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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The response of older women to strength training and its relationship to physical self-efficacy Haydock, Eleanor


The effects of weight training on the strength, power and size of arm flexor muscles in older women and the relationship between physical self-efficacy and changes in strength and power were investigated. Being reasonably strong is clearly desirable for older women to be able to live independently and safely; both strength and power are important. Although most older people living alone are women, very little research has been concerned with strength or power, or with training for strength, in older women. A 2 (experimental and control groups) x 2 (before and after training) experimental design was used. Subjects (N = 68) were randomly assigned to the 2 groups. Right arm strength (6RM), peak power, fat-free cross-sectional area (FCA), and Physical Self-efficacy (PSE) were measured before and after 12 weeks training, which was carried out at home. The experimental group trained elbow flexors 3 times a week, using dumbells; the control group trained for increased flexibility, for a similar amount of time weekly. For various reasons (no-shows, drop-outs, medical, incomplete cases) only 50 cases were available for analysis, 30 in the experimental group and 20 in the control group. Eighteen of these 50 subjects had initially reported minor disorders such as controlled hypertension or joint problems. Adherence was approximately 92%. In the experimental group, 6RM increased 20% more than in the control group, but peak power was slightly lower in both groups. There was no change in FCA. PSE was not correlated with the increase in 6RM, but was significantly linearly correlated with peak power. These results, and particularly the different response to training for strength and power in this group, are discussed. The mean reduction in peak power over the training period was not expected; possible reasons are discussed. The expectation of a relationship between PSE and changes in physical performance was not realized, although there was a statistically significant correlation between PSE and peak power. Possible reasons for this are discussed. In general, it was concluded that, after twelve weeks of training, the increase in weight-lifting performance using arm flexors: -shows that older women can, through a simple programme of progressive weight training done at home, improve the amount of weight they can lift -was not accompanied by hypertrophy of arm flexors -was not accompanied by an increase in peak power of the arm flexors -was not related to physical self-efficacy as measured In this study.

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