Spontaneous functional recovery following injury to the adult central nervous system can be enhanced with increased and focused activity, either through altered behaviour (skill learning, exercise or training) or by artificial stimulation (magnetic or electrical). In terms of training, the choice of paradigm plays a key role in the recovered behaviour. Here we show that task-specific training leads to improved forelimb function that can be translated to a novel forelimb task. Adult Long–Evans rats received a unilateral pyramidotomy and we studied the effects of different post-lesion training paradigms for their ability to recover function in the impaired limb. We trained rats on either the single pellet grasping or the horizontal ladder task. Rats were tested on both tasks regardless of the training paradigm and also on a related, but novel forelimb task, the Staircase. Horizontal ladder training led to full recovery of this task, and also limited recovery on the familiar but untrained single pellet grasping task. In comparison, single pellet grasping training led to a smaller improvement on the horizontal ladder, but interestingly the same degree of recovery on the single pellet grasping task as horizontal ladder trained animals. Both training groups performed equally well on a novel, untrained forelimb grasping task. These results show that task-specific forelimb training can lead to functional recovery also in non-trained, complex, forelimb movements. Anatomically, only single pellet grasping training was associated with enhanced sprouting of the intact corticospinal tract across the cervical spinal cord midline to innervate the denervated side of the spinal cord.