There’s a term in the scientific world of strength and conditioning called a strength deficit. This deficit can be understood as the difference between the capacity for a muscle or group of muscles and the individual’s ability to express that potential. This deficiency, which we all have to varying degrees by the way, hinges upon neurological efficiency. Neurological efficiency is simply how well your brain tells your muscles what to do.
As you can imagine, our muscles serve as the hardware for activity. A bigger and/or denser muscle can produce more force than a smaller, less dense muscle. There are two parts to this equation, however, because big muscles can be underutilized. This is why many bodybuilders aren’t very fast or don’t put up nearly as big numbers in their lifts as relatively much smaller, more athletic individuals.
The second part of the equation is how finely tuned the brain is to telling muscle groups to apply force. Little sprinters and smaller weight-class weightlifters seemingly overachieve in their ability to apply force because they are extremely neurologically efficient. The run faster, lift heavier weights, and apply more force not because of big muscles but because of cognitive synapses that get more and more bang for the buck of muscle that’s already there.
The bigger the strength deficit the more performance we’re leaving on the table with under utilized muscle tissue. How, then, do we decrease the strength deficit?
We must develop the central nervous system.
This is done, most generally speaking, by:
- Training at 90% of one rep max or greater (1-3 reps)
- Speed work
The stress on the system at ninety percent or more of total possible output drive central nervous system adaptation primarily over hypertrophy or (obviously) muscle endurance and can have important strength deficit remedying effects.
The most effective way, however, to address the strength deficit may come from speed work, most notably plyometrics. Plyometrics would demand and control for speeds and forces that would suffice the near ninety percent expression of power anyway. When loading the system with a barbell at ninety percent, however, we aren’t moving to quickly, because the load is so heavy. With plyometrics we can increase force (F=m*A), not by increasing the mass being moved but by increasing the rate of acceleration.
For more information on plyometrics, inquire with the work of Mel Siff or Yuri Ye
Complete the following for time:
Then, complete 10 rounds for quality of:
100′ Sled Drag
– Rest as Needed –