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Influence of aerobic cycle exercise training on patellar tendon cross-sectional area in older women


Corresponding author: Todd Trappe, PhD, Human Performance Laboratory, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306, USA. Tel: +1 765 285 4456, E-mail:


Nine to 12 weeks of resistance exercise training in young individuals induces quadriceps muscle (∼6%) and region-specific patellar tendon (4–6%) hypertrophy. However, 12 weeks of resistance exercise training (∼1 h total exercise time) in older individuals (60–78 years) induces quadriceps muscle hypertrophy (9%) without impacting patellar tendon size. The current study examined if a different loading paradigm using cycle exercise would promote patellar tendon hypertrophy or alter the internal tendon properties, measured with magnetic resonance imaging signal intensity, in older individuals. Nine women (70 ± 2 years) completed 12 weeks of aerobic upright cycle exercise training (∼28 h total exercise time). Aerobic exercise training increased (P < 0.05) quadriceps muscle size (11 ± 2%) and VO2max (30 ± 9%). Mean patellar tendon cross-sectional area (CSA) (2 ± 1%) and signal intensity (−1 ± 2%) were unchanged (P > 0.05) over the 12 weeks of training. Region-specific CSA was unchanged (P > 0.05) at the proximal (−1 ± 3%) and mid regions (2 ± 2%) of the tendon but tended (P = 0.069) to increase at the distal region (5 ± 3%). Region-specific signal intensity differed along the tendon but was unchanged (P > 0.05) with training. Although more studies are needed, exercise-induced patellar tendon hypertrophy, compared with skeletal muscle, appears to be attenuated in older individuals, while the loading pattern associated with aerobic exercise seems to have more impact than resistance exercise in promoting patellar tendon hypertrophy.