As personal trainers, our primary goal is to help clients improve their health and fitness, ensuring that they can lead active and independent lives. This objective is particularly crucial when working with older adults, who often face a decline in physical capabilities due to aging. A recent systematic review and meta-analysis by el Hadouchi et al. (2022) provides compelling insights into the effectiveness of power training compared to traditional strength training in enhancing functional fitness in older adults. Understanding these findings can significantly influence how we design training programmes for our clients.

The Study

The research conducted by el Hadouchi and colleagues aimed to determine whether power training or strength training is more effective in improving muscle power and functional performance in older adults. Previous studies suggested that muscle power (the ability to produce a large force quickly) might be a more critical determinant of physical functioning in older adults than muscle strength (the ability to produce a large force regardless of speed). This study systematically reviewed and analysed randomised controlled trials (RCTs) to compare the two training methods directly.

The researchers performed a comprehensive search across multiple databases, including PubMed, Embase, Ebsco/CINAHL, Ebsco/SPORTDiscus, Wiley/Cochrane Library, and Scopus. They selected studies that compared the effects of power training to strength training in older adults. To be included in the meta-analysis, studies had to meet specific criteria: participants had to be over 65 years old, interventions had to last at least eight weeks, and outcomes had to include measures of muscle power, activity-based tests, or physical activity levels in daily life.


The meta-analysis included 15 trials with a total of 583 participants. The results showed a statistically significant benefit of power training on all reported outcomes. Specifically, power training demonstrated a greater improvement in muscle power (SMD: 0.99), generic activity-based tests (SMD: 0.37), and activity-based tests emphasising movement speed (SMD: 0.43) compared to strength training. However, none of the included studies measured the impact of these interventions on physical activity levels in daily life.

The study concluded that power training offers more potential for improving muscle power and performance on activity-based tests in older adults compared to strength training. The researchers suggested that future studies should focus on establishing standardised test protocols and investigating the impact of power training on physical activity levels in daily life.

Integrating Power Training into Programmes

The findings from this study suggest that we should incorporate power training into programmes for older adults. Power training involves exercises that require quick and explosive movements, such as jump squats, kettlebell swings, and fast-paced resistance band exercises. These exercises are designed to enhance the ability to generate force rapidly, which is crucial for functional activities like rising from a chair, climbing stairs, or reacting quickly to prevent a fall.

Tailoring Training Regimens

When designing training regimens, it is essential to tailor the programme to the individual capabilities and progress of each client. For older adults, a balanced programme that includes both power and strength training elements can be highly beneficial. While strength training focuses on building muscle mass and overall force production, power training emphasises the speed of force production, which is vital for maintaining functional independence.

Measuring Progress

To track the effectiveness of the training programme, personal trainers should use activity-based tests that emphasise movement speed. Tests such as timed chair rises, walking speed tests, and timed stair climbs can provide valuable feedback on the client’s progress. These tests not only measure improvements in muscle power but also reflect gains in functional performance.

Educating Clients

Educating clients about the benefits of power training is crucial. Many older adults may be unfamiliar with the concept of power training and its importance for daily activities. By explaining how these exercises can improve their ability to perform everyday tasks, personal trainers can motivate clients to engage more fully in their training programmes.

Staying Updated with Research

As new research emerges, it is vital for personal trainers to stay informed and integrate best practices into their programmes. The study by el Hadouchi et al. highlights the importance of evidence-based training methods. Future research will likely provide more detailed guidelines on power training parameters, helping trainers refine their approaches further.

Holistic Approach to Fitness

In addition to power and strength training, a comprehensive fitness programme for older adults should include elements of balance, flexibility, and cardiovascular fitness. This holistic approach ensures that all aspects of physical health are addressed, promoting overall wellbeing and reducing the risk of injury.

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Impact on Programme Design

Shift in Focus

The results of this study suggest a potential shift in focus for training programmes aimed at older adults. While traditional strength training has been the cornerstone of many fitness programmes, the emphasis on power training introduces a new dimension that addresses the rapid force production needed for functional movements. By incorporating power training, personal trainers can help older clients maintain and even improve their functional independence.

Programme Structure

A typical programme structure might include a combination of power training and traditional strength exercises. For example, a session could start with dynamic warm-up exercises, followed by power training drills, and then move into strength training exercises. This approach ensures that both muscle power and strength are being developed concurrently.

Safety Considerations

It is essential to consider safety when introducing power training to older adults. Begin with low-intensity exercises and gradually increase the intensity as the client’s confidence and capabilities improve. Proper form and technique should be emphasised to prevent injury.


Programmes should be customised based on the client’s baseline fitness level, health status, and personal goals. Regular assessments and adjustments to the programme will help ensure that the client continues to make progress and remains engaged in their fitness journey.

The study by el Hadouchi et al. provides valuable insights into the benefits of power training for older adults. By incorporating power training into fitness programmes, we can enhance our clients’ muscle power, improve functional performance, and potentially increase their independence in daily activities. As the fitness industry continues to evolve, staying informed about the latest research and best practices will enable us to deliver the highest quality of service to our clients.

By embracing these findings and integrating them into training regimens, personal we make a significant impact on the health and quality of life of our clients.


el Hadouchi, M., Kiers, H., de Vries, R., Veenhof, C., & van Dieën, J. (2022). Effectiveness of power training compared to strength training in older adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. European Review of Aging and Physical Activity, 19(18). Click here to review the full research article

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