It is unclear whether strength training (ST) or power training (PT) is the more effective intervention at improving muscle strength and power and physical function in older adults. The authors compared the effects of lower extremity PT with those of ST on muscle strength and power in 45 older adults (74.8 ± 5.7 yr) with self-reported difficulty in common daily activities. Participants were randomized to 1 of 3 treatment groups: PT, ST, or wait-list control. PT and ST trained 3 times/wk for 12 wk using knee-extension (KE) and leg-press (LP) machines at ~70% of 1-repetition maximum (1RM). For PT, the concentric phase of the KE and LP was completed “as fast as possible,” whereas for ST the concentric phase was 2–3 s. Both PT and ST paused briefly at the midpoint of the movement and completed the eccentric phase of the movement in 2–3 s. PT and ST groups showed significant improvements in KE and LP 1RM compared with the control group. Maximum KE and LP power increased approximately twofold in PT compared with ST. At 12 wk, compared with control, maximum KE and LP power were significantly increased for the PT group but not for the ST group. In older adults with compromised function, PT leads to similar increases in strength and larger increases in power than ST.
Marsh, Rejeski, and Hutton are with the Dept. of Health and Exercise Science; Miller, the Dept. of Biostatistical Sciences; and Kritchevsky, the Dept. of Internal Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC 27109-7868.