Bigger’s Not Better – Your Ultimate Guide To Brain Training For The 1-2-3 Combo Of Power, Speed & Longevity.

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I sensed the curious stare of the old woman sitting next to me on the airplane as I fumbled with my phone, thumb-tapping like a madman. The countdown on the screen neared one minute: 57-58-59-60. Then my score appeared: 122. I pumped my fist, then looked at her, shrugged and smiled. “New record!”

This “CNS Tap Test” – a simple, free phone app – allows me to test and train the speed of my central nervous system, all while sitting in row 10B on the plane, or anywhere else I want to train my nerves to react with lightning speed.

How about you? Do you ever try to move fast? No, I mean F-A-S-T. When was the last time you were at a gym or doing a workout and you tried to hoist a barbell overhead as explosively and quickly as possible? Or when was the last time you were running on a treadmill or riding a bicycle and moved your feet and legs so fast that your brain hurt trying to keep up?

The fact is that when it comes to optimizing the performance of your nervous system and cementing the connection between your brain and the rest of your body, it doesn’t really matter that much the heavy stuff you lift or how much muscle you build. Sure, strength and muscle-building are fantastic tools for aesthetics, for symmetry, for musculoskeletal development and even for anti-aging…

…but when it comes to optimizing your brain and nervous system, recruiting muscle fibers, enhancing nerve firing speed, and optimizing brain-body coordination, it is far more important to instead focus on fast, explosive movements – whether you’re a weekend warrior or a professional athlete. 


Why Bigger Muscles Aren’t Better

I was first exposed to this concept when I interviewed a well-known sports performance coach named Nick Curson. Nick, who is the creator of a training system called “Speed Of Sport”, trains some of the top UFC and NFL competitors on the face of the planet. Rather than giving the men and women he trains extremely heavy weights, he instead has them move light weights and their own body weight as freakin’ fast as they possibly can.

And that’s not all.

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There is also a direct link between your muscle power to muscle mass ratio and your longevity. What’s that mean exactly? Bigger muscles aren’t always better. Instead, when it comes to anti-aging and longevity, it’s your ability to be able to recruit muscle fibers quickly and explosively that seems to matter most. I first discovered the fascinating truth about why bigger muscles aren’t necessarily better when I spoke with author Paul Jaminet on my podcast about his theory that a smaller muscle that can exert more force is a healthier muscle, and that a gargantuan but comparatively “weak” muscle is an unhealthy muscle.

To understand how large muscles – muscles that are simply big and bulky but don’t necessarily produce much explosive force – may be unhealthy, you can examine the health condition of cardiomegaly, also known as an enlarged heart. When heart tissue is incapable of exerting as much force as it should, the heart often grows larger to compensate. People (including exercise enthusiasts) who have cardiomegaly often die an early death because the heart has to work so hard to support its own big, bulky cardiac muscle.

In the same way, “old-school” bodybuilding techniques or other exercise styles that are designed to elicit pure muscle mass can be potentially health-damaging, and Paul cited a study in guinea pigs showing that lower muscle mass and higher muscle force capacity, which is the type of muscle you’d find on a powerlifter or anyone else training more for power and speed than for strength, could actually be associated with longevity. In other words, the healthiest muscle strength gains might come with only small muscle size gains, because larger muscles take far more energy to carry and cool, along with requiring a greater amount of antioxidants for recovery. So if your goal is the ultimate combination of performance, aesthetics, and longevity, what you should be pursuing are efficient muscles rather than unhealthy muscles that are super large.

This concept of more performance driven goals such as maximizing muscle mass and maintaining large quantities of lean muscle coming at odds with a pursuit of longevity is also backed up by data on insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 are hormones that play a complex role in the aging process. Growth hormone, secreted by your pituitary gland, stimulates the production of IGF-1. The growth-promoting effects associated with growth hormone are actually caused by IGF-1, which stimulates the growth, proliferation, and survival of cells.

IGF-1 released in response to growth hormone is anabolic and promotes growth and repair of skeletal muscle. IGF-1 also acts as a neurotrophic factor in the brain, contributing to neurogenesis (growth of new brain cells) and survival of existing neurons, along with better cognitive function. Activities such as exercise or a 30-60 minute sauna session can induce growth hormone release and thus IGF-1 release.

