Strength training improves the steadiness of slow lengthening contractions performed by old adults

Douglass H. Laidlaw, Kurt W. Kornatz, Douglas A. Keen, Shuji Suzuki, Roger M. Enoka*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    119 Citations (Scopus)


    When old adults participate in a strength-training program with heavy loads, they experience an increase in muscle strength and an improvement in the steadiness of submaximal isometric contractions. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of light- and heavy-load strength training on the ability of old adults to perform steady submaximal isometric and anisometric contractions. Thirty-two old adults (60-91 yr) participated in a 4-wk training program of a hand muscle. Both the light- and heavy-load groups increased one-repetition maximum and maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) strength and experienced similar improvements in the steadiness of the isometric and shortening and lengthening contractions. The increase in MVC strength was greater for the heavy-load group and could not be explained by changes in muscle activation. Before training, the lengthening contractions were less steady than the shortening contractions with the lightest loads (10% MVC). After training, there was no difference in steadiness between the shortening and lengthening contractions, except with the lightest load. These improvements were associated with a reduced level of muscle activation, especially during the lengthening contractions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1786-1795
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 1999 Nov


    • Aging
    • Finger movement
    • First dorsal interosseus
    • Tremor

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Physiology
    • Endocrinology
    • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
    • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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