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Muscle Adaptation

Fire up your Central Nervous System to maximize Muscular Adaptation

By Sal Di Stefano on Jun 25, 2016 5:10:00 AM
4 Minutes Reading Time

Maximizing your central nervous system for your heavy lifts will increase your overall strength and the adaptive response you gain from heavy lifts by a significant margin. How do we do this?? By tightening and calling upon all your muscles…

Years ago I witnessed a strength athlete bench pressing an ungodly amount of weight. What was truly impressive was his size…he was a SMALL GUY yet he was lifting a weight that most pro bodybuilders would crumble under. I watched him as he grounded his feet into the floor and tightened his hips, thighs and core. His grip was so tight it looked like he was trying to squeeze through the bar. He lowered the weight slowly, paused at his chest and BOOM lifted the weight for a heavy single rep. At this moment it finally made sense to me why powerlifters always gave the advice to have “good leg and hip drive” when bench pressing. I never understood why they did this “leg drive” before..aside from stabilizing your body, the legs and hips don’t really lift anything when you bench….but now it all made sense!!

Try this experiment…with one hand take an object and squeeze it as hard as you can except make sure the rest of your entire body is completely RELAXED…it's hard to do at first since your natural instinct is to tense up the rest of your body including your face. Now repeat the squeeze but this time squeeze your entire body along with your grip. You probably noticed that you were significantly STRONGER when you tensed up your entire body vs when only your grip was activated.

This is due to the full body activation of the CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (CNS). Think of your CNS as the amplifier of the body and your muscles as the speakers…you can have big huge powerful speakers but with a small weak amplifier you won’t get much sound coming out of the speakers at all. Naturally and instinctually we know this which is why it was hard for you to squeeze as hard as you could while keeping the rest of your body relaxed…your body naturally wanted to TURN UP your CNS for max effort.

Traditional bodybuilding routines teach you to focus and concentrate on one target muscle while training…”feel your pecs..” While this particular “shutting down the CNS strategy” has some uses (with correctional exercise for example) doing this all the time as bodybuilding programs prescribe will result in less CNS adaptation which ultimately results in less muscular performance and muscle size especially if you are natural.

When you are doing a set of a heavy exercise for low reps (1-4 reps) as prescribed in phase 1 of MAPS makes sure to “turn on” your CNS by tensing up your body. Grip the bar HARD, tighten your core, and stabilize yourself by activating your whole body. This technique is incredibly effective with low rep heavy sets but it loses its effect with higher rep sets…try this technique in phase 3 for example and you will exhaust yourself in a hurry. It isn’t uncommon for lifters to notice an immediate strength increase when applying this technique with low rep sets.

Do not neglect the awesome power of your CNS…train it to adapt and build just like your muscles for incredible strength, power and enhanced muscular adaptation. Practice this technique throughout phase 1 of your MAPS training for maximum results. Train your CNS effectively to be able to switch on for max power when called upon and you will be blown away by the results


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Sal Di Stefano

Sal is one of the hosts of the Mind Pump Podcast. At the age of 18 his passion for the art and science of resistance training was so consuming that he decided to make it a profession and become a personal trainer. By 19 he was managing health clubs and by 22 he owned his own gym. After 17 years as a personal trainer he has dedicated himself to bringing science and TRUTH to the fitness industry.

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