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Clin Neurophysiol. 2009 Apr;120(4):802-8. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2009.01.002. Epub 2009 Feb 18.

Unilateral strength training increases voluntary activation of the opposite untrained limb.

Author information

1
Health and Exercise Science, School of Medical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

We investigated whether an increase in neural drive from the motor cortex contributes to the cross-limb transfer of strength that can occur after unilateral strength training.

METHODS:

Twitch interpolation was performed with transcranial magnetic stimulation to assess changes in strength and cortical voluntary activation in the untrained left wrist, before and after 4 weeks of unilateral strength-training involving maximal voluntary isometric wrist extension contractions (MVCs) for the right wrist (n=10, control group=10).

RESULTS:

Wrist extension MVC force increased in both the trained (31.5+/-18%, mean+/-SD, p<0.001) and untrained wrist (8.2+/-9.7%, p=0.02), whereas wrist abduction MVC did not change significantly. The amplitude of the superimposed twitches evoked during extension MVCs decreased by 35% (+/-20%, p<0.01), which contributed to a significant increase in voluntary activation (2.9+/-3.5%, p<0.01). Electromyographic responses to cortical and peripheral stimulation were unchanged by training. There were no significant changes for the control group which did not train.

CONCLUSION:

Unilateral strength training increased the capacity of the motor cortex to drive the homologous untrained muscles.

SIGNIFICANCE:

The data show for the first time that an increase in cortical drive contributes to the contralateral strength training effect.

PMID:
19230754
DOI:
10.1016/j.clinph.2009.01.002
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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