Strengthening the Nervous System
Written by Bryce Smith
All of us want to lift more weight – and I might have a trick up my sleeve that can lead to more strength gains.
Some of us know and understand the “SAID” principle (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands). For those of us that are not familiar with this, the principle states that when stress is placed on the human body both biomechanically and neurologically, it will find a way to adapt to it.
Knowing that, we can conclude that the more frequently you perform an exercise, the stronger your body will become and the faster it will recover from that given movement. Many athletes already do a ton of volume so asking an athlete to do more volume to get stronger has the potential to lead to overtraining and placing too much stress on the joints.
What if there was a low volume way to strengthen the nervous system and enhance strength gains while practicing safe and efficient movement patterns?
One method you could use would be build to a heavy single in a particular movement each day. That heavy single does not need to be a one rep max, but simply a “heavy” for that day. You should never reach mechanical failure or getting sloppy with technique in these movements. Many of you just gasped and thought to yourself, “Is this guy serious?” But, hear me out. Let’s use the squat as a sample movement.
If you squat to a daily max, it sounds a little intimidating and even potentially dangerous, but the benefits can be enormous. At the end of your workout assuming you didn’t squat super heavy or 90+ percent in that session, simply build to a heavy single or double for that day. Like I said above, the loads used do not necessarily have to reflect your actual one rep max. The goal is to build by feel using a low-volume ramp up keeping technical proficiency as the priority. It is important to account for the fatigue factor since you are squatting at the conclusion of your session. The key is to keep these squats at low volume. For the warm up sets, be sure to perform the least number of sets possible in order to preserve anaerobic energy stores for the heavier sets and avoid muscular failure.
By implementing this SAID method into your training, you expose your central nervous system to that “heavy” stress more frequently than if you did not apply this method. In theory, the more frequently you squat or lift heavy, the stronger your body will become, and the faster you will recover from it. By building to a heavy single each day, heavier loads at 90+ percent will not seem so crazy and your confidence will be at all time highs on days when the main goal is to hit a new one rep max.