Neuromuscular responses to fatiguing locomotor exercise

Callum G. Brownstein*, Guillaume Y. Millet, Kevin Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
7 Downloads (Pure)


Over the last two decades, an abundance of research has explored the impact of fatiguing locomotor exercise on the neuromuscular system. Neurostimulation techniques have been implemented prior to and following locomotor exercise tasks of a wide variety of intensities, durations, and modes. These techniques have allowed for the assessment of alterations occurring within the central nervous system and the muscle, while techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation and spinal electrical stimulation have permitted further segmentalization of locomotor exercise-induced changes along the motor pathway. To this end, the present review provides a comprehensive synopsis of the literature pertaining to neuromuscular responses to locomotor exercise. Sections of the review were divided to discuss neuromuscular responses to maximal, severe, heavy and moderate intensity, high-intensity intermittent exercise, and differences in neuromuscular responses between exercise modalities. During maximal and severe intensity exercise, alterations in neuromuscular function reside primarily within the muscle. Although post-exercise reductions in voluntary activation following maximal and severe intensity exercise are generally modest, several studies have observed alterations occurring at the cortical and/or spinal level. During prolonged heavy and moderate intensity exercise, impairments in contractile function are attenuated with respect to severe intensity exercise, but are still widely observed. While reductions in voluntary activation are greater during heavy and moderate intensity exercise, the specific alterations occurring within the central nervous system remain unclear. Further work utilizing stimulation techniques during exercise and integrating new and emerging techniques such as high-density electromyography is warranted to provide further insight into neuromuscular responses to locomotor exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13533
Number of pages27
JournalActa Physiologica
Issue number2
Early online date6 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


Dive into the research topics of 'Neuromuscular responses to fatiguing locomotor exercise'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this