T Nation

Motor Unit Recruitment?


Do closed chain exercises (such as squats and pushups) recruit more motor units to get the job done than do their open chained relatives (bench for pushups and leg press for squats for example).

If that is the case, would it make sense to do heavy weighted pushups, chins, dips, squats, and any other closed chain movement to stimulate a more vast array of motor units? Or does it not work like that...

Thanks guys, this is really puzzling me!


I would think so due to irridiation but you might one to ask one of the experts in the authors locker room.


Which one do ya think? Maybe Chad since he knows his stuff pertaining to the CNS?

Thanks for the advice.:slight_smile:


Exercises don't recruit the motor units. Your brain does.


CW or CT would know.



Belligerent- I know your brain determines what MUs come into play, but in general, I'm trying to understand whether a closed chain exercise like a pushup, would recruit more MUs than a bench press (because there's more total body involvement and you're moving your body through space or something like that).

And if that were the case, wouldn't it be more efficient to do such movements for hypertrophy/mass than other exercises.


you need to be more specific... obviously the more compound an exercise, the more motor unit recruitment you will get...

but if you're talking about motor units within a given muscle, the amount of motor unit recreuitment is going to be determined by the amount of resistance/weight used, the speed of contraction, and the amount of fatigue induced in the given muscle.

a push-up will not necessarily recruit more pectoral more units than a bench press, for example. it depends on how the exercises are performed.


This is what I'm trying to get at I guess. In general, with similar loading parameters (as similar as you can get them anyway, which I'm sure is apples and oranges anyways), would something like a pushup recruit more MUs in the triceps, shoulders, and pectorals as opposed to in the bench press?

Then there's also just in general, with similar loading parameters, would the pushup recruit more MUs than the bench overall?