The trade-off? Decreased growth hormone and IGF-1 increase longevity. For example, mice, worms, and flies that are genetically engineered to be deficient in growth hormone or IGF-1 live nearly 50% longer. The inverse relationship has also shown to be also true: overexpression of growth hormone in mice, worms, and flies causes up to a 50% shorter lifespan, mainly due to kidney and liver dysfunction.

If you’re not quite convinced that the aging component of excess IGF-1 and growth hormone is something that might not be applicable to humans, then consider the fact that variations in the gene that encodes for IGF-1 receptor (which lowers IGF-1 levels) has been associated with a significantly longer lifespan in humans, probably because lowering IGF-1 levels increases the expression of genes that are involved in stress resistance, especially oxidative damage. So it comes full circle: in the same way that having too much muscle increases antioxidant needs, the same can be said for too much IGF-1 and growth hormone.

Although much research seems to focus very much on quantity of muscle and not quality of muscle, there are indeed several studies that suggest it’s not enormous amounts of muscle mass per se that increase longevity, but instead muscle quality and muscle function, including insulin resistance of a muscle, fat-burning capacity of a muscle, mitochondrial density of a muscle, mobility of the muscle and the muscle fiber type and strength of the muscle.

Perhaps this is why many professional bodybuilders die young or suffer from chronic inflammatory-related diseases. When it comes to muscles, bigger is not the same as better. The healthiest muscles are actually those found in a small, wiry powerful physique with modest size but high force producing potential and the ability to produce significant amounts of power and speed. You’re about to learn how to recruit more muscle fibers, enhance nerve firing speed by regularly performing fast, explosive movements and optimize power and speed so that you can move like a cat, sprint like a cheetah, spring like a tiger and achieve a sweet spot between enough muscle for a better brain and body, and not so much muscle that you decrease your lifespan.


Your Nervous System 101

power speed and longevity

The first step in incorporating speed and power into your training so that you can build functional, explosive, wiry, longevity-enhancing muscle is to understand your nervous system. The nervous system functions as the mechanism that allows your brain and body to work as one cohesive unit. It receives input through the sensory nerves and coordinates action through motor nerves. The central nervous system, consisting of the brain and spinal cord, is connected to the muscles through the peripheral nervous system, which is divided into somatic (voluntary) and autonomic (involuntary or unconscious) components. The autonomic system is further broken down into sympathetic “fight or flight” responses and parasympathetic “rest and digest” responses systems.

For the sake of simplicity, you can think of the nervous system as the “battery” that drives your muscles. Developing a more robust nervous system via training is defined as “neural adaptation”, and there are two components to train for better neural adaptation: power and speed.

Power is the ability to generate lots of force in a short period of time. While strength refers to how much force your muscles can exert, power refers to how quickly that force can be exerted. If your muscles can’t generate high amounts of force in short periods, then you’re low on power and unable to use the muscle you do have to its full potential.

For example, if you’re doing a strength-oriented task, it doesn’t matter how long it takes you to complete it, whether it’s lifting a weight, moving a couch, or climbing a flight of stairs. All that matters is that the task gets done; doing it slowly doesn’t take away from the “success” of completing it. But when the goal is power, speed counts. The speed with which you lift that weight, move that couch, or climb that flight of stairs dictates how successful you were at quickly recruiting your muscle – which is why power is often referred to as speed-strength.

When you train for power, your nervous system learns to control your muscles in a more efficient way, creating enhanced muscle utilization without the negative effects of too much muscle bulk. The advantage of being able to more effectively recruit the muscle you already have, without necessarily increasing muscle mass, is that you’ll need to recruit fewer muscle fibers for any given intensity. So power is like putting a faster engine in your car without increasing the size of the car or the weight of the engine itself. This results in lower energy costs, less muscular fatigue, and ultimately better performance (even, surprisingly, for endurance related activities).

