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Neurological Ways to Improve Strength

I’ve collected quite a few ways to improve max strength through neurological ‘tricks’.

My question is, how should they be used?

Let’s take the squat where I could:

“Do a balance challenging exercise before every workout to trigger a survival reflex that will improve your strength in complex lifts. An example would be sitting on a swiss ball. Stand on the floor with one leg with your eyes closed while getting pushed unexpectedly by a partner 2 or 3 times. Do not fatigue yourself. (Paul Chek)”

“Jump up and down as fast as possible for 10 seconds with the exact same foot stance you’re utilizing for the exercise. This will increase the activation of high-threshold, fast-firing motor units and it’ll rev up your nervous system. Increases in strength of up to 5% are often experienced!”

“Brace before unracking the bar. Step back fully braced and squeeze your glutes for just a moment. Release the glutes and descend into the hole. Explode out of the hole driving through your heels and squeezing your glutes. You’ll know you’ve done this correctly if you “pop” out of the hole. You’ll remain upright even with near maximal loads.”

I could also use supramaximal isometrics or eccentrics and I bet there are other techniques.

So what do you guys do? Use all the tricks all the time, rotate them, use them sparingly?

I think you’re missing the point though. It isn’t the trick that is important. Hell, it isn’t even a “trick” at all. Being able to visualize a goal, concentrate and devote mental focus towards it are all abilities that any athlete would need. It is the same concept behind meditation. You doing anything physically doesn’t have anything to do with it.

I understand the mental part should always be present.

What about these physical tips I’ve mentioned? How are they best used?

I could add potentiating the nervous system by icing the stomach.

[quote]Zulu wrote:

I could add potentiating the nervous system by icing the stomach.[/quote]

Are you serious Zulu? Lift to improve strength.
I would leave the ice for tea on a hot day.

[quote]Zulu wrote:
I understand the mental part should always be present.

What about these physical tips I’ve mentioned? How are they best used?

I could add potentiating the nervous system by icing the stomach.[/quote]

Where are the studies that show jumping up and down 10 times increases my strength in squats? Why not simply warm up with a lighter weight like most people? You plan on bringing ice with you to the gym just so you can put it on your stomach to wake up your central nervous system? How about CAFFEINE?!

Just to make sure you don’t take that last post as an attack Zulu, i will add.
I do not dispute the effectiveness of things like isometrics and other neurological “tricks” you posted, I was just wanting to point out that you would want to have exhausted other avenues before you look to them for strength gains.

[quote]Ironpig wrote:
Just to make sure you don’t take that last post as an attack Zulu, i will add.[/quote]

No, it wasn’t an attack. Strength gains do involve mental focus and nervous system stimulation…however, reaching that point doesn’t require “tricks”. We know that warming up with a lighter weight prepares the muscle group for a heavier weight. We know that caffeine stimulates mental focus. Sometimes, the simplest road is the right way.

Stomping is good. Jumping and landing on the heels really wakes me up too, although I don’t do it more than once or twice. Rehearsing the motion with an emphasis on a particular aspect of form that I find problematic (e.g., second pull in the o-lifts) helps me sometimes.

Other times, when I’m completely focused on the lift or after I’ve already used some of those techniques for lighter weights, I don’t feel like I need them; I just focus on being completely confident in my ability to make the lift.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
Ironpig wrote:
Just to make sure you don’t take that last post as an attack Zulu, i will add.

No, it wasn’t an attack. Strength gains do involve mental focus and nervous system stimulation…however, reaching that point doesn’t require “tricks”. We know that warming up with a lighter weight prepares the muscle group for a heavier weight. We know that caffeine stimulates mental focus. Sometimes, the simplest road is the right way.[/quote]

Prof.X I was referring to my ‘last post’ not yours. Sorry mate, I should have been more clear on that.
Just for the record, I Agree with doing warm up sets as the simpler/better option, that is what I was getting at by exhausting other avenues.

[quote]Professor X wrote:
I think you’re missing the point though. It isn’t the trick that is important. Hell, it isn’t even a “trick” at all. Being able to visualize a goal, concentrate and devote mental focus towards it are all abilities that any athlete would need. It is the same concept behind meditation. You doing anything physically doesn’t have anything to do with it.[/quote]

Amen brother, I concur!

The ?tricks? you mentioned should only be used by experienced athletes, not newbie?s or novices. Save the tricks until there needed.

The said ?tricks? are valid and do work, but when used out of context can be detrimental instead of potentiating the central nervous system. It?s possible to arouse the CNS to much. The Soviets were very careful in how they used those ?tricks? in fact they planed them out in advanced. Bolivia?s Olympic weightlifting coaches actually peridizes such ?tricks?.

I would agree that over psyching and misused proprioception techniques can be detrimental. Practicaly speaking, the best place for me to be is at the optimal level of arousal and focus. Not necessarily the highest.The more complex the task, the less good psyching does.
Just prior to a heavy lift I like to breath deeply through the nose, hold for a couple of secs. while squeezing with the abs., and breath out through the nose, blocking off most of the nostrils. This activates a nerve plate in the sinuses and triggers an arousal response. Almost the same as power lifters, minus the smelling salts.
Not too much, not too little, just right for me. Looks kind of wierd though.

mindeffer, so you breathe in, hold it a coupla secs, flex abs, breathe out, keep flexed abs then lift. are you saying you lift with empty lungs or full lungs?

I always found Jump Squats before a squatting session helped me lift heavier and excited my nervous system for increased strength.

On the jump squats, the key is to have the elbows under the bar pointing straight down ( good power line). Next the athlete squats into what I call a high 1/2 squat position, and attempts to drive the feet through the floor in a violent change of direction— try to reach maximum height each jump (I tell my athletes to feel sensation of reaching for the ceiling w/ their head, and to point the toes down on lift off). Keep the bar tight to the traps and upon landing repeat w/out pause. When done correctly it looks like weighted hopping in place. Remember this is more plyometrics and a stimuli for the nervous system to prepare the fast twitch muscle fibers to fire!

Hope this gives you some guidelines.

I believe about 10-12% of your squatting weight used for that day is or was the best for me.

E.g. 122.5kgs squats

use 12kgs or 15kgs

or if your doing Cleans use 26%

E.g. 330lbs

use 88 lbs

Zulu: Not to sound condescending, but unless you are an elite athlete in your chosen sport, and have developed your neurological system to a high degree, you should just stick to the “basics” as far as neurological tricks are concerned. What works for an elite olympic lifter will not necessarily produce the same response in you because of the disparity in the development of each neurologically.

Having said that, there is nothing wrong with you trying various protocols and seeing what works and what does not.

If you want I can give you plenty of references.

Read CT?s excellent article on this very topic at:

http://www.t-nation.com/readTopic.do?id=459228

How well do you all find that depth jumps work before max lifts?

I have only tried these a couple times, and only before peak singles. Didn’t seem to work as well as just focusing and jumping once.