Resistance Exercise Dosage in Older Adults: Single- Versus Multiset Effects on Physical Performance and Body Composition

Document Type

Journal Article




Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science




This article was originally published as: Galvao, D. A., & Taaffe, D. (2005). Resistance exercise dosage in older adults: Single- versus multiset effects on physical performance and body composition. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 53(12), 2090-2097. Original article available here


Objectives: To determine whether variation in resistance exercise volume affects muscle function and physical performance response in older adults. Design: A randomized trial with subjects assigned to a single-set (1-SET) or three-set (3-SET) exercise group. Setting: An exercise facility at the University of Queensland. Participants: Twenty-eight community-dwelling men and women aged 65 to 78. Intervention: Progressive resistance training consisting of seven exercises targeting the major muscle groups of the upper and lower body performed on exercise machines twice weekly for 20 weeks at eight-repetition maximum (RM) intensity. Measurements: Muscle function included isotonic muscle strength (1-RM) of the seven exercises, isokinetic and isometric knee extensor strength, and muscle endurance for the chest press and leg press exercises. Physical performance included timed chair rise, usual and fast 6-m walk, 6-m backwards walk, 400 m walk, floor rise to standing, and stair climbing ability. In addition, body composition was determined using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. Results: Isotonic muscle strength increased in both exercise groups for all seven exercises (Po.01), with the gain in the 3-SET group greater (Po.05) for the seated row, triceps extension, and knee extension (analysis of covariance). Similarly, muscle endurance gains were greater for the 3-SET than the 1-SET group (Po.01), with no significant difference between groups for isokinetic and isometric knee extensor strength. Both groups improved (Po.05) in the chair rise (1-SET, 10.1%; 3-SET, 13.6%), 6-m backwards walk (1-SET, 14.3%; 3-SET, 14.8%), 400-m walk (1-SET, 3.8%; 3-SET, 7.4%), and stair climbing test (1-SET, 7.7%; 3-SET, 6.4%), with the only difference between groups for the 400-m walk (Po.05). There was no difference between groups for change in body composition. Conclusion: Resistance training consisting of only single-set exercises is sufficient to significantly enhance muscle function and physical performance, although muscle strength and endurance gains are greater with highervolume work. These findings have application in designing time-efficient exercise regimens to enhance neuromuscular function in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc 53:2090–2097, 2005.




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