Maximum values for isometric strength, dynamic strength, and speed of movement (MEV) in the quadriceps muscle were measured in 114 male subjects who were between 11 and 70 yr. Biopsy samples were taken from the quadriceps muscle in 51 of the subjects (22–65 yr. old). Isometric and dynamic strength increased up to the third decade, remained almost constant to the fifth decade, and then decreased with increasing age. However, no measurable external atrophy of the quadriceps muscle, explaining the decline in strength, could be seen in old age. Histochemical changes in the muscle tissue such as decreased proportion of type II fibers and a selective atrophy of type II fibers, were seen with increasing age. The strength decline in old age was also observed to correlate significantly with the type II fiber area. Multiple regression analyses indicated, however, that mechanisms other than the type II fiber atrophy might be responsible for the decline in strength performance during aging. The implications of these findings are discussed.
- Copyright © 1979 the American Physiological Society