Over the past century, increases in both longevity and the number of older adults in the U.S.A. have given rise to greater numbers of functionally limited and disabled older adults. This has resulted in a decline in the quality of life of our elderly population, as well as an increased burden on our health care system. Resistance training (RT) with a strengthening component has traditionally been recommended to improve health and physical functioning in older adults. Muscle power (force + velocity), or the ability to produce force rapidly, has recently emerged as an important predictor of functioning in older men and women and has been the current focus of many RT studies. In this review, the physiological changes that contribute to the declines in muscle strength and power with aging will first be examined, followed by a discussion of the prevailing theories behind the use of traditional RT in older men and women. The rationale for high-velocity RT will then be explored, and the recent literature on novel training interventions designed to improve muscle power in older adults will be discussed. Finally, some preliminary evidence demonstrating the benefits of high-velocity power training in older men and women will be presented.
(C) 2007 National Strength and Conditioning Association