Effects of high-resistance circuit training in an elderly population

Document Type

Journal Article




Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science


School of Exercise and Health Sciences/Centre for Exercise and Sports Science Research




This article was originally published as: Romero-Arenas, S., Blazevich, A. J., Martínez-Pascual, M., Pérez-Gómez, J., Luque, A., López-Román, F., & Alcaraz, P. (2013). Effects of high-resistance circuit training in an elderly population. Experimental Gerontology, 48(3), 334-340. Original article available here


The aim of this study was to determine the efficacy of a program of high-resistance circuit (HRC) training, and to compare the effects of HRC to traditional heavy strength (TS) training on strength, muscle size, body composition and measures of cardiovascular fitness in a healthy elderly population. Thirty-seven healthy men and women (61.6. ±. 5.3. years) were randomly assigned to HRC (n. =. 16), TS (n. =. 14), or a control group (CG, n. =. 7). Training consisted of weight lifting twice a week for 12. weeks. Before and after the training, isokinetic peak torque in the upper and lower body, and body composition (dual X-ray absorptiometry) were determined. In addition, cardiovascular parameters were evaluated during an incremental treadmill test. Both HRC and TS groups showed significant increases in isokinetic strength (p<. 0.001), and the increase was significantly greater in the experimental groups than in CG (p<. 0.03). There were significant increases in lean mass (HRC, p<. 0.001; TS, p=. 0.025) and bone mineral density (HRC, p=. 0.025; TS, p=. 0.018) in the experimental groups. Only HRC showed a significant decrease in fat mass (p=. 0.011); this decrease was significantly greater in HRC than in CG (p=. 0.039). There were significant improvements in walking economy in the HRC group (p<. 0.049), although there were no statistical differences between groups. There were no changes in any variables in CG. Hence, HRC training was as effective as TS for improving isokinetic strength, bone mineral density and lean mass. Only HRC training elicited adaptations in the cardiovascular system and a decrease in fat mass.