With the Winter Olympics just beginning we thought it be a great idea talk to you about what it takes to train like an Olympic athlete. If you have ever really watched an elite athlete you immediately notice how effortless, yet powerful they are while they move. So how do they do this? How do they combine seemingly effortless power with near perfect technical precision?
If you ask the above question to many people they will tell you that this happens with tons and tons practice. This is certainly true, but practice does not always make perfect. There are thousands of athletes in every country who work tirelessly to become an Olympic/Professional level athlete. So what is the difference between the athletes who make it and those who don't?
Ironically enough there is one secret that all athletes have at this level that no one ever talks about because they have a hard time defining it. The secret is simple, Olympic level athletes have excellent neuromuscular efficiency. So what does this mean and how can someone train to develop their neuromuscular efficiency?
To answer this question let's first start with the definition of neuromuscular efficiency:
Neuromuscular Efficiency (def): the ability of the neuromuscular system to allow agonists, antagonists, stabilizers, and neutralizers to work synergistically to produce, reduce, and dynamically stabilize the entire kinetic chain in all three planes of motion.
So what does this definition actually mean? Very simply this means the ability to activate the right muscles at the right time during movement. This is an attribute that all athletes at the Olympic level have to some degree. Fortunately for the rest of us this attribute can be trained. Now this does not necessarily mean that you can or will become an Olympic level athlete, but if you train to develop this attribute you definitely improve your performance in your sport.
The starting point for developing neuromuscular efficiency and improving your performance is stability training. Stabilization training is the foundation for all movement efficiency. Before any athlete, recreational or otherwise picks up a ball or racket, they should first develop minimal levels of stability.
Simple, your stabilizing muscles are the platform from which your larger muscles or prime movers activate from. When your body is stabilized it can act with force. If you are not stable, your body's ability to produce, reduce and dynamically stabilize force diminishes. The evidence for this can be seen by watching any high level sporting event, in that you never see high level athletes look sloppy while they move.
Let's get the million $ question, how can you effectively to improve your body's neuromuscular efficiency? The answer lies in working through a core stability training program. While it would take too long to outline an entire program here I will provide you with a link to a video I created on core activation:
This information provided to you on the video can be used as the starting point of any stabilization training program.
So the next time you turn on the TV to watch the Olympics take a second to consider the stability required by each of the athletes during their sport. It will surprise you to consider how much of their body must be stable just to maintain control.
I hope this helps!
Jason Chiero, CPT
Published On: February 16, 2010