Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jump Start Your Lower Body Training

To say that your central nervous system (CNS) plays a role in muscular efficiency and development is putting it mildly.  Respecting and paying attention to the CNS is of paramount importance when undergoing a training program.

Imagine your CNS being the puppeteer, and your muscle fibers are the puppets.  Cheesy analogy, I know, but I hope it drives home the point.  Or, you can think of the CNS as the engine, and the muscle fibers as the car.  In both examples, the latter cannot move without involvement of the former.  You can't have muscular contraction without CNS involvement, plain and simple.

Forgive me while I get a bit "geeky."  For those of you who just want to see the video, jump to the bottom of the post. 

The nervous system (among many other things) plays a critical role in both:
  1. Rate Coding, or the frequency of action potentials (signals that lead to fiber contraction) elicited during movement.
  2. Recruitment, or the number of motor units that are involved in muscular contraction.  
(A motor unit is the motor neuron and all the muscle fibers that it innervates)
A Motor Unit

The more "awake" your nervous system is, you'll have higher frequency of rate coding and more motor unit recruitment taking place as you train. 

Take home point: the more "excited" your CNS is, the more you'll take away from your training session.  That's where the Hot Ground to Tuck Jump comes in.  It will help to "wake up" your CNS, if you will, jump starting the remainder of your training session.  Not to mention, it will provide a great extended warm-up for your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and hip flexors.  

When to use it:
  1. Before a lower body training session, or a "leg day" for you bodybuilders in the crowd
  2. Perform it after you're dynamic warm-up, movement prep, and corrective exercise (or whatever you do for a warm-up). 
  3. I don't recommend using it until you've mastered various box jump and altitude landing progressions.  Basically: don't jump into it (pun intended) too soon.
  4. Do 2-4 sets of 3-5 reps.  
Coaching cues:
  1. Begin with your feet off the ground.  Rock forward and try to reduce ground contact time as much as possible (hence the name "hot ground" to tuck jump). 
  2. Swing the arms UP as you launch upwards.  This may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many people don't know what to do with their arms as they jump.  
  3. As you jump upwards, bring the knees as high as possible (the "tuck" portion). 
  4. Land softly, with the chest up and hips back.  Sometimes I cue our athletes to "act like your breaking into my house through a window."  What I'm trying to say is: if you were breaking into someone's home, you'd try to make as little noise as possible upon landing inside.  Many people tend to SLAM their feet in the landing phase of jumping drills.  Avoid this as best as you can.  
You'll notice I get slightly higher with each succeeding jump.  This is simply due to my body "waking up" if you will.  


    Tim said...

    Anatomy and physiology lessons are hot. More please!

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