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Does Age Affect Muscle Strength in Young Adults?

Sources: Lowndes, J, Carpenter, RL, Zoeller, RF, Seip, RL, Moyna, NM, Price, TB, Clarkson, PM, Gordon, PM, Pescatello, LS, Visich, PS, Devaney, JM, Gordish-Dressman, H, Hoffman, EP, Thompson, PD, and Angelopoulos, TJ. Association of age with muscle size and strength before and after short-term resistance training in young adults. Journal of Strength Conditioning and Research. 2009 Oct;23(7):1915-20.

This study was conducted to determine what association age has with muscle mass and increasing strength in a group of young adults before and after 12 weeks of progressive resistance training. For the study 826 young males and females between the ages of 18 and 39 years old participated in a very strict 12 week resistance training program using their non-dominant arm. Areas where measurements were taken included dynamic strength in the area of the elbow flexor and cross-sectional areas of the biceps using magnetic resistance imaging. These tests were conducted both before and after the training.

Factors that were taken into consideration during the study included size and strength variables, age and in addition the group was divided according to the decade of life. What the study showed was that age did not have a significant positive relationship when it came to muscle size and strength in untrained young adults. Although age was negatively associated with any improvement in a one repetition max, this effect was very small when compared to the overall improvements that came about as a result of the resistance training. The results suggest that age does not limit the response of resistance training in any way for young adults.

In the past there have been concerns about whether or not strength training is healthy for young adults. Some concerns in this area lie in the fact that young adults are not fully developed and that adding a resistance training program at an early age may not be beneficial. However more recent studies show that exercise including resistance training can benefit just about anyone at any age. What is noticeable is that muscle growth and strength increases may not happen as quickly when you are older compared to when you were younger. This does not mean that you cannot increase your muscle mass and strength as you get older. Howeer the benefits that come about from resistance training for older people may be different from those for a younger person. When they are young, most people look to increase their size and strength and to achieve an attractive physique. Older people usually wish to maintain their physical strength and flexibility, manage their weight, and maintain their attractive physique.

Does age matter when it comes to resistance training? Age can indirectly affect the results that you expect to gain from a strength training or bodybuilding workout. Resistance training can help to strengthen your joints and muscles and prevent the effects of osteoarthritis as well as slow down the onset of osteoporosis. Participating in resistance training strengthens your joints, muscles and bones and your body will respond accordingly to the stresses that you place upon it.

In older individuals as well as in younger individuals if you perform cardiovascular exercise it will help to increase your overall endurance. When you participate in resistance training you will make your joints and muscles stronger. Having stronger joints and muscles as we age is as important because as we become older we are more susceptible to injuries from falls or other accidents. The human body has the ability to build muscle at any age, it is simply a matter of choosing the correct workout program that will fit your abilities and needs. Young adults need not fear that by participating in resistance training it will have a negative affect on their physical growth or ability to gain muscle. The sooner individuals adopt a lifestyle of regular exercise the sooner they will begin improving their level of fitness and overall health.

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