Original Article

European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 109, Issue 5, pp 923-933

First online:

Resistance training induces supraspinal adaptations: evidence from movement-related cortical potentials

  • Michael J. FalvoAffiliated withProgram in Physical Therapy, Washington University School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Erik J. SirevaagAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine
  • , John W. RohrbaughAffiliated withDepartment of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine
  • , Gammon M. EarhartAffiliated withProgram in Physical Therapy, Washington University School of MedicineDepartment of Anatomy and Neurobiology Neurology, Washington University School of MedicineDepartment of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine

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Abstract

Early effects of a resistance training program include neural adaptations at multiple levels of the neuraxis, but direct evidence of central changes is lacking. Plasticity exhibited by multiple supraspinal centers following training may alter slow negative electroencephalographic activity, referred to as movement-related cortical potentials (MRCP). The purpose of this study was to determine whether MRCPs are altered in response to resistance training. Eleven healthy participants (24.6 ± 3.5 years) performed 3 weeks of explosive unilateral leg extensor resistance training. MRCP were assessed during 60 self-paced leg extensions against a constant nominal load before and after training. Resistance training was effective (P < 0.001) in increasing leg extensor peak force (+22%), rate of force production (+32%) as well as muscle activity (iEMG; +47%, P < 0.05). These changes were accompanied by several MRCP effects. Following training, MRCP amplitude was attenuated at several scalp sites overlying motor-related cortical areas (P < 0.05), and the onset of MRCP at the vertex was 28% (561 ms) earlier. In conclusion, the 3-week training protocol in the present study elicited significant strength gains which were accompanied by neural adaptations at the level of the cortex. We interpret our findings of attenuated cortical demand for submaximal voluntary movement as evidence for enhanced neural economy as a result of resistance training.

Keywords

Movement-related cortical potential Bereitschaftspotential Resistance training Neural adaptation