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This study examined the effect of aerobic training on leg strength, power, and muscle mass in previously sedentary, healthy older men (70–80 yr). Training consisted of 30–45 min of cycle ergometry at 50–70% maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), 3 times weekly for 16 wk, then 4 wk detraining, or assignment to a nontraining control group (n = 12 both groups). Training increased leg strength, leg power, upper leg muscle mass, and VO2max above pretraining values (21%, 12%, 4%, and 15%, respectively; p < .05). However, all gains were lost after detraining, except for some gain in VO2max. This suggests that cycle ergometry is sufficient stimulus to improve neuromuscular function in older men, but gains are quickly lost with detraining. For the older population cycle ergometry provides the means to not only increase aerobic fitness but also increase leg strength and power and upper leg muscle mass. However, during periods of inactivity neuromuscular gains are quickly lost.
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