Sports Medicine

, Volume 37, Issue 9, pp 737–763 | Cite as

The Molecular Bases of Training Adaptation

  • Vernon G. Coffey
  • John A. HawleyEmail author
Review Article


Skeletal muscle is a malleable tissue capable of altering the type and amount of protein in response to disruptions to cellular homeostasis. The process of exerciseinduced adaptation in skeletal muscle involves a multitude of signalling mechanisms initiating replication of specific DNA genetic sequences, enabling subsequent translation of the genetic message and ultimately generating a series of amino acids that form new proteins. The functional consequences of these adaptations are determined by training volume, intensity and frequency, and the half-life of the protein. Moreover, many features of the training adaptation are specific to the type of stimulus, such as the mode of exercise. Prolonged endurance training elicits a variety of metabolic and morphological changes, including mitochondrial biogenesis, fast-to-slow fibre-type transformation and substrate metabolism. In contrast, heavy resistance exercise stimulates synthesis of contractile proteins responsible for muscle hypertrophy and increases in maximal contractile force output. Concomitant with the vastly different functional outcomes induced by these diverse exercise modes, the genetic and molecular mechanisms of adaptation are distinct. With recent advances in technology, it is now possible to study the effects of various training interventions on a variety of signalling proteins and early-response genes in skeletal muscle. Although it cannot presently be claimed that such scientific endeavours have influenced the training practices of elite athletes, these new and exciting technologies have provided insight into how current training techniques result in specific muscular adaptations, and may ultimately provide clues for future and novel training methodologies. Greater knowledge of the mechanisms and interaction of exercise-induced adaptive pathways in skeletal muscle is important for our understanding of the aetiology of disease, maintenance of metabolic and functional capacity with aging, and training for athletic performance. This article highlights the effects of exercise on molecular and genetic mechanisms of training adaptation in skeletal muscle.


Resistance Training Satellite Cell Resistance Exercise Endurance Training Mitochondrial Biogenesis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Work from our laboratory on training adaptation was supported by research grants from the Australian Sports Commission and the RMIT University VRI II grant scheme. The authors have no conflicts of interest relevant to the contents of this article.


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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Medical Sciences, Exercise Metabolism GroupRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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