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Am J Hum Biol. 2010 Jan-Feb;22(1):55-9. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.20951.

Variability of limb muscle size in young men.

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Waseda University, Saitama, Japan.


The purpose of this study was to determine the interindividual variability of the upper and lower limb muscle size in young men. Subjects were 655 Japanese men aged 18-39 years. They were sedentary and mildly to highly active individuals, including college athletes of various sports. Muscle thicknesses at each of the anterior and posterior portions of the upper arm, thigh, and lower leg were measured using B-mode ultrasonography. Interindividual variability of muscle thickness was evaluated by coefficients of variation (CVs). The CVs of muscle thicknesses were found to be in the order of upper arm posterior (17.7%), thigh anterior (14.8%), thigh posterior (12.6%), upper arm anterior (12.2%), lower leg anterior (9.8%), and lower leg posterior (9.4%). The CVs were significantly different between each pair of measurement sites except for those of upper arm anterior-thigh posterior and lower leg anterior-posterior. These differences remain significant even when the muscle thicknesses were normalized to the segment length. The observed differences in the size variability can be interpreted as muscle-related differences in hypertrophic responsiveness to resistance training. The muscle-dependent size variability may be related to the differences in the fiber-type composition and/or muscle usage in daily life among examined muscle groups.

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