Neuroscience- If you don’t use it you lose it!
Neuroscience is a complex topic that takes years to understand and perfect; however, there are some basic concepts that are important to keep in mind when making strength training or lifestyle choices.
The brain has the ability to adapt. This is called plasticity. Due to plasticity, the brain can reorganize its motor function to a learned non-use. For example, If you were to completely ignore your left hand, you brain would recognize this non-use and eventually use the area of the brain responsible for the motor function of that left hand to reorganize and be used for a different function. Therefore, one could make a case for the “if you don’t use it, you lose it” phrase, and support the reason to live an active lifestyle.
Neural adaptation in muscle tissue: research has shown that the increase in muscle performance in the first two weeks of strength training are attributed to neural factors. This includes an increased number of neural receptors as well as a rise in the recruitment rate and organization. How this is applied to training? When an individual decides to return to the gym after a couple of months off, they may see gains in the first two weeks. Then around that two week mark, they will start to reach a peak in gains and start to lose that motivation because they don’t see quick progress. Usually, this is due to a peak in neural adaptation since the person is not providing a challenging stimulus that will stimulate muscle hypertrophy. In order to get desired results, an individual must make necessary changes in their strength training program.
Neural plasticity and practice. Learning and perfecting a new movement or skill will not happen overnight. Applying the principle of plasticity takes time and practice. The more complex the movement or skill, the more practi
ce will be required to cement the movement pattern for long term memory. When practicing, work on the soundness of the movement before progressing to higher weights and intensity. Why is this important? Not only will this help reduce your risk of injury, it will also help make your lifting more effective and make your strength training program more successful.
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