By: Anthony Campo
In part I of this article we discussed the importance of the Central Nervous System (CNS) along with some methods that can be used to prime it before big lifts. Equally as important is training the CNS into positive adaption for the long term. Basic maximal effort programs such as the Westside Method do just this. Part of the adaptation that occurs from maximal effort training is with the Central Nervous System. The big powerlifts such as Deadlifts and Squats just happen to be some of the best exercises for CNS adaption. The reason these lifts are the best is that you can train these exercises with the proper intensity and loading needed to create long term CNS adaption.
For individuals who I believe have a primary weakness specifically in the loading of these main lifts, I like to incorporate supra-maximal lifts into their training. These lifts are usually performed in the beginning of the training session because it can also help prime the CNS. Also because we are usually using a variation of the max effort method, it traditionally does not create a whole lot of muscle fatigue, and rep effort or dynamic effort movements can still be performed after at a high level.
A basic rep scheme to use for the max effort method is to work up to anything from a 1 to a 3 rep max. After an approximated max is successfully lifted, perform 1-3 back-off sets of around 90% depending on how you are feeling.
Here are some supra-maximal variations of the main lifts that can be used to train the CNS for long term positive adaption.
Pin Squats, Presses, or Pin Pulls from varying heights
High Box Squats, Board Presses, and Box Pulls from varying heights
Reverse Band Squats, Pressing, and Deadlifts using different band strengths