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01.09.2009 | Original Article | Ausgabe 2/2009

European Journal of Applied Physiology 2/2009

Different response to eccentric and concentric training in older men and women

European Journal of Applied Physiology > Ausgabe 2/2009
Matthias Mueller, Fabio Andreas Breil, Michael Vogt, Roger Steiner, Kurt Lippuner, Albrecht Popp, Stephan Klossner, Hans Hoppeler, Christoph Däpp


Sarcopenia is the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength and has been associated with an increased risk of falling and the development of metabolic diseases. Various training protocols, nutritional and hormonal interventions have been proposed to prevent sarcopenia. This study explores the potential of continuous eccentric exercise to retard age-related loss of muscle mass and function. Elderly men and women (80.6 ± 3.5 years) were randomized to one of three training interventions demanding a training effort of two sessions weekly for 12 weeks: cognitive training (CT; n = 16), conventional resistance training (RET; n = 23) and eccentric ergometer training (EET; n = 23). Subjects were tested for functional parameters and body composition. Biopsies were collected from M. vastus lateralis before and after the intervention for the assessment of fiber size and composition. Maximal isometric leg extension strength (MEL: +8.4 ± 1.7%) and eccentric muscle coordination (COORD: −43 ± 4%) were significantly improved with EET but not with RET (MEL: +2.3 ± 2.0%; COORD: −13 ± 3%) and CT (MEL: −2.3 ± 2.5%; COORD: −12 ± 5%), respectively. We observed a loss of body fat (−5.0 ± 1.1%) and thigh fat (−6.9 ± 1.5%) in EET subjects only. Relative thigh lean mass increased with EET (+2.5 ± 0.6%) and RET (+2.0 ± 0.3%) and correlated negatively with type IIX/type II muscle fiber ratios. It was concluded that both RET and EET are beneficial for the elderly with regard to muscle functional and structural improvements but differ in their spectrum of effects. A training frequency of only two sessions per week seems to be the lower limit for a training stimulus to reveal measurable benefits.

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