Training load does not affect detraining's effect on muscle volume, muscle strength and functional capacity among older adults

Evelien Van Roie, Simon Walker, Stijn Van Driessche, Remco Baggen, Walter Coudyzer, Ivan Bautmans, Christophe Delecluse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Research underlines the potential of low-load resistance exercise in older adults. However, while the effects of detraining from high-load protocols have been established, it is not known whether gains from low-load training would be better/worse maintained. The current study evaluated the effects of 24weeks of detraining that followed 12weeks of high- and low-load resistance exercise in older adults. Fifty-six older adults (68.0±5.0years) were randomly assigned to leg press and leg extension training at either HIGH load (2×10-15 repetitions at 80% of one-repetition maximum (1-RM)), LOW load (1×80-100 repetitions at 20% of 1-RM), or LOW+ load (1×60 repetitions at 20% of 1-RM, immediately followed by 1×10-20 repetitions at 40% 1-RM). All protocols ended with volitional fatigue. The main outcome measures included mid-thigh muscle volume, leg press 1-RM, leg extension isometric and isokinetic strength, and functional performance. Tests were performed at baseline, post-intervention and after 24weeks of detraining. Results show no effect of load on preservation of muscle volume, which returned to baseline after detraining. Training-induced gains in functional capacity and isometric strength were maintained, independent of load. HIGH and LOW+ were more beneficial than LOW for long-lasting gains in training-specific 1-RM. To conclude, gains in muscle volume are reversed after 24weeks of detraining, independent of load. This emphasises the need for long-term resistance exercise adherence. The magnitude of detraining in neuromuscular and functional adaptations was similar between groups. These findings underline the value of low-load resistance exercise in older age. Clinical Trial Registration NCT01707017.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-37
Number of pages8
JournalExperimental Gerontology
Early online date1 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


  • Elderly
  • Muscle hypertrophy
  • Resistance exercise
  • Sarcopenia
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Age Factors
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Organ Size
  • Male
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Exercise Test
  • Resistance Training/methods
  • Belgium
  • Time Factors
  • Aging
  • Female
  • Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal/diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle Fatigue
  • Muscle Strength
  • Hypertrophy


Dive into the research topics of 'Training load does not affect detraining's effect on muscle volume, muscle strength and functional capacity among older adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this