Effects of strength and endurance training on thigh and leg muscle mass and composition in elderly women

S. Sipila, H. Suominen

Abstract

The effects of 18 wk of intensive strength and endurance training on knee extensor, knee flexor, and lower leg muscle mass and composition were studied in 76- to 78-yr-old women. Muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), lean tissue CSA, and relative proportion of fat were determined using computed tomography. The strength-trained women increased their total muscle lean tissue CSA of the thigh (1.5%; P = 0.035), quadriceps CSA (4.5%; P = 0.021), quadriceps lean tissue CSA (5.8%, P = 0.009), and mean Hounsfield unit of the lower leg muscles (11.2%; P = 0.035) compared with the changes that occurred in the control group during the experiment. The change in quadriceps lean tissue CSA because of the strength training was also significant compared with that in the endurance group. The relative proportion of fat within the quadriceps muscle decreased due to the strength training compared with the changes that occurred in the endurance group. The results show that intensive strength training can induce skeletal muscle hypertrophy in elderly women and thereby also reduce the relative amount of intramuscular fat, whereas the effects of endurance training are negligible.