Journal of Applied Physiology


Nine men, 78–84 yr of age, participated in a dynamometer training program 2–3 times/wk, totaling 25 sessions, using voluntary maximal isometric, concentric, and eccentric right knee–extension actions (30 and 180 degrees/s). Measurements of muscle strength with a Kin-Com dynamometer and simultaneous electromyograms (EMG) were performed of both sides before and after the training period. Muscle biopsies were taken from the right vastus lateralis muscle. The total quadriceps cross-sectional area was measured with computerized tomography. Training led to an increase in maximal torque for concentric (10% at 30 degrees/s) and eccentric (13–19%) actions in the trained leg. The EMG activity increased at maximal eccentric activities. The total cross-sectional quadriceps area of the trained leg increased by 3%, but no changes were recorded in muscle fiber areas in these subjects, who already had large mean fiber areas (5.15 microns 2 x 10(3)). The fatigue index measured from 50 consecutive concentric contractions at 180 degrees/s decreased and the citrate synthase activity increased in all but one subject. The results demonstrate that increased neural activation accompanies an increase in muscle strength at least during eccentric action in already rather active elderly men and that muscle endurance may also be improved with training.