Anaerobic performance in masters athletes

Peter Reaburn*, Ben J. Dascombe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
51 Downloads (Pure)


With increasing age, it appears that masters athletes competing in anaerobic events (10-100 s) decline linearly in performance until 70 years of age, after which the rate of decline appears to accelerate. This decline in performance appears strongly related to a decreased anaerobic work capacity, which has been observed in both sedentary and well-trained older individuals. Previously, a number of factors have been suggested to influence anaerobic work capacity including gender, muscle mass, muscle fiber type, muscle fiber size, muscle architecture and strength, substrate availability, efficiency of metabolic pathways, accumulation of reaction products, aerobic energy contribution, heredity, and physical training. The effects of sedentary aging on these factors have been widely discussed within literature. Less data are available on the changes in these factors in masters athletes who have continued to train at high intensities with the aim of participating in competition. The available research has reported that these masters athletes still demonstrate age-related changes in these factors. Specifically, it appears that morphological (decreased muscle mass, type II muscle fiber atrophy), muscle contractile property (decreased rate of force development), and biochemical changes (changes in enzyme activity, decreased lactate production) may explain the decreased anaerobic performance in masters athletes. However, the reduction in anaerobic work capacity and subsequent performance may largely be the result of physiological changes that are an inevitable result of the aging process, although their effects may be minimized by continuing specific high-intensity resistance or sprint training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-53
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Review of Aging and Physical Activity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


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