Unilateral strength training increases voluntary activation of the opposite untrained limb

Lee, Michael, Gandevia, Simon C. and Carroll, Timothy J. (2009) Unilateral strength training increases voluntary activation of the opposite untrained limb. Clinical Neurophysiology, 120 4: 802-808. doi:10.1016/j.clinph.2009.01.002

Author Lee, Michael
Gandevia, Simon C.
Carroll, Timothy J.
Title Unilateral strength training increases voluntary activation of the opposite untrained limb
Journal name Clinical Neurophysiology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1388-2457
Publication date 2009-02-18
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.clinph.2009.01.002
Volume 120
Issue 4
Start page 802
End page 808
Total pages 7
Editor M. Hallett
Place of publication Shannon, Ireland
Publisher Elsevier Ireland Ltd
Collection year 2010
Language eng
Subject C1
920111 Nervous System and Disorders
970117 Expanding Knowledge in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
110603 Motor Control
1109 Neurosciences
Formatted abstract

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.


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).


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.


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


The data show for the first time that an increase in cortical drive contributes to the contralateral strength training effect.
Keyword cross education
twitch interpolation
transcranial magnetic stimulation
resistance training
neural drive
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2010 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences Publications
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 42 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 50 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Wed, 25 Nov 2009, 13:44:05 EST by Deborah Noon on behalf of School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences