Acquire the knowledge and skill to create client-specific solutions and design exercises that feel better and produce faster, more satisfying, and lasting results. In this interactive foray into neuroscience, we will explore the definition of strength (from rehab to endurance racing to strength training), how the nervous system adapts as strength changes, and how the brain and mind influence strength. We will use this information to design new strategies to increase or maintain strength. Here’s more about what we will get into.
Theory: When you’re training your body, you are training your brain and mind. The way you train your brain and mind can influence the way exercise changes your body.You know it, I know it, and from time to time, we have experienced it. So lets explore the neuroscience that supports this hypothesis, what it really means, and the opportunities that this relationship affords us. Equipped with this knowledge, we will practice the first step of how to improve the outcome of exercise and program design. I call this step, Potentiate Exercise With Purpose. Don’t worry, all those fancy terms will be defined and made relevant to you and your clients in class. And yes, we will talk a little bit about the relationship between the brain and mind.
Neuro-Logic Training – Designing repetitions with the nervous system in mind.This framework is the fruition of decades of on going study, research, and tenacious collaboration. All sources and collaborators will be clarified in class and in the course materials. We will review the literature and apply the knowledge to rethink how each repetition is designed. In this section, we will use cutting edge technology (wireless surface electromyography) to observe the neuromuscular system in action. We will see how the nervous system selectively recruits muscles based on direction of force, the amount and duration of the force. With these observations in mind, you will learn to apply principles of neuroscience to enhance the scope, depth, and specificity of your exercise design.
And even more on what we will cover.
The motor unit, its function and behavior – “A motor unit is the smallest functional subdivision of a muscle”1. As such, the motor unit is the basis for understanding several aspects of muscle function and adaptation.
• The neurological control of muscle tension
• What happens neurologically as muscles fatigue
• How motor units and the nervous system adapt to consistent exercise
• Post-Activation Potentiation2
• Motor unit activity related to increases in strength, hypertrophy, endurance, and skill.
Optimal Performance: the known mechanisms that influence the activity of a motor unit – To train for optimal performance3 or to have ideas as to why performance is sub-par, understanding the inputs that influence motor unit activity is critical. Some of the inputs to the motor unit can be adjusted to enhance performance, while others act to strategically down regulate the activity of a motor unit.
• The full story on reciprocal inhibition: it is not a law, only an opportunity
• The direct and indirect input from various areas of the brain and spinal cord to the motor unit
• The direct and indirect input from various sensory receptors to the motor unit
• Conditions that change the input and therefore excitability of the motor unit.
• Neurogenic inflammation
Light vs heavy loads to failure – From a neuromusculoskeletal perspective, delineate the differences between going to failure using a light load vs a heavy load. Use this insight to expand exercise and exercise program design.
Sensation, proprioception, and limb position acquisition – How the nervous system detects the physical characteristics of an exercise and how it recruits the necessary muscle groups, at the right time, and with the right amount of force.
The neurological and metabolic demands of concentric, eccentric, and isometric muscle contractions – We look into the relative amounts of nervous system activity and metabolic activity of motor units during each phase of a contraction. This information is key to goal, experience, and control based customization of the tempo of the concentric, eccentric, and isometric phases of a muscle group’s contraction.
Passive stretching – Passive stretching has been roundly ridiculed and labeled as a useless, if not dangerous, force application. But is it, really? We will explore the structure of the Contractile Connective Tissue Continuum (CCTC)4and observe that this tissue is not uniform in its composition or function throughout the body. For example the CCTC composition of the achilles tendon and the gastrocnemius are structurally and functionally different that the CCTC of the patellar tendon and the vastus intermedius. As a result, the force applications (like passive stretching) applied to one joint may be inappropriate for another.
Variability in the architecture of the muscle, connective tissue, and the number and types sensory receptors in joints of the body. Understanding the structural and therefore functional differences between the CCTC that surround different joints (hip vs ankle, for example) can also lead to a refinement of the design, volume, and intensity of an exercise. Therefore, exercise design, volume, and intensity can be specific to the body part, as well as to the individual.
De Luca, C. J. (2008). A Practicum on the Use of sEMG Signals in Movement Sciences. Delsys Inc.↩
Power, speed, hypertrophy, range of motion, etc.↩
The confluence of tissues that generate and transmit force from the inside of a myofiber out to and including a bone or aponeurosis↩