A1 Journal article (refereed)
Tracking the corticospinal responses to strength training (2020)

Mason, J., Frazer, A. K., Avela, J., Pearce, A. J., Howatson, G., & Kidgell, D. J. (2020). Tracking the corticospinal responses to strength training. European Journal of Applied Physiology, 120(6), 783-798. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-020-04316-6

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Mason, Joel; Frazer, Ashlyn K.; Avela, Janne; Pearce, Alan J.; Howatson, Glyn; Kidgell, Dawson J.

Journal or series: European Journal of Applied Physiology

ISSN: 1439-6319

eISSN: 1439-6327

Publication year: 2020

Volume: 120

Issue number: 6

Pages range: 783-798

Publisher: Springer

Publication country: Germany

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-020-04316-6

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/67871


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.

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.

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.

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.

Keywords: cerebral cortex; strength training

Free keywords: corticospinal excitability; cortical plasticity; intracortical facilitation; short-interval cortical inhibition; silent period; strength training

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2020

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2021-09-08 at 13:01