Resistance training enhances the stability of sensorimotor coordination

Timothy J. Carroll, Barry Benjamin, Riek Stephan, Richard G. Carson

Abstract

Strategies for the control of human movement are constrained by the neuroanatomical characteristics of the motor system. In particular, there is evidence that the capacity of muscles for producing force has a strong influence on the stability of coordination in certain movement tasks. In the present experiment, our aim was to determine whether physiological adaptations that cause relatively long–lasting changes in the ability of muscles to produce force can influence the stability of coordination in a systematic manner. We assessed the effects of resistance training on the performance of a difficult coordination task that required participants to synchronize or syncopate movements of their index finger with an auditory metronome. Our results revealed that training that increased isometric finger strength also enhanced the stability of movement coordination. These changes were accompanied by alterations in muscle recruitment patterns. In particular, the trained muscles were recruited in a more consistent fashion following the programme of resistance training. These results indicate that resistance training produces functional adaptations of the neuroanatomical constraints that underlie the control of voluntary movement.