Background: We aimed to investigate the association of age-related differences in the intracellular-to-total water ratio with explosive strength of the plantar flexors. Methods: A total of 60 young (21–33 years) and older (64–83 years) individuals were recruited. Intracellular- (ICW) and total-water (TW) content within the right leg was evaluated by bioelectrical impedance spectroscopy as indicators of muscle cell mass and whole muscle mass within the segment, respectively. ICW divided by TW (ICW/TW) was calculated as an index of the occupancy of muscle cells within whole muscle. Rate of torque development (RTD) and electromyography (EMG) activity during maximal voluntary isometric plantar flexion were measured as indicators of explosive muscle strength and neuromuscular activity, respectively. RTD was calculated from three time windows of 0–50, 50–100, and 100–200 ms. Time-to-peak torque (TPT) was assessed from evoked twitch contraction. Results: Compared with young participants, older participants showed lower ICW/TW (−7%, P < 0.001), RTD (−25 to −40%, P = 0.003 to 0.001), and longer TPT (+11%, P < 0.001). ICW/TW associated positively with RTD (r = 0.377 to 0.408, P = 0.004 to 0.001) and negatively with TPT (r = −0.392, P = 0.002), but not with EMG activity. RTD was associated positively with EMG for each time window (r = 0.527 to 0.607, P < 0.001). Conclusions: These results indicate that ICW/TW may be a useful predictor of the age-related decrease in RTD, and that the decrease in ICW/TW with age may reflect age-associated changes in intrinsic contractile properties.
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