• aging;
  • contraction;
  • physical function;
  • power;
  • sarcopenia


Introduction: Whereas deficits in muscle function, particularly power production, develop in old age and are risk factors for mobility impairment, a complete understanding of muscle fatigue during dynamic contractions is lacking. We tested hypotheses related to torque-producing capacity, fatigue resistance, and variability of torque production during repeated maximal contractions in healthy older, mobility-impaired older, and young women. Methods: Knee extensor fatigue (decline in torque) was measured during 4 min of dynamic contractions. Torque variability was characterized using a novel 4-component logistic regression model. Results: Young women produced more torque at baseline and during the protocol than older women (P < 0.001). Although fatigue did not differ between groups (P = 0.53), torque variability differed by group (P = 0.022) and was greater in older impaired compared with young women (P = 0.010). Conclusions: These results suggest that increased torque variability may combine with baseline muscle weakness to limit function, particularly in older adults with mobility impairments. Muscle Nerve 49: 209–217, 2014