In contrast to power, speed is the ability to travel a set distance over as short a period as possible. Let’s review the definition of power: power is the ability to generate large amounts of force over a short period. Get the difference? Speed is independent of force. As long as you do something quickly, then congratulations: you’re speedy. Even if that something was grabbing a feather off a tabletop or winning a game of spoons: You were able to move your hand over a set distance in a very short period.

Speed training teaches your brain to fire faster and control your muscles more efficiently at higher speeds and also develops quicker and more powerful muscle-fiber contractions. Ideally, by learning how to move your body parts quickly, you can move your entire body over a set distance in a very short period. And from a muscle-­efficiency and recruitment standpoint, you now know why this is important, even if you’re an endurance athlete, a health enthusiast in pursuit of longevity or someone trying to build the most functional and high-quality muscle you can make, and not necessarily a football player, powerlifter or 100-meter sprinter.


How To Train Your Brain For Power, Speed & Longevity

You’ve probably heard this story: A small child is trapped under a burning car, and in a feat of superhuman strength, the child’s mother rushes to the car and lifts the entire vehicle, rescuing the child from certain death. You may have also heard that chimps and gorillas can be ten times stronger than humans, capable of bending steel bars, punching through walls, or throwing huge boulders.

Don’t worry: Your training is not going to require you to lift cars or bend steel bars. But both the mother and the ape are relying on a complete rewiring of a special mechanism in the body that prevents a muscle from tearing from excessive force. This mechanism is the inhibition reflex, and here is how it works.

Built into every muscle is a special organ called a Golgi tendon organ (GTO). When your muscle contracts and generates a force, the GTO fires off nerve impulses to your spinal cord, and your spinal cord responds with an inhibition reflex, which tells your muscle fibers to limit force production when muscle tension increases. While this mechanism is certainly a good way to keep you from, say, tearing your biceps when lifting a couch, it can, unfortunately, inhibit your sports performance when you’re trying to push the pedals hard or run up a hill. In the case of the mother saving her child from the burning car or a gorilla escaping from a zoo by bending steel bars, the brain has overpowered the inhibition reflex, resulting in a higher threshold of the GTO.

Now here’s the good news…

…just like the mom and the ape, you can increase the excitatory threshold of your GTO to improve your maximum power. In other words, you can “turn off” just a little bit of your body’s natural protective inhibition. A poorly trained person always has a GTO that kicks in before much force can be produced, but with proper training, you can trick your muscles into contracting at a higher force and speed before the muscle-protecting inhibition kicks in.

Here’s how: By teaching your body how to have a faster “stretch-shortening cycle,” you can make your GTO less likely to send signals to limit force production when the muscle has increased tension. This allows for greater contraction force than you would normally be able to produce during a movement, during a strength or power exercise, or during endurance activities like swimming, cycling, and running.

The stretch-shortening cycle is simply the time it takes your muscle to transition from an “eccentric” phase, in which a muscle is lengthening (such as when your foot lands during running), to a “concentric” phase, in which the muscle is contracting (such as when your foot pushes back off the ground). This entire stretch-shortening cycle is trained through explosive, powerful movements, which are often referred to as plyometrics.

Now that you understand how to trick your muscles into power and speed, it’s time to learn the primary strategies that will let you get the job done. Each of the following strategies will train your GTO to absorb a force and then contract to produce a new force as quickly as possible, thus decreasing the time of your stretch-shortening cycle.


Nervous System Training Strategy 1: Plyometrics

In the simplest terms, plyometric training can be described as any activity that involves the rapid stretching of a muscle (eccentric phase) immediately followed by a rapid shortening of that muscle (concentric phase). Hopping, skipping, bounding, jumping, and throwing are all examples of basic plyometric movements. Each of these movements relies on the concept that when a muscle is rapidly stretched, elastic energy in the muscle’s tendon is built up and briefly stored there, and when the muscle contracts, the stored energy in that tendon is released, thus contributing to the speed of a movement or contraction.

Plyometric exercises promote high movement speed, lots of muscle-fiber recruitment in a short period, and trained release of the powerful elastic energy stored in tendons. This means that when your foot strikes the ground, it spends less time in contact with the ground, leaves the ground more quickly, and moves you along faster. When training with plyometrics (or any of the other power strategies you’re about to discover), the delay between the stretching, eccentric phase, and the shortening, concentric phase needs to be very short—no longer than about a quarter of a second. This is why all plyometric exercises need to be characterized by fast, powerful movements. Do plyometrics explosively or don’t do them at all.

