, Volume 31, Issue 12, pp 829-840
Date: 13 Nov 2012

Neural Adaptations to Resistance Training

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It has long been believed that resistance training is accompanied by changes within the nervous system that play an important role in the development of strength. Many elements of the nervous system exhibit the potential for adaptation in response to resistance training, including supraspinal centres, descending neural tracts, spinal circuitry and the motor end plate connections between motoneurons and muscle fibres. Yet the specific sites of adaptation along the neuraxis have seldom been identified experimentally, and much of the evidence for neural adaptations following resistance training remains indirect. As a consequence of this current lack of knowledge, there exists uncertainty regarding the manner in which resistance training impacts upon the control and execution of functional movements. We aim to demonstrate that resistance training is likely to cause adaptations to many neural elements that are involved in the control of movement, and is therefore likely to affect movement execution during a wide range of tasks.

We review a small number of experiments that provide evidence that resistance training affects the way in which muscles that have been engaged during training are recruited during related movement tasks. The concepts addressed in this article represent an important new approach to research on the effects of resistance training. They are also of considerable practical importance, since most individuals perform resistance training in the expectation that it will enhance their performance in related functional tasks.