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BRIDGING THE GAP

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Finding Balance Through Strength Training

The benefit of strength training is often measured in gains in maximal strength output. Yet a recent article in the August 2006 issue of The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research added another variable to the equation by measuring the changes in balance and functional capabilities as a result of a strength-training program.

The study tested middle-aged and older women after 21 weeks of a strength training program. The program consisted of strength training only twice a week. Each session included two exercises for the leg extensors and one exercise for the leg flexors along with 3-5 exercises for the other main muscle groups of the body. During the 21 week period the subjects progressed from performing 2-4 sets of 8-15 repetitions at 40% of their 1 repetition maximum (1RM) to 80% of their 1RM.

The results of the study showed significant improvement not only in maximal and explosive strength, but also a dramatic increase in walking speed and dynamic balance capability. The improvement in balance is very important for an age group in which the most common cause of injury is falls. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, more than one-third of adults ages 65 and older fall each year.

The results from the above study indicates that strength training not only benefits your strength and looks, but can also be performed as a preventive measure to help you stay on your feet.
Written by Aaron Losey, B.A. Kinesiology, Occidental College, Los Angeles, CA