Friday, January 4, 2013

#“For performance gains, the nervous system is the key”

Oftentimes the nervous system, not the muscular apparatus is the limiting factor in force production. Tsatsouline stated that “Your muscles already have the strength to lift a car, they just don’t know it yet” (Tsatsouline, 2000). I agree with that statement and feel that it’s a good image to help understand the potential improvement in force production by developing the nervous system. Let us use Tsatsouline’s example. Feats of strength by apparent weaklings are common. Just think of the frail middle-aged women who suddenly possess superhuman strength when her child gets trapped under an automobile or another heavy apparatus. There are many documented cases in which the woman was actually able to lift the car off the ground to free her child. A feat that she could not repeat in a million years under normal circumstances. Sure her strength was potentiated by adrenaline and other hormones, but the muscles that lifted the car were the same she already had, new muscles didn’t blossom out of nowhere to help her lift the car! The stress and extreme stimulation from the situation simply improved her capacity to produce force with the muscles she already had! Neurotransmission was improved, protective mechanisms were shutdown, sensory feedback was ignored … All of this made her able to work to her full potential, something that we don’t come remotely close to doing under regular circumstances. By now it should be clear to you that the limit in force production lies in the nervous system. The greater the proportion of his strength potential an athlete can use is, the better he’ll be. The difference between absolute strength (the full potential for strength production) and limit strength (the actual maximum strength that an individual can voluntarily produce) is termed the strength deficit.