What has transcranial magnetic stimulation taught us about neural adaptations to strength training? A brief review

Dawson J. Kidgell, Alan J Pearce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review


The evidence for neural mechanisms underpinningrapid strength increases has been investigated and discussed forover 30 years using indirect methods, such as surfaceelectromyography, with inferences made toward the nervoussystem. Alternatively, electrical stimulation techniques such asthe Hoffman reflex, volitional wave, and maximal wave have provided evidence of central nervous system changes at the spinal level. For 25 years, the technique of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has allowed for noninvasive supraspinal measurement of the human nervous system in a number of areas such as fatigue, skill acquisition, clinical neurophysiology,and neurology. However, it has only been within the last decade that this technique has been used to assess neural changes after strength training. The aim of this brief review is to provide an overview of TMS, discuss specific strength training studies that have investigated changes, after short-term strength training in healthy populations in upper and lower limbs, and conclude with further research suggestions and the application of this knowledge for the strength and conditioning coach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3208-3217
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Strength and Conditioning Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes

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