I was listening to a great podcast on the Huberman Lab where Dr. Huberman interviewed internet superstar and fantastic PT Jeff Cavaliere.
Truth be told, I’m a little envious of both of these guys. I also want to be a big shot online with all this great sports performance info; I want my podcast to be picked up and I would love to have a YouTube subscriber list of 20 million people.
Plus, have you seen this guy’s body. Dude?!
These guys did a great show and stimulated ideas for this website, this being one.
The idea of amping your neuromuscular connection with training.
In our realm, it’s often called motor control, and I’ve done a few articles and thousands more clinical treatments, with this being the main idea.
Don’t like that term either? Too technical?
I get you. It’s pretty difficult for me to explain to clients, even the ones that desperately need this if they hope to get better.
Here’s a great word swap. Think of this as “tone.”
The podcast from Huberman and Cavaliere talked about how they believed that the people that have great “tone” are the people that have the greatest neuromuscular connectivity.
“You know those people that look like they have muscles just sitting underneath the surface of their skin? You can see their muscles when they are just getting milk out of the fridge. They aren’t necessarily “ripped” like they are cutting down for the stage, not paper thin skin, but just muscular. They’re not “flexing” either. They just have “Available” muscle. That’s called tone. That’s what people really are striving for when they talk about weight lifting and exercise. They’re not talking about a pump. They’re talking about looking good when they’re not working out. Having muscles that aren’t flexed but are “available.” That’s sexy. That’s hot.”
That is a solid neuromuscular connection.
I love the idea and description, and I have taught a version of this in one way or another for nearly a decade. Motor control, I understand. This all-day “tone” and how to get more of that. I LOVE.
The idea of mini-workouts focusing on TONE throughout the day -that’s new to me.
This is an experimentation that I think we can do together. I would challenge you and push you to try some of this and see if it makes a difference for you. Like everything I do when I experiment, I look for changes in a few days. This isn’t something I would have you test out for a year; I’m guessing this will be immediately noticeable.
Now that I’m better aware of it, I see this in many different people. My wife is one of them, despite having five knee surgeries, four kids, and a job that requires bouts of prolonged sitting. She always looks jacked. Always. People ask her if she just came from the gym all the time.
I work my ass off in Fitness and eat well, yet nobody has ever asked me that, and despite my routine, my kids assure me that I look the same every day and that I have since they were born.
It’s also a chance to run a little experiment that makes a big idea applicable and easy to understand in real life.
As much as I know you’ll see a benefit in your body, you never want to turn down a chance to use a long-winded multi-syllable word like neuromuscular conditioning. It makes you sound brilliant.
I pride myself on making stuff easy. I’ve said it many times on my web pages and social stuff. “In order to give someone a simple explanation, you first have to have an explanation. That is what makes it simple.
Neuro = brain, and nerves
Musculo = muscles
Together either as “connection, conditioning, interface”…whatever. It’s how they connect and work together.
Flex your bicep.
Now touch it with a few fingers from the other hand and flex it again. You’ll notice you can easily make it flex much harder. Automatically.
That’s neuromuscular conditioning. That’s biofeedback.
Make your brain pay better attention to your body!
It’s the entire reasoning for my dozens of glute activation/low back pain/hip articles.
When you lose the ability to connect your nervous system to your muscle system, things don’t work correctly. And on the flip side of the coin, when you can relearn how to do this, it makes your Rehabilitation and performance enhancement much better. It speeds up recovery, heals up injury faster, and allows for better performance. In fact, I think any of us in the sports performance world could get to the point where we believe that everything we do in the rehabilitation world has its primary roots in neuromuscular connectivity. Everything.
How big is this idea?
I am constantly hyping that the medical and fitness worlds have changed so fast that most doctors are 20 years behind the latest science and research.
This idea of body-to-brain connection isn’t new. But how it affects every single thing we do is THE modern way of looking at the body.
I constantly say, “This doesn’t work the way we’ve thought it was working the last few years. It still works but for a different reason.”