Some of the best plyometric movements include depth jumps, single-leg hops, bounds, clap push-ups, medicine ball throws, medicine ball slams, power skips, jump rope and lateral hops. You only need to do a plyometric workout like once a week to get impressive power training results, and I’ve included links to videos of these exercises along with a sample plyometric workout here.


Nervous System Training Strategy 2: Speed-Strength Sets

For speed-strength, perform multijoint, full-body lifts quickly and explosively, often using lighter weights so that you can indeed move a weight as fast as possible. When you throw Olympic lifting into your speed-strength mix, the added benefits include increased VO2 max and decreased resting heart rate(15,6). Olympic lifts involve very high power outputs, high rates of force production, and large amounts of muscular coordination, including the combination of ankle, knee, and hip extension. Traditional Olympic lifting (which typically involves tight leotards) is a standardized competition in which participants attempt the maximum lift of a barbell using either a snatch or a clean-and-jerk movement. When properly executed, the snatch and the clean-and-jerk are two of my favorite dynamic and explosive exercises for enhancing power in endurance athletes, but they do require a good bit of instruction to learn and can be associated with an increased risk of injury if performed improperly. If you already know how to do Olympic lifts, you should be doing them; if not, look to books from Dan John or Mark Rippetoe or find a qualified local weight-lifting coach to teach you correct form.

But you don’t have to know the snatch and the clean-and-jerk to get the benefits of speed-strength training. Other ballistic, explosive exercises that don’t involve as steep a learning curve include lunge jumps holding dumbbells, medicine ball throws, medicine ball slams, medicine ball chest throws and power cleans. To get the most out of your speed-strength sets, you should generally perform three to five sets of just three to five reps for each exercise, using a weight that is 40 to 60 percent of the maximum weight you can lift as fast as you possibly can with good form. Recover fully between speed-strength sets (two to five minutes); when necessary, you can also use “intra-rep” recovery, meaning twenty to forty seconds of rest between each rep in a set. If you’re used to high-rep, medium-weight bodybuilding or CrossFit-style weight training, this may seem foreign to you, but it’s what it takes to maximize power production.

The following shows a sample speed-strength workout adapted from my book Weight Training for Triathlon: The Ultimate Guide.

Warm-Up: Complete 3-5 minutes of aerobic exercise such as jogging, cycling or elliptical trainer, then complete the following exercises.
Exercise

Sets

Reps

Tempo

Weight

Hip Flexor Kickouts

1

8-10

explosive

body

Four-Step Hip Stretch

1

8-10

fluent

body

Foam Roller Quads

1

10-12

fluent

body

Foam Roller Hip Flexors

1

10-12

fluent

body

Foam Roller Hamstrings

1

10-12

fluent

body

Foam Roller IT Band High

1

10-12

fluent

body

Foam Roller IT Band Low

1

10-12

fluent

body

Foam Roller Lateral Calf

1

10-12

fluent

body

Foam Roller Low Back

1

10-12

fluent

body

Main Set: Complete the following exercises as single sets, 1-3x through, with 60-90s rest after each set.
Cleans

2-3

3-5

explosive

40-60%

Overhead Press

2-3

3-5

explosive

40-60%

Lunge Jumps

2-3

6-8/side

explosive

body

Skates or Side-To-Side Hops

2-3

6-8/side

explosive

body

Med Ball Slams

2-3

6-8

explosive

40-60%

Cool-down: Hold each of the following stretches for 6-20 seconds. If heart rate is high or breathing is difficult, complete 3-5 minutes of light aerobic activity prior to the stretches.
Scorpion or Down Dog

1

1

control

body

Single Leg Quadriceps

1

1

control

body

Calf

1

1

control

body

Standing, Seated or Lying Hamstring

1

1

control

body

Seated or Standing Figure Four

1

1

control

body

Bridge (Optional)

1

1

control

body

 



