Workout Tips

Activate Your Central Nervous System for Maximum Performance

Igniting your central nervous system could be the key to maximizing your performance in the weightroom.


Would you jump in a high performance car and mash the gas pedal down right away? Of course not, you need to warm it up and rev its engine up. So why would you get under the bar and expect maximum performance out of your body (a far more complex machine than a race car) if you haven’t revved up your own engine?

Activating Your CNS

Using plyometrics or other explosive movements to ignite your central nervous system (CNS) could be the key to maximizing your performance in the weightroom. As an elite level shot putter, I understand the critical role of speed and power in athletic performance. The faster you can push the bar, the more muscle fibers you will recruit and the more weight you will lift. Using explosive movements prior to your heavy training will prepare and teach your body to move with maximal velocity and force. This effect is known as postactivation potentiation (PAP) and is the increase in muscle force and rate of force development as a result of previous activation of the muscle.

Preparation Exercises

Once you have performed a proper dynamic warmup, a number of exercises can be used to light up your CNS before your heavy training. Before squatting, seated box jumps, jump squats or kettlebell swings are all excellent options. Prior to deadlifting, perform cleans or snatches from a dead start or beyond the range kettlebell swings (these KB swings will not only light up your CNS, they are also great builders of power off the floor and will improve hip mobility). To prepare yourself for bench training, plyo pushups or medball chest passes will get you ready to explode the bar off of your chest. It is imperative that these exercises are not performed in a manner to fatigue the muscles, rather they should be performed with maximal intensity and in short durations.