An investigation of differences in strength, power and functional capacity in a sample of resistance-trained versus untrained subjects, 18 to 80 years old

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Exercise and Sport Sciences

First Committee Member

Joseph Signorile - Committee Chair


Since the percentage of the American population over the age of 65 has been increasing rapidly, it is important that strategies that can reduce or prevent age-related dysfunction and to help older individuals preserve their independence with advancing age. Resistance training has been shown to have a positive impact on neuromuscular functioning, as well as activities of daily living (ADL), instrumental activities of daily living (IADL) and mobility. The purpose of this study was twofold. First, to examine the differences in isokinetic strength and power in a group of resistance-trained versus untrained individuals, ages 18 to 80, years of age. Second, to compare performance using a number of functional measures including stand-up and walking speeds, agility, balance to ascertain the impact of the age and training. One hundred and fifty-six (156) healthy males and females, aged 18 to 80 years old, participated in the study. Subjects were stratified as to age, gender and training status. The subjects performed isokinetic strength and power testing of the knee, elbow and ankle joints. They also completed functional testing for strength, power, agility, endurance, flexibility and balance. Results indicated significant differences between trained and untrained subjects in knee extension and flexion across age blocks, which tended to converge in the higher age groups especially at the higher testing speeds. There were no significant differences in elbow flexion and extension between trained and untrained men, but differences were seen between trained and untrained women. These gender-specific differences were expected given previously reported differences in upper body strength of males and females. There were significant differences seen in ankle plantar flexion for men and women in the younger age blocks, but no differences in ankle dorsiflexion between trained and untrained subjects. Functional performance tests resulted in significant differences between trained and untrained subjects in walking speed, chair stand test, arm curl test and gallon jug test for both men and women. These results suggest that resistance training is beneficial in maintaining or reversing the impact of age on neuromuscular function and that they can translate into increased independence, balance and mobility throughout the aging process.


Education, Tests and Measurements; Gerontology; Education, Physical

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