Assessment of Strength Training Effects on Leg Composition in Older Men Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)

By Ty Sevin, Aug 30, 2021

< Back to Benefits of Strength Training on Body Composition in Older Adults

B.F. Hurley FACSM, B.A, Redmond, ICH. Koffler, A. Menkes, |.M. Hagberg, FACSM, R.E, Pratley, J.W.R. Young, and A.P. Goldberg, Depts, of Kinesiology, Radiology, Medicine (Geriatrics) and Center on Aging, University of Maryland, College Park & Baltimore, Maryland 20742M & 21218.


Six healthy, untrained men, aged 50-75 years, were studied to determine the effects of a 14 week total body strength training program on the muscle and fat composition of the thigh. To assess the levels of muscle and fat at midthigh, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) was used before and after the training program. In addition, thigh circumference (size) and skinfolds (fat under the skin) were also measured at the same location.


Lower body strength increased by ~ 41% while there were no significant changes in body weight. The MRI analysis revealed an 8% increase in the muscle area of the midthigh and a 9% decrease in its subcutaneous fat, despite no significant changes in midthigh circumference or skinfold thickness.


Older adults can increase muscle and decrease fat with a strength training program, even when limb circumference is unchanged. This research provides data to share with the many senior women who avoid strength training because they equate increased strength with increased size. The results demonstrate that strength training can help seniors significantly increase their strength to more effectively respond to functional needs, without increasing limb size.

Keiser Equipment Used

Leg press, chest press, leg curl, leg extension, lat pull down, shoulder press, upper back, hip abductor, triceps and abdominal machines.

Presented at American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting, 1991. Published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, vol. 23 no. 4: $108, 1991.

About the author

Ty Sevin

Director of Human Performance, Education and Research

Articles by Ty Sevin >

With over 25 years of coaching experience at both the collegiate and Olympic levels, Ty Sevin is one of the most influential track and field coaches in the country. Ty has worked for the United States Olympic Committee, serving as the Director of the Track and Field Residency Program at the USOC Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. He has also served as an assistant coach for Team USA on three separate occasions, for both the men’s and women’s teams. Ty himself was a four-time U.S. Olympics Trials qualifier in javelin. Ty most recently spent four years as the Associate Head Coach at the University of Texas at Austin for both the men’s and women’s track and field teams. Prior to that, he led the men’s and women’s track and cross-country teams at the University of New Orleans and McNeese State.

Currently, Ty applies his vast industry experience to the role of Director of Human Performance, Research and Education for Keiser Corporation, where he consults with college and professional sports teams regarding the utilization of Keiser strength equipment. He is also responsible for creating educational curriculum relating to human performance and overseeing Keiser research projects