Does the reticulospinal tract mediate adaptation to resistance training in humans?

Elliott Atkinson, Jakob Skarabot, Paul Ansdell, Stuart Goodall, Glyn Howatson, Kevin Thomas*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
35 Downloads (Pure)


Resistance training increases volitional force-producing capacity, and it is widely accepted that such an increase is partly underpinned by adaptations in the central nervous system, particularly in the early phases of training. Despite this, the neural substrate(s) responsible for mediating adaptation remains largely unknown. Most studies have focused on the corticospinal tract, the main descending pathway controlling movement in humans, with equivocal findings. It is possible that neural adaptation to resistance training is mediated by other structures; one such candidate is the reticulospinal tract. The aim of this narrative mini-review is to articulate the potential of the reticulospinal tract to underpin adaptations in muscle strength. Specifically, we 1) discuss why the structure and function of the reticulospinal tract implicate it as a potential site for adaptation; 2) review the animal and human literature that supports the idea of the reticulospinal tract as an important neural substrate underpinning adaptation to resistance training; and 3) examine the potential methodological options to assess the reticulospinal tract in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-696
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
Early online date14 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022


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