Patten, C., Kamen, G., Rowland, D., & Du, C. C. (1995). Rapid adaptations of motor unit firing rate during the initial phase of strength development. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 27(5), Supplement abstract 34.

By isolating resistance training to the fifth finger, some mechanisms by which strength is developed were observed in young and older adults. Increases in force generation of 9% and 13%, for the younger and older groups respectively, were observed after one day's training.

The motor unit discharge rate increased significantly in concert with strength gains while there was no appreciable hypertrophy during this initial phase of strength training.

Implication. Strength development, particularly in the early stages of training, is largely involved with learning to use existing resources in a more efficient manner. If moderate strength gains are all that are needed for a sport, then they may be achieved from a "learning-to-use" focus. After a sufficient level is achieved, excessive and frequent exposures to strength training will not be required. Possibly, only infrequent "booster" learning/revision training sessions will be sufficient to maintain initial gains.

Return to Table of Contents for this issue.