investigated in 26 middle-aged (MI; 52.8 +/- 2.4 years) and 22 older women (O; 63.8 +/- 3.8 years). 1RM, ISOmax, and F0-500 increased significantly in MI by 28 +/- 10%, 20 +/- 19%, 31 +/- 34%, and in O by 27 +/- 8%, 20 +/- 16%, 18 +/- 45%, respectively. 10WALK (MI and O, p < 0.001) shortened and DYN.D improved (MI and O, p < 0.001). The present strength-training protocol led to large increases in maximal and explosive strength characteristics of leg extensors and in walking speed, as well to an improvement in the present dynamic balance test performance in both age groups. Although training-induced increase in explosive strength is an important factor for aging women, there are other factors that contribute to improvements in dynamic balance capacity. This study indicates that total body heavy resistance training, including explosive dynamic training, may be applied in rehabilitation or preventive exercise protocols in aging women to improve dynamic balance capabilities.
(C) 2006 National Strength and Conditioning Association