gms | German Medical Science

Physical activity and successful aging
10th International EGREPA Conference

European Group for Research into Elderly and Physical Activity

14.09. - 16.09.2006 in Köln

The applicability and effects of the bodybuilding-method in strength training with elderly

Meeting Abstract

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  • corresponding author H. Unger - University of Bonn, Germany
  • P. Preuss - University of Bonn, Germany
  • H. Mechling - German Sport University Cologne, Germany

Physical activity and successful aging. Xth International EGREPA Conference. Cologne, 14.-16.09.2006. Düsseldorf, Köln: German Medical Science; 2006. Doc06pasa028

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Veröffentlicht: 18. Dezember 2006

© 2006 Unger et al.
Dieser Artikel ist ein Open Access-Artikel und steht unter den Creative Commons Lizenzbedingungen ( Er darf vervielfältigt, verbreitet und öffentlich zugänglich gemacht werden, vorausgesetzt dass Autor und Quelle genannt werden.




The effects of a hypertrophy orientated high intensity training (HIT) - by using bodybuilding techniques - on maximal strength and performances of activity of daily living has not been discussed in sport science so far.


Subjects: 30 subjects (female=15, male=15, age: 62.3 ± 5.81 years) with experience in strength training. Treatment: The training programme consisted of 8 exercises, 3 times a week for 6 weeks, with a repetition maximum (RM) between 10 and 12. After 2 warm-up sets the HIT group (n=15; female=6, male=9) performed one set to the point of concentric muscle failure using the intensity techniques part repetition and isotension principle (Giessing 2002). The control group (CON; n=15; female=9, male=6) executed only one training set to the point of concentric muscle failure after 2 warm-up sets. Tests: The changes in maximum strength were documented by using a modified maximum strength test (10-12 RM), those in ADL by means of chair rising and step climbing.


Both groups improved their performance significantly (p<0.001) in all strength tests. The improvements of the HIT group were significantly greater (p<0.05) in biceps curl and triceps press and also significant (p<0.01) in leg press, lat pulldown and bench press. The test exercise leg extension shows no difference between groups.

On the one hand, the ADL tests show significant (p<0.001) improvements in all tests in the HIT; on the other hand the CON only improved their achievements significantly (p<0.05) in chair rising and step climbing right whereas the slight improvement in step climbing left was not significant. There are also highly significant (p<0.01; step climbing right and left, p<0.001; chair rising) improvements in the HIT.


The average percentage of strength gains in both groups is comparable to average strength gains in studies which tested an high intensity strength training with at least 50 year-olds (51.62%; compare Goebel, 2002, p.95). There are outstanding improvements as to the results of the strength and ADL tests in the HIT (with the exception of the exercise leg curl).

One reason for these observations could be that the energy resources are more depleted by applying intensive techniques after the concentric muscle failure (Schlumberger & Schmidtbleicher, 1999; Zatsiorsky 1996). It can be stated that the consequent use of intensity techniques in old age-training is possible and efficient for trained elderly.


In this 6 week-study a HIT led to more strength gains than a training which was finished by the momentary concentric muscle failure. Besides checking possible factors of risk (such as cardio-vascular events, load of bones or joints), future studies should examine the medium term effects of HIT (2-4 months). Moreover it makes sense to compare the HIT system to the so-called high volume training.