In part 1 of this article we examined best practice for improving mobility & developing compliant, injury resistant muscle. In part 2 we will look at the best practice & training methods for nervous system activation. Whether the goal is athletic performance, body composition, aging gracefully or fascial fitness, progressive activation & client preparation is an essential component of an effective personal training experience. Increasing the activation of the Mechanoreceptors and Fast Twitch (FT) Muscle Fiber is an essential component of:
1. protecting joints and
2. optimizing your client’s results.
FT muscle fibers are bigger, react more quickly and more forcefully than slow twitch fibers. These muscle fibers help prevent injury in the gym and burn more calories than their slow twitch counterparts. Therefore, FT activation is an essential component of any training program. Several components listed below must be included into every client workout, and all of them within the weekly plan. Some of the key tools to muscle & workout activation include:
Muscle imbalance correction is essential to maximizing performance. The combination of inhibiting overactive muscle stimulating underactive muscle leads to a muscle capable of better joint stability and activation via proprioception & mechanoreceptor within muscles.
A specific form of joint alignment is essential towards improved muscle activation. The spinal segments and their alignment affect the mechanoreceptor of the spinal nerves, which in turn increases of decreases signaling to the brain to inhibit or fire muscles in the arms and legs. Therefore one of the major goals of ACTIVATION is core neutral. The Top 5 exercises (which I include in every client’s workout) for achieving this goal are:
- Dead Bug
- Bird Dog
- Side Plank
Balance Training: https://youtu.be/5q28lhJHJ4k
When joints are aligned & core activated, the next step is slowly wake up muscle reactivity & joint stability.
My Top 5 balance exercises are:
- 1ft Partial Squat Hand-Eye Arm Tracking
- Flat BOSU Stepping Planks
- 1ft Stiff Legged Deadlifts / Hinge
- Push-up to 5sec Side Plank
- Stability Ball Lunge
Stretch Shortening Cycle / SAQ: https://youtu.be/IE_o00V-XK4
Once muscles are capable of firing & joints stable, the next step is to stimulate fast twitch (FT) muscle fiber activation. The two best ways to optimize FT activation is high load or high velocity movement. Plyometric (hops, jumps, bounds), speed, agility & quickness (ladders, cone, line, micro hurdle) & loaded movement training (kettlebell, Bulgarian bag, med balls) are all effective at achieving FT activation.
My Top 5 SAQ exercises are:
- Kettlebell Swing
- MB Ball Hinge Floor Chest Press
- Jab Cross Combo
- Quick & Power Skips
- Ladder Twisting Hops
Heavy Resistance Training (HRT):https://youtu.be/RzRM1hQAPf0
Another effective optimizer of FT activation is heavy resistance training (i.e. 3-6RM). Loads above 80% of 1RM taken to or near fatigue will engage & train FT muscle fibers.
The Top 5 resistance exercises (which I include in every client’s workout) for achieving this goal are:
- Sumo KB or Hex Bar Deadlift
- Barbell Floor Press
- Barbell Bent over Row
- Heavy Sled Pushes
- Cable Lift
Complex Training (HRT + SSC):
One way to save time and kill two activation birds at once is to combine a HRT & biomechanically similar plyometric (SSC) or loaded movement training exercise as a superset. This superset is known as a Complex. The optimal way to combine these movements is in the resistance training section of the training program with at least 60s between completion of the HRT (1st) and SSC (2nd). Although I like complexes for a number of reasons, I also include a small SAQ section in a separate portion of the daily training template.
These are some of the most effective tools I have ever used to help set clients up for success. Given how automation is ruining our nervous systems, trainer awareness & protocols to safely prep a client’s nervous system are an essential part of our servicing standard. We look forward to seeing how you all implement this information. #teamblueshirt