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For several recent years strength conditioning professionals have preached training optimal movement patterns rather than muscle to improve athletic ability. With that being said I do believe that holds some validity but we must look at the full spectrum of kinematics in the essence of general biomechanics and force production. Training is a process and in that process there must be a set system in place from a top down approach to improve on all physical, physiological, and hormonal aspects of human performance. That’s why understanding how to efficiently activate the muscles to fire effectively that will increase force production through the given movement patterns are majorly important for overall athletic success.

The Nervous System:
It all starts with the nervous system, JL Holdsworth once said to me “before you can train you have to turn on the gym lights” basically meaning before you work the joints and muscle you must activate and redirect the neuromuscular pathway. This comes from understanding the body as a whole, we must get the nervous system firing on all cylinders to enhance the contractibility of each muscle. The way to that is through soft tissue palpations increasing the sensory afferent/efferent input to allow for muscle action to be acquired. Once this is accomplished we then want to place the body in the proper anatomical positions to allow for the contractibility of the muscles needed in a given movement.

What I learned from BodyBuilding:
I’ve recently asked in a podcast interview about what I actually learned from bodybuilding that has aided my ability to enhance athletic performance. My answer to that was I learned how to put my body in the correct positions to contract the muscles appropriately. This allowed for greater force output as a whole working through a given base set of movement patterns. Let’s face it if your glutes aren’t firing properly then it’s going to be pretty hard to squat efficiently. Placement of the feet and torque of the hips are crucial in the force application of the squat pattern. Same holds true for deadlifts and any other lower body core base movement pattern. I use a form of conjugate which allows me to assess movement through max loads I then take this evaluation over to what needs to be worked in order to bring up weak points along that particular movement. This will help me to determine what needs to be brought up to gain strength overall.

Constantly Assess:
Like I said prior I utilize Conjugate Max Effort lifts that have the highest direct correspondence to the sport which allows me to identify weak points throughout the kinetic chain. Once that’s identified I then set special exercises that work the muscles needed to be brought up from a strength and hypertrophy standpoint that will enhance movement quality and overall strength. Working in sections to improve global strength adaptions is a must when developing an athletes readiness to perform. Here are some special exercises I use based off of lower and upper body compound lifts.

Squat Deadlift Special Exercises:
• Glute Hamstring Raise
• Reverse Hypers
• Supine Hamstring Curls
• Prone Hamstring Curls
• Terminal Knee Extension
• Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
• Box Step Up
• Abductor/Adductor Machine
• Heel/Toe Raise

Press/Pull Special Exercises:
• Cable Tricep Extension
• Face Pulls
• French Press
• Hammer Curl
• Dumbbell Side/Front/Rear Lateral Raise
• JM Press
• Tate Press
• Dips
• Cable Flys
• Back Extension
• Chin Ups
• Lat Pulldowns
• Pull Over

These exercises although single joint exercises allows for the body to work as a whole more effectively. More importantly increases strength throughout the entire body again working in sections to increase global force production. Train the muscles after you have identified the weak links in the chain through the tester lifts (compound exercises). Your builders (special exercises) are there to improve on your ability to get stronger by plugging up the gaps. Make sure to always assess the lifts that have the highest relevance and properly integrate accessory special exercises accordingly.

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