Power through the Central Nervous System

Guest post by Chris Barnard, Head Coach Strength Camp

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In regards to athletes, the nervous system is king!

When sprinting, jumping, throwing, and changing directions at an explosive rate, it is important to understand this is a result of the nervous system.  More important than this, it is essential to understand how athletes can train their nervous system to produce more power.  More power will increase overall performance period.

There are 2 factors we can look to sharpen in our nervous system through our training.  But before we jump into those, let’s first give a quick rundown of the actions that are taking place during movement.

Movement is initiated voluntarily or reflexively in the Central Nervous System (brain and spinal cord).

Here the brain sends a signal down the spinal cord through your nerves to a motor unit which ultimately fires your muscles.  A motor unit is composed of an alpha motor neuron and all the muscle fibers it innervates.  Larger motor units control larger muscles while smaller motor units control finer more precise muscles.

Now with the basic understanding of how the nervous system impacts movement, the 2 factors that produce efficiency in our movement are neural adaptation and rate coding.

Screen shot 2013-09-23 at 11.18.45 AMNeural adaptation can be obtained through higher bouts of intense movement patterns that pertain to overall athleticism.  When these are performed your body begins to recruit more motor units which is the firing of more muscle fibers.

Now that the proper patterns have adapted in your nervous system and more motor units are being recruited we can look at the rate coding mechanism and how we can improve it.  Rate coding can be termed as the frequency that those signals are sent from the CNS.  If we are sending that signal faster to our muscles we are able to turn them on quicker resulting in faster movement and reaction to movement.

If we are able to improve the amount of motor units we are firing and how fast we turn these muscles on we are able to see a result of increased rate of force development which is our ability to produce force fast.

To train this it takes a carefully designed program to ensure the athlete is optimizing the correct stimulus through training.  This is a result of choosing the right movements to train and manipulating how you train these movements through the Speed Strength Continuum.

My new program, Total Power Training, is a progressive program that places focus on this continuum. You will address your nervous system and overall performance with dynamic movements altered through speed, power, and strength parameters.  Paired with core, mobility, and auxiliary movements that will express more athleticism.

What the video below to learn more about Total Power Training (and how you can win a scholarship to train at Strength Camp).

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