Ageing is not associated with a decline in neuromusculular innervation or a reduced force in men aged 20 and 50 years

Jack Cannon, Kyle Tarpenning, Derek Kay, Francesco Marino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


The exact mechanisms responsible for the decline in strength with age are yet to be completely elucidated. Three proposed mechanisms responsible for the detrimental effect of increasing age on strength include changes in muscle mass, specific force and/or neuromuscular innervation. Thus, the purpose of this investigation was to determine if the age-related reduction in peak isometric strength was primarily associated with changes in muscle cross-sectional area, neuromuscular innervation and/or specific force. The cross-sectional area of the knee extensor muscles (QCSA) was estimated in 13 younger men (YM; 20·8 ± 1·6 years) and eight middle-aged men (MM; 53·8 ± 4·2 years) prior to performing a series of four maximal voluntary isometric contractions on an isokinetic dynamometer at an angle of 60° knee flexion. Peak force was determined and surface electromyography was sampled from the rectus femoris muscle during each maximal voluntary contraction. The cross-sectional area of the knee extensor muscles, peak force and integrated electromyography (IEMG) were significantly lower in the MM (P<0·01). However, when peak force and peak IEMG values were corrected for QCSA, there were no significant differences between age groups. These results suggest that the reduction in peak isometric force observed in the MM was primarily associated with quantitative changes in muscle mass, rather than reduced neuromuscular innervation or specific force. Therefore, preserving muscle mass through resistance training may significantly reduce the age-associated differences in peak strength and assist in promoting quality of life and functional independence in older adults.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)350-357
Number of pages8
JournalIsokinetics and Exercise Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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