Optimize Muscle Performance with Nerve Conduction Speed
Get faster, by training faster.
Nerve conduction speed is an important part of muscle performance. The proper implementation of nerve conduction speed training can significantly improve overall athletic development. To optimize nerve conduction in your programming, you must first fully understand the physics behind what it is.
The nerve conduction process begins as an electrochemical signal and results in muscle contraction and the associated force production. The force a muscle produces after nerve conduction is generally measured by the weight of an external object the produced force is able to overcome. As this produced force overcomes the external objects weight it causes the object to move. When the object moves a defined distance we now know not just how much force the muscle produced to cause the motion but also the distance the object moved. This then gives us the definition of work, which is, [work is equal to force times distance].This measure does not consider time and the same amount of work is done to move an object or one’s center of mass from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ whether it happens quickly or slowly.
Power tells us how fast this motion occurs and is defined as [work divided by time]. When a muscle can produce more force and contract faster, the time needed to move an object from point ‘a’ to point ‘b’ decreases and the neuromuscular unit becomes more powerful. Power is important to the human body because we are constantly contracting muscles to accept loads and at the same time to produce motion. When our nerve conduction can no longer keep pace with this process, we stumble against gravitational forces, exponentially increasing our risk of falling.
Simply put, nerve conduction speed is related to how quickly the body responds to a neurological stimulus. Nerve conduction training is essential in athletic programming, but it is also imperative for anyone who is aging, which is everyone!
Everyone -from professional baseball players to their grandmothers- should want to optimize their muscle performance by training their nerve conduction speed. To improve neuromuscular conduction speeds, individual baselines need to be established. Follow the guidelines below to determine one’s baseline:
(1). Time Your Baseline
With the use of a metronome or stopwatch, measure the fastest pace in which the 20-rep max of an exercise can be accomplished. Depending upon the person, it might take 20 seconds or 60 seconds; the baseline (or starting) speed doesn’t matter, so just be accurate with your assessment.
(2). Establish Maximum Power Production
Use the determined baseline (for example, 60 seconds) to set training intensity and program design. Research has shown that maximum power production occurs at around 50 % of a muscle’s maximum force production. This correlates to the 20 rep max level of resistance for functional motion exercises. Meaning the amount of weight the produced muscle force can move 20 times and no more. So, set all of your exercises around this formula and your resistance baselines for programming will be accurately set.
(3). Incorporate Weekly Over-Speed Training
Conditioning neuromuscular conduction speed involves effort, but, over time, the 20 repetition max speed established during baseline testing will improve. Incorporate nerve conduction speed training into your programming through “Over-Speed” exercises. Over-Speed exercises are exercise repetitions performed at an accelerated, or exaggerated pace. Typically, they are done with the assistance of a band on the CKC Trainer. Over-Speed exercises can be added in 1 x per week for optimal results and can be performed in any functional movement sequence (upper or lower body exercises).
(4). Reassess for Progress
Reassess progress on a monthly basis. Make sure to use the same baseline guides, so for example, if you chose to use push-ups as your baseline exercise, always reassess using push-ups. You should see significant development and progress each time you reassess.
(5). Continue Over-Speed Training
Keep Over-Speed training in your programming repertoire.
This incorporation of nerve conduction training will optimize muscle performance for clients of any ability or age.
Lower Extremity Mismatch is an important concept to understand for anyone wanting to improve their fitness programming, whether it is for themselves or for clients / patients.
During the process of bipedal evolution the structure of the human pelvis changed. The hips positioned themselves more in a frontal plane allowing for more lateral motion. (Lovejoy, 2009:326) This allowed for the stabilization needed for the single leg motions that make up the human gait pattern. The problem is that this mechanism was designed during a time when we were much smaller beings. As an aging and overweight population we are stressing this structure which leads to joint disease.
Another lower extremity mismatch occurs from disuse and lack of proper hip and knee motion. As we have become weaker due to mechanization we are less able to appropriately bend our hips and knees. This can cause excessive knee and spinal bending with squatting motions placing a great deal of stress on knee ligaments and the spine leading to joint disease. (Marras, 2005:30) Another lower extremity mismatch occurs from disuse and lack of proper hip and knee motion. As we have become weaker due to mechanization we are less able to appropriately bend our hips and knees. This can cause excessive knee and spinal bending with squatting motions placing a great deal of stress on knee ligaments and the spine leading to joint disease. (Marras, 2005:30)
The specificity principle dictates that if we want to improve or strengthen a movement pattern we need to train that specific motion. Single leg strength and balance is critical to human function and performance.
Therefore, the more consistently you train with single leg movements in mind, the more functionally prepared your body will be. Ultimately, training with the lower extremity mismatch in mind will enable you to become functionally stronger, off-setting some of the mismatch that would otherwise deteriorate your optimal health. Functionally speaking, when you take our physiological mismatches into account for the design of your programming you aren't just training arbitrarily, you are training with specificity to your optimal functionality.