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Gender similarities and differences in skeletal muscle and body composition: an MRI study of recreational cyclists

Belzunce, Martin Alberto; Henckel, Johann; Di Laura, Anna; Horga, Laura Maria; Hart, Alister James; (2023) Gender similarities and differences in skeletal muscle and body composition: an MRI study of recreational cyclists. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine , 9 (3) , Article e001672. 10.1136/bmjsem-2023-001672. Green open access

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Abstract

OBJECTIVES: This study aims to quantitatively evaluate whether there are muscle mass differences between male and female recreational cyclists and compare muscle quality and body composition in the pelvis region between two well-matched groups of fit and healthy male and female adults. METHODS: This cross-sectional study involved 45 female and 42 male recreational cyclists. The inclusion criteria for both groups were to have cycled more than 7000 km in the last year, have an absence of injuries and other health problems, have no contraindication to MRI, and be 30-65 years old. Our main outcome measures were fat fraction, as a measure of intramuscular fat (IMF) content, and volume of the gluteal muscles measured using Dixon MRI. The gluteal subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) volume was evaluated as a secondary measure. RESULTS: We found that there were no gender differences in the IMF content of gluteus maximus (GMAX, p=0.42), gluteus medius (GMED, p=0.69) and gluteus minimus (GMIN, p=0.06) muscles, despite women having more gluteal SAT (p<0.01). Men had larger gluteal muscles than women (p<0.01), but no differences were found when muscle volume was normalised by body weight (GMAX, p=0.54; GMED, p=0.14; GMIN, p=0.19). CONCLUSIONS: Our study shows that despite the recognised hormonal differences between men and women, there is gender equivalence in the muscle mass and quality of the gluteal muscles when matched for exercise and body weight. This new MRI study provides key information to better understand gender similarities and differences in skeletal muscle and body composition.

Type: Article
Title: Gender similarities and differences in skeletal muscle and body composition: an MRI study of recreational cyclists
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1136/bmjsem-2023-001672
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjsem-2023-001672
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2023. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Keywords: MRI, body composition, cycling, physical activity, skeletal muscle
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Mechanical Engineering
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Surgery and Interventional Sci > Department of Ortho and MSK Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10176176
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