This study investigated the effects of gender, age, and dominance on upper and lower limb muscle function. One hundred and fifty-two males and females aged 20-30 and 40-80 years were recruited. Maximal voluntary isometric strength (MVC) and rate of force development (RFD) of the knee extensor muscles, and handgrip MVC were measured bilaterally as indicators of lower and upper limb muscle function, respectively. In both sexes, significant main effects were found for age (knee extension MVC, RFD, and handgrip MVC) and limb dominance (handgrip MVC). Men exhibited a steeper age-related decline in muscle function than women, particularly in the lower limb [dominant limb: knee extension MVC -56% (men) vs. -35% (women); handgrip MVC -30% (men) vs. -26% (women); RFD -67% (men) vs. -47% (women); non-dominant limb: knee extension MVC -49% (men) vs. -36% (women); handgrip MVC -26% (men) vs. -24% (women); RFD -62% (men) vs. -44% (women)]. Although men showed a higher rate of decline in muscle function, in absolute terms they demonstrated better muscle function than women in all age groups, which has important implications for independence and quality of life. A clear asymmetry in muscle function was evident in both sexes only for handgrip MVC.
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