Determining the Corticospinal Responses to Single Bouts of Skill and Strength Training Academic Article uri icon


  • Mason, J, Frazer, AK, Jaberzadeh, S, Ahtiainen, JP, Avela, J, Rantalainen, T, Leung, M, and Kidgell, DJ. Determining the corticospinal responses to single bouts of skill and strength training. J Strength Cond Res 33(9): 2299-2307, 2019-Neuroplastic changes in the primary motor cortex accompany performance improvements following motor practice. Recent evidence suggests that the corticospinal responses to strength and skill training are similar, following both a single session and repeated bouts of training, promoting discussion that strength training is a form of motor learning. However, these findings are limited by the lack of a light-load strength training group. Therefore, the aim of the current study was to determine whether a single session of heavy-load strength training, light-load strength training or skill training differentially modulates the corticospinal pathway. Transcranial magnetic stimulation was used to assess the excitatory and inhibitory circuitry of the motor cortex following a single session of skill training, and following a single session of light-load and heavy-load strength training. Following a single session of training, participants in all groups experienced comparable increases in corticospinal excitability (ranging from 38 to 46%, all p < 0.05); however, disparity was observed in the inhibitory responses. Corticospinal inhibition was reduced in all 3 single-sessions, although to a greater magnitude in the heavy-load and skill-training sessions (22 and 18% respectively, compared with 11% following light-load training, all p < 0.05). Short-interval intracortical inhibition was reduced immediately following single sessions of heavy-load strength training (40% p < 0.05) and skill training (47% p < 0.05), but remained unchanged the following light-load strength training session. It appears that the corticospinal responses to single sessions of different types of strength and skill training are task-dependent. These findings reinforce the notion that strength training, at least when heavily-loaded, can be considered a form of motor learning, potentially because of the sensory feedback involved.


  • Mason, Joel
  • Frazer, Ashlyn K
  • Jaberzadeh, S
  • Ahtiainen, JP
  • Avela, J
  • Rantalainen, T
  • Leung, M
  • Kidgell, Dawson J

publication date

  • 2019