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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2016 Aug 1;121(2):415-23. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00117.2016. Epub 2016 Jun 23.

Lifelong strength training mitigates the age-related decline in efferent drive.

Author information

1
Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway; runar.unhjem@gmail.com.
2
Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway;
3
Discipline of Physiology, School of Medicine, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia;
4
Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway; Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, St. Olav's University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway;
5
Department of Circulation and Medical Imaging, Faculty of Medicine, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway; Department of Research and Development, St. Olav's University Hospital, Trondheim, Norway; and Department of Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Abstract

Recently, we documented age-related attenuation of efferent drive to contracting skeletal muscle. It remains elusive if this indication of reduced muscle strength is present with lifelong strength training. For this purpose, we examined evoked potentials in the calf muscles of 11 [71 ± 4 (SD) yr] strength-trained master athletes (MA) contrasted with 10 (71 ± 4 yr) sedentary (SO) and 11 (73 ± 6 yr) recreationally active (AO) old subjects, as well as 9 (22 ± 2 yr) young controls. As expected, MA had higher leg press maximal strength (MA, 185 ± 32 kg; AO, 128 ± 15 kg; SO, 106 ± 11 kg; young, 147 ± 22 kg, P < 0.01) and rate of force development (MA, 5,588 ± 2,488 N/s; AO, 2,156 ± 1,100 N/s; SO, 2,011 ± 825 N/s; young, 3,663 ± 1,140 N/s, P < 0.05) than the other groups. MA also exhibited higher musculus soleus normalized V waves during maximal voluntary contractions (MVC) [maximal V wave amplitude/maximal M wave during MVC (Vsup/Msup); 0.28 ± 0.15] than AO (0.13 ± 0.06, P < 0.01) and SO (0.11 ± 0.05, P < 0.01), yet lower than young (0.45 ± 0.12, P < 0.01). No differences were apparent between the old groups in H reflex recorded at rest or during MVC [maximal H reflex amplitude/maximal M wave during rest (Hmax/Mmax); maximal H reflex amplitude during MVC/maximal M wave during MVC (Hsup/Msup)], and all were lower (P < 0.01) than young. MA (34.4 ± 2.1 ms) had shorter (P < 0.05) H reflex latency compared with AO (36.4 ± 3.7 ms) and SO (37.3 ± 3.2 ms), but longer (P < 0.01) than young (30.7 ± 2.0 ms). Using interpolated twitch analysis, MA (89 ± 7%) had plantar flexion voluntary activation similar to young (90 ± 6%), and this was higher (P < 0.05), or tended to be higher (P = 0.06-0.09), than SO (83 ± 10%) and AO (84 ± 5%). These observations suggest that lifelong strength training has a protective effect against age-related attenuation of efferent drive. In contrast, no beneficial effect seems to derive from habitual recreational activity, indicating that strength training may be particularly beneficial for counteracting age-related loss of neuromuscular function.

KEYWORDS:

H reflex; V wave; aging; muscle strength; voluntary activation

PMID:
27339181
DOI:
10.1152/japplphysiol.00117.2016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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