I had a client recently that wanted me to expand on how strength training improves brain plasticity so i figured it would make a great thread for everyone else as well.


First of all, when you train for strength you’re essentially training your nervous system. Sure, your muscles get taxed as well, but when it comes to raw strength and power, it’s all about how efficient your nervous system is.

If you’ve been training properly and doing heavy singles or even 3-5RMs, what you’ll instantaneously realize as soon as you complete the heavy lift, is that you’ll be “fried”. This feeling is due to the neurological strain you place to your CNS and not so much about muscle strain.


Your nervous system is divided into the Central Nervous System (CNS) and the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). The CNS is comprised of the brain and the spinal cord and the PNS is divided into the somatic and autonomic. All the outside sensory info like visual, auditory, chemoreceptors and somatosensory (touch) are received by the CNS and are sent to the PNS as motor info within milliseconds and induce the contraction of skeletal muscles. These contractions are responsible for the movements of the body through the somatic Nervous System.


Your reflexes and reaction times are essentially the time (the milliseconds) it takes for the info to be received and sent to and from your CNS. If you want to further improve your reaction times and reflexes you can absolutely do so, and I plan on expanding more about the topic in a future article.


There are people that were simply blessed and are stronger than others even without lifting. I’m sure most people have anecdotal evidence of somebody that they know that although has never lifted seriously, they can outfit people that have apparently been training for a while.

What they are blessed with is simply a more efficient nervous system than others.

Just because they’re genetic freaks/outliers it doesn’t mean that you can’t become equally strong or even stronger than they are. Just like in life some people have a better start than others, but if you work smart you can surpass them.

The quote “Hard work beats talent when talent stops working” means exactly that.


When it comes to the “bigger muscles equals more strength” argument, this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m sure you’re familiar with big bodybuilders that can’t lift heavy and with strongmen or powerlifters or Olympic weightlifters that although they’re not as big, can outlift bodybuilders.

You can definitely make a muscle bigger without heavy weights but it won’t be as strong as it would be if you were to lift heavy and do a ton of volume on accessory movements.

That’s why you need to do both. Become stronger via heavy weights and singles aka Max Effort training, then add all the “bodybuilding” accessories to improve weaknesses and increase muscle size. It’s essentially “powerbuilding”.

All you have to do is look at the results of the Chinese Olympic weightlifting team, Westside Barbell powerlifters, football and rugby players.

That’s how you train optimally.

Since heavy lifting is directly correlated to how efficient your nervous system is, it makes sense that strength training improves brain plasticity as well.

This can be observed at neurological patients that perform physical therapy as well. When you have a stroke or any other neurological problem you see lack of movement and strength. The goal of physical therapists that specialize in patients with neurological problems is to improve the efficiency of the nervous system and achieve movement and strength for basic movements via those adaptations. At the end of the day, the body is going to heal itself and all the therapist has to do is accelerate the recovery process.

When I was in Physical Therapy school I did some neurological clinical practice and let me tell you, I witnessed first hand how most PTs don’t actually care about their patients and didn’t really do anything that would substantially improve their condition. This was one of the reasons why I chose to quit PT altogether since it pretty much is a joke. If you know how to properly strength train, program S&C plans and do some basic myofascial releases you’re a lot better and more knowledgeable than your average PT.


For those that completely disregard anecdotal evidence and claim to be “science based”, there’s enough literature to support the claim that strength training improves brain plasticity. In this systematic review it was found that resistance exercises and resistance training evoked substantial functional brain changes, especially in the frontal lobe, which were accompanied by improvements in executive functions. Furthermore, resistance training led to lower white matter atrophy and smaller white matter lesion volumes.

This study found that exercise benefits neuroplasticity in health and disease stages by targeting different aspects of brain function, as well as delays Alzheimer’s Disease.

This systematic review showed that physical exercise was effective for increasing the production of neurotrophic factors, cell growth, and proliferation, as well as for improving brain functionality.

There are countless more studies that support that strength training improves brain plasticity, but you also need to keep in mind how pathetic the training plans they use for their studies are. If a 70 year old that does the most basic resistance training can improve his brain plasticity then imagine what you can do as a healthy 20-40 year old.

If you’re tired of getting no results in the weight room and you’re ready to level up your life you can work directly with me. For any questions shoot me a DM on Telegram or via the contact page.

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