Strength training changes brain and nervous system before muscles: study

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In a new study published on June 29 in the Journal of Neuroscience, scientists claim that workouts such as weight lifting alter the brain before making major changes to the muscles.

In their experiment, scientists taught macaque monkeys to strength train. In the process, they analyzed how exercise transformed their bodies and brains. The results of the study revealed that weight lifting strengthens the nervous system through reticulo-spinal tract.

The tract is primarily responsible for postural control and locomotion. The researchers found that it was first stimulated before any muscle in the body.

Isabel Glover, author of the Newcastle University study, recounts Reverse this strength is not just a question of muscle mass. She says strength builds up because neural supply to muscles increases early in weightlifting. Muscles don’t start to grow until a few weeks later, after starting the activity.

The subjects of the study were macaque monkeys, whose brain systems were considered to be similar to humans, especially when it comes to movement. According to Stuart Baker, another co-author of the study, the results of the study should be tightly transposable to humans.

The researchers point out that people who lift but don’t see immediate changes in their body should be aware that something is going on in their system. Plus, intense neural changes in the brain can lead to long-term physiological benefits.

Also read: Complementary sports to improve your running performance

The link between the brain and the body

In the study, the team stimulated the monkey’s motor cortex and two motor pathways, namely the corticospinal tract (CST) and the reticulospinal tract (RST). They also measured electrical activity in their arm muscles as they lifted weights.

The main track, CST, carries information related to the movement of the cerebellum to the spinal cord. This path allows animals and humans to move their limbs and trunk, especially when walking or grabbing objects. Meanwhile, the old way of development, RST, recognized as less dominant, influences muscle tone and posture.

Throughout the training regimen, the team saw significant increases in strength in the old evolutionary pathway (RST) and no change in the main pathway (CST).

After three months of strength training the monkeys, the RST stimulation produced a greater response from the side of the spinal cord linked to the trained arm. The researchers found that in general, the results of RST became more effective during weight training.

Baker explains how their results show that strength training initially increases the intensity of connections from the reticulo-spinal tract to the spinal cord. Once the link is established, the muscles are then even more activated. He adds that this happens early and the muscles only grow bigger later, giving off maximum strength.

Possible Benefits of Strength Training for Stroke Patients

According to Glover, the results of their study are applicable to bodybuilders and could help stroke patients as well.

If the neural mechanisms of force can be studied, help for people with loss of strength could also be developed.

Since the indirect pathway is also involved in stroke recovery, this implies that improving the function of a poor hand rendered stroke by stroke could use the same means as strength training in a stroke. young healthy bodybuilder, says Baker.


Also read: Exercise brings more joy than money, study finds

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