Strength training reduces intracortical inhibition

A. T. Weier, A. J. Pearce, D. J. Kidgell

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Aim: Paired-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation was used to investigate the influence of 4 weeks of heavy load squat strength training on corticospinal excitability and short-interval intracortical inhibition (rectus femoris muscle). Methods: Participants (n = 12) were randomly allocated to a strength training or control group. The strength training group completed 4 weeks of heavy load squat strength training. Recruitment curves were constructed to determine values for the slope of the curve, V50 and peak height. Short-interval intracortical inhibition was assessed using a subthreshold (0.7 × active motor threshold) conditioning stimulus, followed 3 ms later by a supra-threshold (1.2 × active motor threshold) test stimulus. All motor evoked responses were taken during 10% of maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVC) torque and normalized to the maximal M-wave. Results: The strength training group attained 87% increases in 1RM squat strength (P < 0.01), significant increases in measures of corticospinal excitability (1.2 × Motor threshold: 116%, P = 0.016; peak height of recruitment curve = 105%, P < 0.001), and a 32% reduction in short-interval intracortical inhibition (P < 0.01) following the 4-week intervention compared with control. There were no changes in any dependent variable (P > 0.05) detected in the control group. Conclusion: Repeated high force voluntary muscle activation in the form of short-term strength training reduces short-interval intracortical inhibition. This is consistent with studies involving skilled/complex tasks or novel movement patterns and acute studies investigating acute voluntary contractions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-119
Number of pages11
JournalActa Physiologica
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Intracortical inhibition
  • Primary motor cortex
  • Strength training
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation

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