Massage, tape, vibration guns, Electric stim, how we look at PAIN, Chiropractic, stretching, weight lifting, modern sports clothing, shoes…. on and on
EVERYTHING that has to do with the human body has to do with the connection between the muscle and the nervous system, especially the brain. These “biohacks?” that have everyone searching for the next $1000000 system is how brain-to-body connection allows for better, faster, easier results.
I, as well as both of these guys in the interview, are all very adamant on just spending some time getting used to Contracting where you want to contract and feeling, i.e. what I have described as body mapping makes for a better connection.
So what about this makes for a sexier body?
It takes an analogy.
Although they didn’t quite come out and call it this, I will. I think the idea of a
“neuromuscular mini workout”
Is a great experiment to run. Although I won’t claim to have worked on thousands of professional bodybuilders, I certainly have had a share of them in my clinic.
One of the guys I became close with is a very successful personal trainer in town named Adam Young. I talked to him about bodybuilding, and he explained an excellent process.
“Imagine the muscle, say, the bicep, as a tug of war team. Imagine 10 little muscle men pulling on the tug-of-war rope. He explained that when I go to the gym and do a workout, the way the body is set to run is that only six of my little men will pull simultaneously. Four of them are getting a rest. When one of the 6 men gets tired, one of the resting men will pick up his place. There will still only be 6 men pulling; it just rotates which men are working at any given time. The body will always work like this, with only six of the men working at one time. It is a very efficient way to operate, protect the body and stay healthy. The body is all about efficiency.”
“The trick that bodybuilders work very hard on is it getting all 10 little men to pull at the same time. This is the fastest way for muscle hypertrophy and real growth. It’s a huge component often missed by novices, maybe as big as sleep, food, and the exercise itself.”
That’s neuromuscular guys. That’s a great analogy to think about this.
I constantly talk to the other doctors in my clinic. Even on a patient’s very first visit, we have a pretty good idea of if we can help them recover. If a patient doesn’t have body awareness- if their brain can’t even find their butt it is pretty much a complete waste of your time to start the rehabilitation process to strengthen the glutes. I can’t “fix” them.
We can almost always help the client get out of pain. The pain we’re good at. It’s just not what we really got into this profession to do. We wanted to be performance specialists. We are in a particular subset of Chiropractic that deals with human performance, specifically sports. I don’t simply care about a patient feeling better. That’s just the start! Pain control might be for the first day or two after an injury.
I really care about whether I can make them better than they ever have been. Yet, despite knowing this is what it will take, I often lose them on the explanation. The patient just wants a stretch they can do for a week to feel better and they think that’s “the fix!”
My idea is to start mini neuro-muscular workouts and do them all the time. Think about your body and muscles and make it: Contract, stretch, relax, and Tighten.
Gain control. Awareness. Tone. Make your mental body map better.
These can be done anywhere and at anytime.
At work, at school, at home, in bed.
After you do it a few times, it’s going to become entirely automatic and something you do without much mental calculation. I’ve been playing with this idea since I first listened to the podcast last week.
Today, while watching my son play flag football, I took myself through an entire body neuromuscular connectivity workout without anybody knowing any difference. I wasn’t standing on the sidelines flexing anything. I wasn’t “bro’d out.” I was simply seeing if I could get my right calf to flex and then my left. Could I get my toes to spread out? Could I get my right glute to contract? Could I make my neck muscles and jaw relax consciously? It’s the difference between “on” and “offline.” I could easily look around and see if other parents were switched “on” or “off” as well. The majority of the “off” parents, are clients of mine in the chiropractic clinic!
Here’s the best part about this.
I understand the science of all of this as a sports-based doctor. I get this as a rehab and performance specialist. It’s important. But in my clinic, I’ve been using it specifically. For back pain, hip issues, and tennis elbow.
What happens when my whole body tone improves? When my body becomes more available! Coordination, balance, movement, strength, and performance improvements? Now we’re talking about critical parameters of aging. Fitness, health, longevity. And, of course, looking sexier!