Nervous System Training Strategy 4: Complex Training

Combining traditional strength and explosive exercises results in greater muscle-fiber recruitment and even faster improvements in power and the rate of force development. “Complex training” is exactly that: a workout comprising a strength exercise followed by a plyometric or speed-strength exercise. Examples of complex training include:

-Squats followed by squat jumps
-Lunges followed by lunge jumps
-Front squats followed by drop jumps
-Bench presses followed by medicine ball chest throws
-Overhead presses followed by overhead medicine ball throws
-Pull-ups followed by medicine ball slams

The science behind these pairs of exercises is that the strength half primes the central nervous system so that more muscle fibers are available for the subsequent explosive exercise. The difference between the type of strength sets in complex training and a traditional strength set is that repetitions are fewer and heavier in a complex set. For example, you go heavy on the first exercise, rest briefly, then progress to the next exercise, then finally rest long. For example:

Front squat, heavy x 3, rest for 10 seconds, progress to drop jump x 6, rest for 2–3 minutes

Overhead press, heavy x 3, rest for 10 seconds, then medicine ball throws x 6, rest for 2–3 minutes


Nervous System Training Strategy 5: Train Fresh

Your nervous system is very prone to fatigue, so it’s a waste of time to perform fast power and speed training after a long workout or when you’re sore from the day before. One of the biggest mistakes that most coaches make with nervous system training is improper timing. Even for team sports like football, basketball, and soccer, speed work is often done at the end of the practice, when the nervous system is already exhausted.

Training the nervous system is not cardiovascular conditioning. If you want to breathe hard, do metabolic work, or train your cardiovascular system, then you can swim, bike, run, row, or do another form of interval training. Nervous system training simply requires brief doses of fast low-volume work. This is why, in a high-cadence overspeed cycling workout (see below), you pedal at low, not high, resistance, and usually early in your workout. If you’re exhausting yourself metabolically, it becomes very difficult to train your nervous system. This is also why nervous system training should include full recovery between sets, with zero muscle burn and zero hard breathing.


Nervous System Training Strategy 6: Move Fast

Overspeed training is, exactly as it sounds, the practice of training your limbs to turn over at a speed beyond what feels comfortable or natural. Just envision the Road Runner from the old Looney Tunes cartoons. Here’s why overspeed training works: it is an effective way to recruit new muscle tissue, specifically by engaging more muscle motor units than by training at lower speeds. This is called a “neural adaptation,” and you can consider it a form of training for your nervous system. Through overspeed training, not only do your neurons literally learn how to fire faster and control your muscles more efficiently at higher speeds, but you also develop more powerful and quick muscle fiber contractions, which, as you’ve already learned, is crucial for performance, function and longevity.

In addition to simply moving light weights as quickly as possible at least once a week when you’re performing a workout, here are effective overspeed workouts you can easily do with the equipment you probably already have, or at least with relatively inexpensive training gear.

Downhill overspeed running: Find a dry, nonbumpy area of grass where you can sprint about forty or fifty feet down a slope and then another forty or fifty feet once you reach the flat (to allow for the continuation of the overspeed effect without the assistance of gravity). Research indicates that a downhill grade of about 5 percent is ideal, but you don’t need to go to the golf course with surveying equipment to find the best slope. Just run down a relatively steep hill that isn’t so steep that you fall on your face.

Overspeed cycling efforts: A downhill slope or an indoor trainer works best for these efforts, although you can also do them on the flats. After a good warm-up, choose the gear with the least resistance that allows you to pedal extremely fast without bouncing in the saddle. Spin at the fastest possible cadence (preferably higher than 120 rpm) for a maximum of thirty seconds, and then recover completely before doing the next set, completing five to ten sets total.

Assisted swimming: For this workout, you need swim stretch cords. In a pinch, I’ve used a good set of fins to allow me to swim faster, but you’ll get better results with less muscular and cardiovascular fatigue by using stretch cords. With the stretch cords attached to your waist, swim as far away from the wall as possible, then turn and let the cords pull you back as you swim, which will be much faster than if you were unassisted. If you do this correctly, you’re going to find that your stroke turnover rate is incredibly difficult to maintain. You can add this kind of training to the beginning or end of a swim workout.


