The consequences of resistance training for movement control in older adults

B.K. Barry, Richard Carson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


Older adults who undertake resistance training are typically seeking to maintain or increase their muscular strength with the goal of preserving or improving their functional capabilities. The extent to which resistance training adaptations lead to improved performance on tasks of everyday living is not particularly well understood. Indeed, studies examining changes in functional task performance experienced by older adults following periods of resistance training have produced equivocal findings. A clear understanding of the principles governing the transfer of resistance training adaptations is therefore critical in seeking to optimize the prescription of training regimes that have as their aim the maintenance and improvement of functional movement capacities in older adults. The degenerative processes that occur in the aging motor system are likely to influence heavily any adaptations to resistance training and the subsequent transfer to functional task performance. The resulting characteristics of motor behavior, such as the substantial decline in the rate of force development and the decreased steadiness of force production, may entail that specialized resistance training strategies are necessary to maximize the benefits for older adults. In this review, we summarize the alterations in the neuromuscular system that are responsible for the declines in strength, power, and force control, and the subsequent deterioration in the everyday movement capabilities of older adults. We examine the literature concerning the neural adaptations that older adults experience in response to resistance training, and consider the readiness with which these adaptations will improve the functional movement capabilities of older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)730-754
Number of pages25
JournalJournals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing


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