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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1997 Nov;83(5):1581-7.

Age and gender comparisons of muscle strength in 654 women and men aged 20-93 yr.

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Department of Kinesiology, College of Health and Human Performance, University of Maryland, College Park 20742, USA.


To assess age and gender differences in muscle strength, isometric, concentric (Con), and eccentric (Ecc) peak torque was measured in the knee extensors at a slow (0.52 rad/s) and fast (3.14 rad/s) velocity in 654 subjects (346 men and 308 women, aged 20-93 yr) from the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging. Regression analysis revealed significant (P < 0.001) age-related reductions in Con and Ecc peak torque for men and women at both velocities, but no differences were observed between the gender groups or velocities. Age explained losses in Con better than Ecc peak torque, accounting for 30% (Con) vs. 19% (Ecc) of the variance in men and 28% (Con) vs. 11% (Ecc) in women. To assess age and gender differences in the ability to store and utilize elastic energy, the stretch-shortening cycle was determined in a subset of subjects (n = 47). The older women (mean age = 70 yr) showed a significantly greater enhancement in the stretch-shortening cycle, compared with men of similar age (P < 0.01) and compared with younger men and women (each P < 0.05). Both men and women showed significant declines in muscle quality for Con peak torque (P < 0.01), but no gender differences were observed. Only the men showed a significant decline in muscle quality (P < 0.001) for Ecc peak torque. Thus both men and women experience age-related losses in isometric, Con, and Ecc knee extensor peak torque; however, age accounted for less of the variance in Ecc peak torque in women, and women tend to better preserve muscle quality with age for Ecc peak torque. In addition, older women have an enhanced capacity to store and utilize elastic energy compared with similarly aged men as well as with younger women and men.

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