Nutrition & Health OnLine Magazine: Latest Research
By Davey Dunn
Effect of resistance training on single muscle fiber contractile function in older men.
Researchers at the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University examined the single cell contractile mechanics of skeletal muscle before and after 12 weeks of progressive resistance training (PRT) in older men (n = 7; age = 74 +/- 2 yr and weight = 75 +/- 5 kg). Knee extensor PRT was performed 3 days/wk at 80% of one-repetition maximum. Muscle biopsy samples were obtained from the vastus lateralis before and after PRT (pre- and post-PRT, respectively). For analysis, chemically skinned single muscle fibers were studied at 15 degrees C for peak tension [the maximal isometric force (P(o))], unloaded shortening velocity (V(o)), and force-velocity parameters. In this study, a total of 199 (89 pre- and 110 post-PRT) myosin heavy chain (MHC) I and 99 (55 pre- and 44 post-PRT) MHC IIa fibers were reported. Because of the minimal number of hybrid fibers identified post-PRT, direct comparisons were limited to MHC I and IIa fibers. Muscle fiber diameter increased 20% (83 +/- 1 to 100 +/- 1 microm) and 13% (86 +/- 1 to 97 +/- 2 microm) in MHC I and IIa fibers, respectively (P < 0.05). P(o) was higher (P < 0.05) in MHC I (0.58 +/- 0.02 to 0.90 +/- 0.02 mN) and IIa (0.68 +/- 0.02 to 0.85 +/- 0.03 mN) fibers. Muscle fiber V(o) was elevated 75% (MHC I) and 45% (MHC IIa) after PRT (P < 0.05). MHC I and IIa fiber power increased (P < 0.05) from 7.7 +/- 0.5 to 17.6 +/- 0.9 microN. fiber lengths. s(-1) and from 25.5 to 41.1 microN. fiber lengths. s(-1), respectively. These data indicate that PRT in elderly men increases muscle cell size, strength, contractile velocity, and power in both slow- and fast-twitch muscle fibers. However, it appears that these changes are more pronounced in the MHC I muscle fibers.
COMMENTARY: Many people make excuses when it comes to weight training. One often heard excuse is that past a certain age you are too old to benefit from lifting weights. This study clearly shows that even men in their 70's can increase the size and strength of their muscles.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THIS STUDY? You are never too old to benefit from weight training.
Trappe S, Williamson D, Godard M, Porter D, Rowden G, Costill D   Effect of resistance training on single muscle fiber contractile function in older men.   J Appl Physiol 2000 Jul;89(1):143-52
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