Tracking the corticospinal responses to strength training

Joel Mason, Ashlyn K. Frazer, Janne Avela, Alan Pearce, Glyn Howatson, Dawson J. Kidgell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose The motor cortex (M1) appears to be a primary site of adaptation following both a single session, and repeated strength-training sessions across multiple weeks. Given that a single session of strength-training is sufficient to induce modification at the level of the M1 and corticospinal tract, this study sought to determine how these acute changes in M1 and corticospinal tract might accumulate across the course of a 2-week heavy-load strength-training program. Methods Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) was used to infer corticospinal excitability (CSE), intracortical facilitation (ICF), short and long-interval intracortical inhibition (SICI and LICI) and silent period duration prior to and following each training session during a 2-week heavy-load strength-training period. Results Following 2-weeks of strength-training, increases in strength (15.5%, P = 0.01) were accompanied by an increase in CSE (44%, P = 0.006) and reductions in both silent period duration (14%, P < 0.0001) and SICI (35%, P = 0.0004). Early training sessions acutely increased CSE and ICF, and acutely reduced silent period duration and SICI. However, later training sessions failed to modulate SICI and ICF, with substantial adaptations occurring offline between training sessions. No acute or retained changes in LICI were observed. Co-contraction of antagonists reduced by 36% following 2-weeks of strength-training. Conclusions Collectively, these results indicate that corticospinal plasticity occurs within and between training sessions throughout a training period in distinct early and later stages that are modulated by separate mechanisms of plasticity. The development of strength is akin to the previously reported changes that occur following motor skill training.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783-798
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Volume120
Issue number4
Early online date14 Feb 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

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