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Muscle strength, volume and activation following 12-month resistance training in 70-year-old males

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Abstract

In elderly males muscle plantar flexor maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) torque normalised to muscle volume (MVC/VOL) is reduced compared to young males as a result of incomplete muscle activation in the elderly. The aim of the present study was to determine the influence of a 12-month resistance training programme on muscle volume, strength, MVC/VOL, agonist activation and antagonist coactivation of the plantarfexors in elderly males. Thirteen elderly males aged 70 years and over (range 70–82 years), completed a 12-month whole body resistance-training programme (TRN), training three times a week. Another eight males (range 18–30 years), who maintained their habitual physical activity for the same 12-month period as the TRN group acted as controls (CTRL). Isometric plantarflexor maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) torque increased in the TRN group by 20% (P<0.01), from 113.1±22.0 Nm to 141.5±19.2 Nm. Triceps surae volume (TS VOL) assessed using MRI, increased by 12%, from 796.3±78.9 cm3 to 916.8±144.4 cm3 . PF activation, measured using supramaximal double twitch interpolation, increased from 83.6±11.0% pre training, to 92.1±7.6% post training (P<0.05). Dorsiflexion MVC and antagonist coactivation (assessed using surface electromyography) did not change with training. Plantarflexor MVC torque normalized for triceps surae muscle volume (MVC/VOL) was 142.6±32.4 kN m−2 before training and 157.0± 27.9 kN m−2 after training (a non-significant increase of 8%). No significant change in any measurement was observed in the CTRL group. This study has shown that the gain in muscle strength in response to long-term (12-month) training in older men is mostly accounted for by an increased muscle volume and activation.

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Acknowledgements

Supported by European Commission Framework V funding (‘Better-Ageing’ Project, No. QLRT-2001-00323).

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Correspondence to Christopher I. Morse.

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Morse, C.I., Thom, J.M., Mian, O.S. et al. Muscle strength, volume and activation following 12-month resistance training in 70-year-old males. Eur J Appl Physiol 95, 197–204 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-005-1342-3

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