European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 117, Issue 7, pp 1359–1371 | Cite as

Adaptations in corticospinal excitability and inhibition are not spatially confined to the agonist muscle following strength training

  • Joel Mason
  • Ashlyn Frazer
  • Deanna M. Horvath
  • Alan J. Pearce
  • Janne Avela
  • Glyn Howatson
  • Dawson Kidgell
Original Article

Abstract

Purpose

We used transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to determine the corticospinal responses from an agonist and synergist muscle following strength training of the right elbow flexors.

Methods

Motor-evoked potentials were recorded from the biceps brachii and flexor carpi radialis during a submaximal contraction from 20 individuals (10 women, 10 men, aged 18–35 years; training group; n = 10 and control group; n = 10) before and after 3 weeks of strength training at 80% of 1-repetition maximum (1-RM). To characterise the input–output properties of the corticospinal tract, stimulus–response curves for corticospinal excitability and inhibition of the right biceps brachii and flexor carpi radialis were constructed and assessed by examining the area under the recruitment curve (AURC).

Results

Strength training resulted in a 29% (P < 0.001) increase in 1-RM biceps brachii strength and this was accompanied by a 19% increase in isometric strength of the wrist flexors (P = 0.001). TMS revealed an increase in corticospinal excitability AURC and a decrease in silent period duration AURC for the biceps brachii and flexor carpi radialis following strength training (all P < 0.05). However, the changes in corticospinal function were not associated with increased muscle strength.

Conclusion

These findings show that the corticospinal responses to strength training of a proximal upper limb muscle are not spatially restricted, but rather, results in a change in connectivity, among an agonist and a synergistic muscle relevant to force production.

Keywords

Agonist Corticospinal excitability Corticospinal inhibition Voluntary strength Strength training Synergist 

Abbreviations

1RM

One-repetition maximum

AURC

Area under the recruitment curve

AMT

Active motor threshold

CMEPs

Cervicomedullary motor–evoked potentials

GABA

γ-Aminobutyric acid

LTP

Long-term potentiation

MEPs

Motor-evoked potentials

MVIC

Maximal voluntary isometric contraction

M1

Primary motor cortex

rmsEMG

Root-mean square electromyography

sEMG

Surface electromyography

SICI

Short-interval cortical inhibition

TMS

Transcranial magnetic stimulation

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joel Mason
    • 1
  • Ashlyn Frazer
    • 1
  • Deanna M. Horvath
    • 2
  • Alan J. Pearce
    • 1
  • Janne Avela
    • 3
  • Glyn Howatson
    • 4
    • 5
  • Dawson Kidgell
    • 1
  1. 1.Discipline of Exercise Science, School of Allied HealthLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Microbiology, School of Life SciencesLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Biology and Physical ActivityUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland
  4. 4.Department of Sport, Exercise and RehabilitationNorthumbria UniversityNewcastleUK
  5. 5.Water Research Group, School of Environmental Sciences and DevelopmentNorthwest UniversityPotchefstroomSouth Africa

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