Adaptations to endurance training in the healthy elderly: Arm cranking versus leg cycling

Silvia Pogliaghi, P. Terziotti, A. Cevese, F. Balestreri, F. Schena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The effect in healthy elderly subjects of cycle ergometer or arm ergometer training on peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak) and ventilatory threshold (VT) was studied. The aim was to determine the benefit of each training modality on specific and cross exercise capacity. The cross-effect was also evaluated as an index of the central nature of the adaptive response to training. Twelve non-smoking healthy males (age: 67 ± 5 year; body mass: 75 ± 9 kg) were randomly divided in two age-matched groups of six, performing an arm cranking (ARM) or a cycloergometer (CYC) training (12-week, 30 min, 3 times/week), while a third group of 6 subjects (age: 73 ± 4 year; body mass: 80 ± 8 kg) performed no training (control, C). At baseline and following the intervention, subjects carried out an incremental test to exhaustion both on the ergometer on which they trained (specific test) and on the other ergometer (cross test). Respiratory variables were measured breath by breath and heart rate (HR) was recorded. Peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak), ventilation (VEpeak), oxygen pulse (O2 Ppeak) and heart rate (HRpeak) were averaged over the last 10 s of exercise. Following training, while HRpeak remained unchanged, significantly higher Wpeak, VO2peak, VEpeak and O2Ppeak were obtained in both training groups, on both ergometers. The amplitude of the increase in Wpeak, VO2peak and O2 Ppeak was significantly higher for specific than for cross tests (∼9% vs. ∼8% in CYC; ∼22% vs. ∼9% in ARM, P <0.01) while the increase in same test condition was similar. No change was observed in the C group. The results indicate that aerobic training brought about with different muscle masses, produce similar improvements in maximal and submaximal exercise capacity. Roughly half of such improvements are specific to exercise mode, which suggests peripheral adaptations to training. The other half is non-specific since it influences also the alternative exercise modality, and is probably due to central adaptations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-731
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006


  • Aging
  • Arm exercise
  • Physical conditioning
  • Physical fitness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Adaptations to endurance training in the healthy elderly: Arm cranking versus leg cycling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this