Not all brawn, but some brain. Strength gains after training alters kinematic motor abundance in hopping

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Bernard Liew
  • Andrew Morrison
  • Hiroaki Hobara
  • Susan Morris
  • Kevin Netto

External organisations

  • Sport and Exercise Sciences, Faculty of Science and technology, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, United Kingdom.
  • Human Informatics Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tokyo, Japan.
  • School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Sciences, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.


Background: The effects of resistance training on a muscle's neural, architectural, and mechanical properties are well established. However, whether resistance training can positively change the coordination of multiple motor elements in the control of a well-defined lower limb motor performance objective remains unclear. Such knowledge is critical given that resistance training is an essential and ubiquitous component in gait rehabilitation. This study aimed to investigate if strength gains of the ankle and knee extensors after resistance training increases kinematic motor abundance in hopping.

Methods: The data presented in this study represents the pooled group results of a sub-study from a larger project investigating the effects of resistance training on load carriage running energetics. Thirty healthy adults performed self-paced unilateral hopping, and strength testing before and after six weeks of lower limb resistance training. Motion capture was used to derive the elemental variables of planar segment angles of the foot, shank, thigh, and pelvis, and the performance variable of leg length. Uncontrolled manifold analysis (UCM) was used to provide an index of motor abundance (IMA) in the synergistic coordination of segment angles in the stabilization of leg length. Bayesian Functional Data Analysis was used for statistical inference, with a non-zero crossing of the 95% Credible Interval (CrI) used as a test of significance.

Results: Depending on the phase of hop stance, there were significant main effects of ankle and knee strength on IMA, and a significant ankle by knee interaction effect. For example at 10% hop stance, a 1 Nm/kg increase in ankle extensor strength increased IMA by 0.37 (95% CrI [0.14-0.59]), a 1 Nm/kg increase in knee extensor strength decreased IMA by 0.29 (95% CrI [0.08-0.51]), but increased the effect of ankle strength on IMA by 0.71 (95% CrI [0.10-1.33]). At 55% hop stance, a 1 Nm/kg increase in knee extensor strength increase IMA by 0.24 (95% CrI [0.001-0.48]), but reduced the effect of ankle strength on IMA by 0.71 (95% CrI [0.13-1.32]).

Discussion: Resistance training not only improves strength, but also the structure of coordination in the control of a well-defined motor objective. The role of resistance training on motor abundance in gait should be investigated in patient cohorts, other gait patterns, and its translation into functional improvements.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere6010
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2018


  • Resistance training, Spring-mass model, Synergy, Uncontrolled manifold