There’s a simple way to lift more weight than ever before on your Bench Press and Deadlift. To unlock your strength and power, all you need to do is activate your central nervous system before the lifts.
To properly prepare your body for pain-free training, before you even get into your big lifts like the Bench Press, Squat and Deadlift, you should perform a thorough dynamic warm-up consisting of six phases.
- Self Myofascial Release (SMR)
- Dynamic Stretching
- Corrective Exercise
- Foundational Movement Pattern Development
- Central Nervous System Stimulation
Since methods like foam rolling, stretching and corrective exercises are pretty well known in the sports performance industry, I want to key in on the last phase, which arguably has the highest carryover into injury prevention and performance enhancement.
Here are my two favorite ways to end my athletes’ dynamic warm-ups with a bang—with twitchy dynamic movements that translate extremely well into enhanced performance in the big lifts like the Bench Press and Deadlift, which are pivotal aspects of my 12-Week Functional Hypertrophy Training Program.
Do This CNS Activation Drill Before Bench Pressing
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The CNS stimulating superset above combines the Twitchy Seal Jack with an explosive Bent-Over Med Ball Slam. When executed properly, these movements really fire up the nervous system and recruit fast twitch motor units that translate into bigger, safer lifts on the bench.
Complete 2-3 rounds of this superset using 10 reps with the Seal Jack and moving right into 3-5 reps on the Med Ball Slam, with 45 seconds of rest between bouts. Remember, the key to the last stage of the dynamic warm-up is to stimulate, not annihilate!
Do This CNS Activation Drill Before Deadlifting
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Again, on Deadlift days, which incorporate a big hip hinge movement for strength and power work, a powerful CNS stimulant with which to finish the dynamic warm-up is again Jacks paired with Med Ball Slams. This time, we move to Jumping Jacks, which allow the lats (a prime muscle group stabilizing the lower back and hips) to move through more range of motion and contract in and out of a stretched position at the top.
Also, the dynamic Overhead Alternating Med Ball Slam is a great movement to facilitate triple extension at the feet, knees, hips and torso, and to add an overhead and rotational component that will cue better stability through the pillar—consisting of the shoulders, hips and core.
This is exactly the type of response that triggers a neurological phenomenon called “post activation potentiation” or PAP. Without going overboard on the science and neurology of PAP, this method is basically a way to fool your body into thinking that it’s stronger and more explosive than it actually is. By using fast twitch movements with Jacks and Med Ball Throws and Slams, you can create this PAP effect.
For bigger, safer Deadlifts, start incorporating this into the last movement of your dynamic warm-ups, using 10 Jacks and 2-3 Alternating Slams per side with around 30-45 seconds rest between bouts.
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