Thirty-two master athletes (shot put, discus, and hammer throw) were divided into 4 groups according to their age (T40 [40 years of age], 50 [50 years of age], 60 [60 years of age], and 75 [75 years of age]). Twenty-eight age-matched men served as controls (C40 [40 years of age], 50 [50 years of age], 60 [60 years of age], and 75 [75 years of age]). The subjects were tested for maximal isometric strength of the lower and upper extremities. Power was measured by performing jump squats and bench press in the Smith machine with the load of 60% of 1 repetition maximum. Electromyographic (EMG) activity was recorded from 6 different muscles. The muscle thickness of vastus lateralis and intermedius (VL+VI) and triceps brachii (TB) was measured by ultrasound. Maximal strength differed (p < 0.05-0.001) in all testing actions between T40 and T60 and T40 and T75 as well as between T and C groups. Both VL+VI and TB thickness in T40 was greater (p < 0.05-0.01) than in T60 and T75 and in T was larger than in C groups. Average force during the first 500 milliseconds (ms) was higher (p < 0.05-0.001) in T40 compared to T50, T60, and T75 in bilateral leg extension, biceps curl, and especially in unilateral knee flexion. T40 produced higher power than the other groups (p < 0.05-0.001). The relative agonist EMG activation (VL) in leg extension during the first 100 ms compared to maximum activation was lower (p < 0.05) in T50, T60, and T75, but not in T40. The present data indicate that maximal strength and muscle thickness as well as explosive strength and power characteristics decline with aging also in master athletes who carry out strength training and throwing exercises actively over several decades. Nevertheless, in master athletes, maximal strength and muscle mass as well as explosive force production of the upper and lower extremities seem to be at remarkably higher levels than those recorded for age-matched control men.
(C) 2007 National Strength and Conditioning Association