Thursday, March 19, 2009

Neuromuscular Adaptation and Powercranks

My name is Frey, and I was a blogger on the original powercranks blog at the website. I am transferring some of my older posts to this updated, blogger-version of the powercranks blog. This post was originally published on 11/9/08.

The highlight of the week was a 38 mile ride on the powercranks. I killed this on Sunday, and I felt surprisingly strong! The first few rides on the powercranks, I could barely pedal for 2 straight minutes.

I attribute this rapid increase in powercranking ability to gains in neuromuscular efficiency. Eric Cressey, author of the Maximum Strength Program, describes neuromuscular efficiency as follows,

Neuromuscular efficiency is a broad term that refers to the contribution of brain-muscle communication to strength performance... If you think of the brain's role in muscle contractions as being like that of a drill sargent commanding a platoon of muscle fibers to contract, then this increase in neural drive is like turning up the volume from a whisper to a shout.

The powercrank movement is a completely new activity for me, so the connection between my brain and my powercranking fibers had been weak - my brain had never needed to activate those posterior chain muscles while cycling before. Now that the powercranks force me to use the quads and hamstrings more, my body is getting used to telling those muscles to fire during the pedal stroke. My body is using those muscles more efficiently, so the powercranking is rapidly becoming easier. Gains in neuromuscular efficiency can happen more quickly than gains in muscular strength, and gains in neuromuscular efficiency can happen independent of gains in muscular strength.

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