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Experimental Gerontology

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Resistance exercise training is a cornerstone in preventing age-related declines in muscle mass and strength, and fatigability of limb muscle is important to this adaptive response. It is unknown, however, whether fatigability and the underlying mechanisms differ between different resistance exercise protocols in young and older adults. The purpose of this study was to quantify the fatigability of the knee extensors and identify the mechanisms in 20 young (22.2 ± 1.3 yr, 10 women) and 20 older adults (73.8 ± 5.4 yr, 10 women) elicited by a single session of high- and low-load resistance exercise. One leg completed a high-load protocol with contractions performed as fast as possible (HL-fast, ~80% 1 Repetition Max, 1RM), and the contralateral leg a low-load protocol performed with slow contractions (LL-slow, ~30% 1RM, 6 s concentric, 6 s eccentric). Each exercise involved four sets of eight repetitions. Before and immediately following each set, maximal voluntary isometric contractions (MVC) were performed, and voluntary activation and contractile properties quantified using electrical stimulation. The reduction in MVC was greater following the LL-slow (20%) than the HL-fast (12%, P = 0.004), with no age or sex differences. Similarly, the reduction in the amplitude of the involuntary electrically-evoked twitch was greater in the LL-slow (14%) than the HL-fast (7%, P = 0.014) and correlated with the reduction in MVC (r = 0.546, P < 0.001), whereas voluntary activation decreased only for the LL-slow protocol (5%, P < 0.001). Thus, low-load resistance exercise with slow contractions induced greater fatigability within the muscle than a more traditional high-load resistance protocol for both young and older men and women.


Accepted version. Experimental Gerontology, Vol. 154 (October 15, 2021): 111546. DOI. © 2021 Elsevier. Used with permission.

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