It’s easy to get caught up in the daily grind of training to be an athlete. With training, you get stronger, faster, and better at what you do. But, there are some ways you can go about getting the most out of your hard work. One way to increase your mental, physical, and emotional performance is to use neuromuscular adaptation training.

Once you understand how the brain works, you can begin to train it at a deeper level. Neuroadaptation training is a holistic approach to training and performance, combining physical training (like lifting weights or running), with mental training (like cognitive behavioral therapy) and nutritional training (like intermittent fasting or using an amino acid supplement). Neuroadaptation training has been shown to help athletes improve performance (like running speed and jumping height), and it has been shown to improve cognitive performance (like cognitive flexibility and abstract reasoning)

Neuromuscular adaptation training (NMT) is a technique that has been used for decades to help athletes become faster and more powerful by increasing their neural efficiency. The technique takes advantage of the fact that our nervous system is constantly sending information to our muscles when we perform a task. If we can learn to change the way we play the game, we can improve our performance by learning how to use our brains more effectively.

In simpler terms, neural adaptation is essentially harnessing potential already within us. I am going to use random numbers here just to paint the picture. Let us say that our quadriceps have 100 motor units. However, at the present time we are only able to recruit 10 of them when we exercise. That does not mean that the other 90 motor units do not exist. As we continue to train, our nervous system will adapt and we will be able to recruit more of our motor units that are already present, and thus, we will increase our strength without increasing our size.

What does the research say about neural adaptation?

A study conducted over 30 years ago, showed the awesome effect of our nervous system. In the study, the elbow flexor muscles (or bicep muscles) were trained by the subjects. Only one arm was trained for each subject, while the other arm was considered the control. After the 8 week regimen, the strength of both biceps of each subject was measured. As expected, the cross-sectional area of the trained biceps increased by almost 10 percent; an increase in size from the training was expected. However, the researchers concluded that within the first 3-5 weeks, the main cause for the increase in strength was due to increased neuromuscular adaptation rather than muscle size. What was really interesting about the study, however, is that the untrained arm, despite not gaining any size, showed increases in strength. Without adding even one ounce of muscle, the untrained arm showed increases of over 20 percent by the end of the study.

Workouts Designed To Gain Strength Without Size

word-image-16903 Whether you’re an athlete wanting to learn how to improve strength and performance rather than size, or you simply want to get stronger and more explosive, neuromuscular adaptation workouts are a great idea. This requires a specific kind of weight lifting that you probably have never done or are simply not used to. The idea of this form of weight training is not to get fatigued. No, that is not a typo. In this type of workout, you will be performing approximately 1-5 reps per set. However, you are not lifting to failure or even close to failure. There is still a possibility that if you perform 3 reps until failure you will get bigger. If you are lifting and you notice that the weight is too heavy to explosively push the weight up, then the weight is too heavy and should be decreased. This means you may have to use half the weight you normally use. Every repetition must be explosive. The idea of this workout is to lift each rep as if it is your maximum lift in order to recruit as many motor units as possible. This will allow you to enhance your neural control. To reiterate, after each set you should not be fatigued. The idea of this workout is not to increase your muscle size, but instead, to improve your neuromuscular control.

What lifts should you be doing?

The majority of the lifts during a strength routine should be compound lifts. Compound lifts are lifts that work multiple muscle groups. Examples of compound lifts include squats, deadlifts, lunges, bench press, lat pulldown, bent over rows, etc. You are welcome to perform isolation movements, which are exercises that isolate one specific muscle group (such as seated leg extensions, hamstring curls, bicep curls, tricep extensions, lateral shoulder raise, etc.) if you notice weakness in your body at specific points, but ideally, isolation movements should be avoided. When performing these workouts, I would recommend performing Olympic lifts before conventional lifts… so cleans and jerks and snatches before bench presses. It is important that you work out larger muscle groups before smaller muscle groups (legs before back and back before chest). I would also recommend performing deadlifts before squats and primary exercises before secondary exercises (ex: squats before leg press).

How much rest between sets?

Rest is extremely important in power/strength workouts. You should be rested maximally before each set. Approximated rest time is about 3-5 minutes between sets. If you want to pair pushing and pulling movements for your upper body, you can still do so. However, it is imperative that you still get at least 3-5 minutes of rest for each specific exercise. For example, if you are pairing bent over rows with bench press, you would rest 120 seconds before moving from your set of bent over rows to your set of bench press. Thus, you would still be resting 4 minutes between sets of the same lift.

How many sets per workout

In regards to the amount of sets to do, it is optimal to perform approximately 9-12 sets per movement pattern. This does not mean per exercise, but rather means per movement. So if your movement is “pushing” then you would do 9-12 sets for that movement. Examples of pushing movements include bench presses. If your focus is flat bench press, then you would perform 6-9 sets of flat bench press and 3-4 sets of incline bench press. You can divide these workouts into upper body and lower body splits, in which you would perform 3 pushing movements and 3 pulling movements on upper body day, and 3 hip-dominant and 3 quadriceps-dominant exercises on lower body day. If you are full body training, however, it would be recommended to perform 2 pushing, 2 pulling, and 2 lower body movements during each workout. In these type of workouts, it is not necessary to have too much variation in exercises per workout. and 2 exercises per movement is adequate.Some of the most successful athletes are the ones who are able to break down the mental barriers holding them back from their goals. If you want to be a better athlete, you need to have a better brain, and one of the best ways to do this is through neuromuscular adaptation training. In this book, we give you the best training methods for the brain, and explain how you can use them to make your brain better at what it does.. Read more about neurological training for athletes and let us know what you think.

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