Versus Arthritis Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis
University of Nottingham

Physiological adaptations to explosive strength training


  • Thigh muscle weakness is a risk factor for both osteoarthritis (OA) onset and progression.
  • Strength training can be used to bring about adaptations of the nervous system, muscle size, muscle structure, and connective tissue (size and stiffness) that can modify this OA risk factor.
  • The nature of these adaptations can have implications for function, joint stability, and resistance to injury.
  • Therefore, strength training could influence prevention and management of OA.
  • Our laboratory recently demonstrated that Explosive Strength Training (e.g. repeated ~1 second efforts requiring rapid force production) can increase muscle and tendon tissue stiffness after only 4 weeks (quicker than has previously been reported with other types of strength training).
  • Further investigation of the physiological adaptations to Explosive Strength Training over a longer intervention period (12 weeks) is clearly warranted.

What the research hopes to achieve

The research will determine if explosive strength training and conventional strength training (e.g. training involving repeated 4 second efforts and steady force production) will produce differing: 

  • Force production and nervous system adaptations.
  • Knee tendon size, thigh muscle size, and thigh muscle structural adaptations.
  • Knee tendon and thigh muscle connection tissue stiffness (e.g. the relationship between muscle force produced and tissue elongation) adaptations.
Work Package

Mechanisms of Movement Dysfunction and Interventions (WP3)

Biomarkers (WP2)

Principal Investigator Dr Jonathan Folland (Loughborough University)
Investigators Thomas Balshaw
Collaborator University of Roehampton, London