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

Morse, Christopher I. and Thom, Jeanette M. and Mian, Omar S. and Muirhead, Andrea and Birch, Karen M. and Narici, Marco V. (2005) Muscle strength, volume and activation following 12-month resistance training in 70-year-old males. ISSN 1439-6319

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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 cm(3) to 916.8 +/- 144.4 cm(3) . 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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