Nervous System Training Strategy 7: Eat & Supplement For Power & Speed

You can also build your nervous system by consuming the right foods and supplements. Your nerves are wrapped in myelin sheaths, and a diet for your nervous system should be composed of the specific nutrients that support the formation of these sheaths, as well as the health of the nervous system as a whole. This includes the kinds of foods and supplements I discuss in this ultimate guide to preventing Alzheimer’s, especially omega-3 fatty acid intake, amino acid intake, and B-complex vitamin intake.

The reason I recommend omega-3 fatty acids (especially docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA) is that they are particularly important in building these sheaths around nerves. Flax seeds and walnuts are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but the amount of DHA actually absorbed from seeds and nuts is relatively low. Better sources of more readily available omega-3 fatty acids include algae such as chlorella and spirulina, salmon, sardines, cloves, grass-fed beef, halibut, shrimp, cod, tuna, kale, collard greens, and winter squash.

In addition, activity in your nerves is carried out with the special messaging molecules you’re already familiar with: neurotransmitters – and in most cases, these neurotransmitters are amino acids or derivatives of amino acids. For this reason, optimal protein intake at 0.5-0.8 grams per lb of body weight, along with a balanced intake of amino acids from food or supplements, can also be very helpful in supporting your nervous system. Some of the best high-amino-acid protein sources for your nervous system include grass-fed beef, wild salmon, eggs from pastured chickens, raw organic dairy, almonds and almond butter, quinoa, and spirulina and chlorella.

Finally, in order for the nervous system to synthesize and circulate these neurotransmitters, you need to have adequate B vitamins: B6, B12, and folate are especially important in nerve metabolism. Excellent food sources of vitamin B6 include bell peppers, turnip greens, and spinach; excellent sources of B12 include calf’s liver and snapper; and excellent sources of folate include spinach, parsley, broccoli, beets, turnip and mustard greens, asparagus, romaine lettuce, calf’s liver, and lentils.

In addition, the following supplement strategies can be particularly efficacious for power and speed training:

Choline: 250–500 milligrams, thirty to sixty minutes before a workout. As soon as you take it, choline makes its way to the brain and increases focus, muscle contractibility, and even memory (allowing you to form new neural circuits for learning complex activities such as multijoint lifts). Interestingly, when you take choline in lower doses throughout the day (which would be fine to do simply by including choline-rich foods, such as walnuts, fish, and eggs), it is used for methyl donation. This is enormously important for sustaining your metabolism throughout the day. Because of the one-two combo of this and the brain benefits, choline is one of the most highly recommended supplements to slow or reverse the neurological decline associated with aging. I prefer to get my daily dose of choline from the Chinese adaptogenic-herb complex TianChi or the nootropic blend Qualia. Interestingly, many new smart drugs and nootropics also contain forms of choline, such as Alpha-GPC and phosphatidylcholine.

Green tea extract: 400–500 milligrams epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) equivalent per day. About 30 percent of green tea leaves by weight are flavonols, which are comprised mostly of compounds called catechins. Catechins are broken down into EGCG, epigal-locatechin (EGC), epicatechin gallate (ECG), and epicatechin (EC). Although all these catechins share similar brain-boosting properties, EGCG appears to be the most potent in terms of elevated brain and neuronal activity. Because of the massive quantities of green tea you’d have to drink before a workout to get the equivalent of 400–500 milligrams of EGCG (one cup of green tea contains only about 50 milligrams). Research has shown that the efficacy of green tea is diminished when you consume it with food, so this one is best on an empty stomach.

Vitamin B complex: Niacin (niacinamide) has been shown to help maintain normal nerve function. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine hydrochloride) is necessary for the production of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, noradrenaline, and adrenaline and plays an essential role in healthy nervous system function and energy production. Folate is essential for proper brain function. Vitamin B12 (cyanocobalamin) is the most potent B vitamin. It supports a healthy nervous system by helping to maintain the myelin sheath that insulates nerve fibers and has been shown to help repair nerve damage. Finally, pantothenic acid (d-calcium pantothenate) plays a key role in helping maintain precise communication between the central nervous system and the brain, which is crucial to functions such as powerful muscle contractions and reaction speed. For Vitamin B, I recommend a good multivitamin such as the Thorne brand.

