Muscle Memory - Physiology - Strength Training and Adaptations

Strength Training and Adaptations

When participating in any sport, new motor skills and movement combinations are frequently being used and repeated. All sports require some degree of strength, endurance training, and skilled reaching in order to be successful in the required tasks. Muscle memory related to strength training probably involves elements of both motor learning, described below, and long-lasting changes in the muscle tissue.

Evidence has shown that increases in strength occur well before muscle hypertrophy, and decreases in strength due to detraining or ceasing to repeat the exercise over an extended period of time precede muscle atrophy. To be specific, strength training enhances motor neuron excitability and induces synaptogenesis, both of which would help in enhancing communication between the nervous system and the muscles themselves.

However, neuromuscular efficacy is not altered within a two-week time period following cessation of the muscle usage; instead, it is merely the neuron's ability to excite the muscle that declines in correlation with the muscle's decrease in strength. This confirms that muscle strength is first influenced by the inner neural circuitry, rather than by external physiological changes in the muscle size.

Reorganization of motor maps within the cortex are not altered in either strength or endurance training. However, within the motor cortex, endurance induces angiogenesis within as little as three weeks to increase blood flow to the involved regions. In addition, neurotropic factors within the motor cortex are upregulated in response to endurance training to promote neural survival.

Skilled motor tasks have been divided into two distinct phases: a fast-learning phase, in which an optimal plan for performance is established, and a slow-learning phase, in which longer-term structural modifications are made on specific motor modules. Even a small amount of training may be enough to induce neural processes that continue to evolve even after the training has stopped, which provides a potential basis for consolidation of the task. In addition, studying mice while they are learning a new complex reaching task, has found that "motor learning leads to rapid formation of dendritic spines (spinogenesis) in the motor cortex contralateral to the reaching forelimb". However, motor cortex reorganization itself does not occur at a uniform rate across training periods. It has been suggested that the synaptogenesis and motor map reorganization merely represent the consolidation, and not the acquisition itself, of a specific motor task. Furthermore, the degree of plasticity in various locations (namely motor cortex versus spinal cord) is dependent on the behavioural demands and nature of the task (i.e., skilled reaching versus strength training).

Whether strength or endurance related, it is plausible that the majority of motor movements would require a skilled moving task of some form, whether it be maintaining proper form when paddling a canoe, or bench pressing a heavier weight. Endurance training assists the formation of these new neural representations within the motor cortex by up regulating neurotropic factors that could enhance the survival of the newer neural maps formed due to the skilled movement training. Strength training results are seen in the spinal cord well before any physiological muscular adaptation is established through muscle hypertrophy or atrophy. The results of endurance and strength training, and skilled reaching, therefore, combine to help each other maximize performance output.

Read more about this topic:  Muscle Memory, Physiology

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