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Musculoskeletal adaptations to resistance training in old age

Reeves, Neil D. and Narici, Marco V. and Maganaris, Constantinos N. (2006) Musculoskeletal adaptations to resistance training in old age. Manual therapy, 11 (3). pp. 192-196. ISSN 1356-689X

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Abstract

Muscle weakness experienced in old age has many detrimental consequences for activities of daily life. Given the serious problems presented by weakness in old age, strategies to prevent or mitigate this process are of paramount importance. In recent years resistance training has emerged as an effective method for increasing strength in the elderly. Despite this, little is known regarding the muscular, neural and tendinous adaptations that occur with resistance training in old age. Hence, we have conducted a series of experiments to investigate these adaptations. We have found increases in maximal isometric and concentric torque by 9–37% after resistance training in older people (65–81 years). Associated with these strength gains were increases in agonist muscle neural drive without any change in the co-activation of antagonist muscles. Resistance training can cause increases in muscle size and also adaptations to the internal muscle structure. Tendons of older adults adapt to resistance training by increasing their stiffness and Young's modulus. In conclusion, many of the musculoskeletal factors characterizing ageing can be at least partially mitigated by resistance training.

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