European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 101, Issue 3, pp 301–312 | Cite as

Enhanced H-reflex with resistance training is related to increased rate of force development

  • Andreas HoltermannEmail author
  • Karin Roeleveld
  • Morten Engstrøm
  • Trond Sand
Original Article


Parallel increases in strength and rate of force development (RFD) are well-known outcomes from the initial phase of resistance training. However, it is unknown whether neural adaptations with training contribute to improvements of both factors. The aim of this study was to examine whether changes in H-reflex amplitude with resistance training can explain the gain in strength or rather be associated with RFD. Twelve subjects carried out 3 weeks of isometric maximal plantarflexion training, whereas 12 subjects functioned as contr ols. H-reflexes were elicited in the soleus muscle during rest and sub-maximal contractions at 20 and 60% of maximal voluntary contraction (MVC). In addition, surface electromyography (sEMG) was recorded from the soleus, gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior muscles during MVC. The resistance training provided increases in maximal force of 18%, RFD of 28% and H-reflex amplitude during voluntary contractions of 17 and 15% while no changes occurred in the control group. In contrast, the maximal M-wave, the maximal H-reflex to maximal M-wave ratio during rest and sEMG during MVC did not change with training. There was a positive correlation between percentage changes in H-reflex amplitude and RFD with training (r = 0.59), while significant association between percentage changes in H-reflex amplitude and maximal force was not found. These findings indicate the occurrence of changed motoneuron excitability or presynaptic inhibition during the initial phase of resistance training. This is the first study to document that increased RFD with resistance training is associated with changes in reflex excitability.


Neural adaptation H-reflex Resistance training Rate of force development 



We would like to thank Jørgen Ingebrigtsen of Human Movement Sciences program, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway, for his contribution with the data collection and resistance training.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Holtermann
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Karin Roeleveld
    • 1
  • Morten Engstrøm
    • 2
  • Trond Sand
    • 2
  1. 1.Human Movement Sciences ProgrammeNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Department of Neurology and Clinical Neurophysiology, St. Olavs Hospital and Department of NeuroscienceNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway
  3. 3.Bevegelsesvitenskap, SVT-FAKNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway

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