Reductions in skeletal muscle mass, beginning after the third decade of life, reduce maximal neuromuscular power (Pmax). Maximal aerobic power generation is also reduced. The primary purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of maximal power cycling (PC) training using an inertial load ergometer on skeletal muscle mass and cardiovascular function in untrained 50- to 68-yr-old participants.
The study used a pre- or postoutcome exercise intervention testing untrained 50- to 68-yr-old adults (n = 39, M = 15, mean ± SE = 58.5 ± 0.8, range = 50–68 yr). Over the course of 8 wk, participants performed 15 min of training 3 times per week. Each session involved repeated (15–30 times) 4-s sprints of PC. Measurements were thigh muscle volume, total body lean mass, Pmax, peak oxygen consumption, cardio-ankle vascular index, performance on functional tests of living (FTLChair and FTLRamp), and intermuscular fat volume.
Training for 8 wk increased thigh muscle volume (3.7% ± 0.9%, P < 0.001) and total body lean mass (1.5% ± 0.4%, P < 0.01) while increasing total body mass (TBM) (1.4% ± 0.3%, P < 0.01). Physical performance measures increased significantly (all P < 0.05) with improvements in Pmax (12.0% ± 1.5%); peak oxygen consumption (9.8% ± 1.8%), and FTL (8.5% ± 1.3% to 17.2% ± 2%). Cardio-ankle vascular index was significantly decreased −2.3% ± 1.1% (P < 0.05), indicating reduced arterial stiffness.
These results demonstrate that 8 wk of PC training at true maximal power was effective at increasing muscle mass and maximal power, as well as maximal cardiovascular capacity and functional tasks in untrained 50- to 68-yr-olds.