Finally, for added neurotransmitter support prior to power and speed workouts, I also highly recommend the essential amino acid supplementation strategy I outline here.


Summary

As you’ve learned, muscle mass, bulging biceps and rippling quads are an overhyped and life-shortening trend of the past. Bigger muscles aren’t better, and muscle quality trumps muscle quality. By training, eating and supplementing your nervous system for optimized power and speed, you can build an impressive body that also contains the muscle machinery necessary for amazing quality of life and function, rather than big, bulky muscle that requires excessive energy to carry and cool, and excessive antioxidants to repair.

If you want even more detailed workouts and instructions on how to train for power and speed, I’d recommend reading my book “Beyond Training” at BeyondTrainingBook.com, in which I even more thoroughly address hidden aspects of training that many people neglect, and take a deeper dive into building strength and power with specific workouts, exercises and training gear. For a greater exploration of this topic, I also recommend any of the resources from Eric Cobb at Z-Health, Nick Curson at SpeedOfSport and Jon Bruney at Neuromass.

So that’s it! The next time you go to the gym or in your next workout, resist piling on the weights and instead move every rep at a lighter weight far more quickly and explosively. If you’d like to try this approach with cardio instead, see if you can run at a cadence of at least 90 steps per minute or cycle at a cadence of 120+ RPM with very short bouts of 20 to 60 seconds. See what it feels like to increase the cadence, train speed and to pay attention to that component of the nervous system that a lot of people neglect when they train. Have fun watching the smoke come out your ears as you see what it feels like to truly train your nervous system.

If you have questions, comments or feedback, leave them below…and here are a few extra podcast audio resources for you:

A New Way To Get Unstoppable Conditioning, Maximum Strength, Speed, Power & Muscle… In 3 Hours Per Week (Or Less)

How To Get Faster Fast, The Best Shortcuts To Power, Why Conventional Speed Training Sucks & More With Nick Curson.

How To Make Your Nervous System Unstoppable, Eliminate Pain, and Build Your Brain.

 

Ask Ben a Podcast Question


12 thoughts on “Bigger’s Not Better – Your Ultimate Guide To Brain Training For The 1-2-3 Combo Of Power, Speed & Longevity.

  1. chad kirkham says:

    How does this comply with the standard knowledge that you need to lift 60-90% of your one rep max to get into hypertrophy to develop strength and power? Also would your book be beneficial to fighters for developing power without much mass.

    1. They're two different forms of training for two different goals. Yes, I think it would be.

  2. Matt says:

    Would workouts such as “P90X” or “Insanity” qualify as this kind of training?

  3. Stephanie S says:

    Could one use a vibration platform machine as a way to add in nervous system training to workouts?

    1. Yes, and here are a handful of additional strategies for that: https://getkion.com/articles/body/biohacking-tool…

  4. Christos says:

    So if decreased growth hormone and IGF-1 increase longevity then what is all this fuzz lately about HIIT (high-intensity interval training – as opposed to long aerobic sessions…) that (that is what I had understood so far) increases human growth hormone and thus longevity?

    1. The physiological mechanism behind increased IGF from, say, copious amounts of meat and cheese is different than the growth hormone or IGF spike from exercise. The former is fully anabolic, but the latter is more anabolic along with catabolic benefits.

  5. As always, great stuff (thanks). What are your thoughts on how people with injuries (especially knee injuries) can still train for speed and explosiveness? Can any of the neuro-stim devices out there (like Neufit/Neubie) help with this?

  6. Eric says:

    Hi Ben,

    I am studying at an university and we have to sit during class for 2 hours per class, and during my commute to and from school another 1 hour driving. I also make money driving for Uber, so if I work all-day, I will be sitting 8 hours.

    What would you recommend I do to counter-act all the sitting that is required for me in order to earn money and graduate?

    thanks in advance!

    Eric

    1. Mike says:

      Functional Patterns

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