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The loss of muscle mass associated with ageing only partly explains the observed decline in muscle strength. This paper provides evidence of the contribution of muscular, tendinous and neural alterations to muscle weakness in old age and discusses the complex interplay between the changes of the contractile tissue with those of the tendinous tissue in relation to the mechanical behavior of the muscle as a whole. Despite the considerable structural and functional alterations, the elderly musculoskeletal system displays remarkable adaptability to training in old age and many of these adverse effects may be substantially mitigated, if not reversed, by resistive loading. The interplay between these muscular and tendinous adaptations has an impact both on the length–force and force–velocity relationships of the muscle and is likely to affect the range of motion, rate of force development, maximum force development and speed of movement of the older individual.