Effects of strength training and detraining on muscle quality: age and gender comparisons

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2000 Mar;55(3):B152-7; discussion B158-9. doi: 10.1093/gerona/55.3.b152.


Maximal force production per unit of muscle mass (muscle quality, or MQ) has been used to describe the relative contribution of non-muscle-mass components to the changes in strength with age and strength training (ST). To compare the influence of age and gender on MQ response to ST and detraining, 11 young men (20-30 years), nine young women (20-30 years), 11 older men (65-75 years), and 11 older women (65-75 years), were assessed for quadriceps MQ at baseline, after 9 weeks of ST, and after 31 weeks of detraining. MQ was calculated by dividing quadriceps one repetition maximum (IRM) strength by quadriceps muscle volume determined by magnetic resonance imaging. All groups demonstrated significant increases in IRM strength and muscle volume after training (all p < .05). All groups also increased their MQ with training (all p < .01), but the gain in MQ was significantly greater in young women than in the other three groups (p < .05). After 31 weeks of detraining, MQ values remained significantly elevated above baseline levels in all groups (p < .05), except the older women. These results indicate that factors other than muscle mass contribute to strength gains with ST in young and older men and women, but those other factors may account for a higher portion of the strength gains in young women. These factors continue to maintain strength levels above baseline for up to 31 weeks after cessation of training in young men and women, and in older men.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Composition
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Sex Factors