The Mind Muscle Connection Part II/Shoulders like Bouldersby Alexander Cortes on March 20, 2015
The Mind Muscle Connection Part II/Shoulders like Boulders
In part I of this series (http://www.elitefts.com/education/training-the-mind-muscle-connection/), I laid out some of the most basic science of neuroanatomy and the mind-muscle connection. I also described why weak and underdeveloped muscle groups are usually the result of a poor neurological innervation.
There were a few key details I realized I left out, and I wanted to clarify these before providing strategies for specific muscle groups.
Where can I learn more about this?
For those are interested in learning more about the science of what I referenced in part I, I would suggest studying and exploring:
- Neuroanatomy (this is relative to the brain and muscles)
- Neuroplasticity (this is an emerging field in the study of the brain and the vast intricacies of how its continuously adapting to the information it receives)
- Neuroscience (there are many text books on this)
Be aware, you wont find anything directly relating to “Bodybuilders and neuroscience”, so don’t expect to find straight answers. You will have to bridge between the technical and the practical.
Your Protocol was long and confusing
Reflecting on the protocol in Part I, I didn’t want to leave anything to confusion, hence the level of detail. This of course had the opposite effect for some people, as it was pretty long.
Here is the abbreviated version then of the High-Voltage protocol (I made it up so I’m giving it a cool name).
Select an exercise that gives the most “feel” for your target muscle,
- Isopulses – Pick a movement where you can contract as hard as possible in the mid to end point of a rep. Actively squeeze muscle as hard as you can against resistance.Perform 3 sets x 30 seconds, 20 seconds, 10 seconds
- Tempo contraction – Using the same motion, you will perform as many reps as possible with a slow tempo in both the positive and negative.Controlled concentric and eccentric, I recommend a 4/2/4 to 2/2/2 tempo, of 2-4 seconds positive, 2 second peak, 2-4 second lowering. This does not have to exact with a stop watch, but it is basically slow and controlled. Some movements are much better suited to slow contractions than others, hence the variation.
- Pump – Same movement, you will perform fast and continuous reps to deepen the burning sensation in the muscle. This set should last about 45-60 secondsAim to get a really wicked pump
- Stretch – After having pumped the muscle, you stretch it in a deep static positionAt this point “feeling” the muscle shouldn’t be an issue.
- IsoSqueeze – Picking a different movement that allows you to hold the top position of a rep, you will do some more squeezes to practice contracting the muscle as intensely as possible.Contract the muscle as hard as you can for 10 seconds straight against resistance, this can be repeated 2-3 times.
- Double pump – Pick a new movement that’s joint friendly. Let’s keep the swole train going with more time under tension.Do 60 seconds of repping it out continuously, do not stop.
- Isometric Contraction – Find a loaded movement where you can hold the middle or top position. You are using a static contraction to exhaust any remaining muscle fiber.Increase the weight as heavy you can handle while holding PERFECT form, hold it for at least 30 seconds to a minute.
Rest Periods – As minimal as can be handled. I realized I completely omitted this the first time, and it led to some confusion. This whole protocol is done back to back to back, and you rest only as long as needed to perform the next step in the sequence.
Modification – Now, this protocol can be changed within each step. I might add in extra sets, or make the pulses longer or even shorter. A large part of the effectivity is found in the sequencing though, so I would recommend changing it.
That said, the “magic” to this is not in simply following steps, but the exercises you choose and the coaching of those exercises. I will say the barbell movements are not well suited to this in many cases (more joint stress), but DBs work excellent, and some machines are phenomenal (as you’ll see with chest).
Because I got requests for literally every muscle group, I am going to take a top down approach and start with the upper body and take it from there.
One major detail, these protocols work MUCH better with a training partner. If you are struggling to feel a certain exercises, having a training partner there to manually cue you will make a substantial difference.
Now let’s start with one of the biggest requests, Shoulders
The High Voltage Shoulder Protocol
Now, shoulders are the interesting one. Some people complain of underdeveloped rear delts, while others said their entire shoulder girdle of and in itself is underdeveloped. This protocol will address both.
Before we pick up the weights, we are going to rub in Artic Balm on our deltoids, and especially the posterior/rear part of the delt. Anyone thinking I’m shilling this for no reason (not that I’m secretly getting paid in spike energy drinks for every bottle ordered), order some and try it. This stuff works killer. If you are adamant though about not using it, at least use some sort of heat rub.
- Rear Delt Prone Row-In this exercise, you’ll set a bench to about 30-45 degrees. This is similar to a row, except you will be flaring the elbows straight out the sides, similar to an upright row in fact. Some people will work better with a higher angle bench, some a lower.Using medium heavy DBs, flare the elbows out and squeeze the DB through the last three fingers of the hand (middle finger to pinky). Pull the DBs as high as you can using your DELTS. This will hit upper back as well, but the delts will generally fatigue much faster than the back will, being a much smaller muscle group.Instruct your training partner to place his fingers on the rear deltoids of both shoulders, so you initiate the movement correctly.From this pulled back position, focus on contracting/pulsing that rear deltoid as hard you can. The first 10 seconds you might not feel much, but as delts fatigue, the burn will start to kick in.On each pulse, DO NOT try to arch the upper back. Your chin should be tucked, and you are visualizing the fibers within your delts knitting together and keeping those weights elevated and tensing. Arching on the reps defeats the purpose of the movement
If you are hands are loosey goosey and grip is an issue, use straps.
Count the pulses in your head 30-SQUEEZE, 29-SQUEEZE, and at NO POINT DO YOU ALLOWS YOURSELF TO FULY RELAX EVEN A LITTLE BIT! Your elbows and shoulders stay under tension the entire time
If your delts start to fatigue, squeeze the DBs even harder and imagine your deltoids and grip being directly connected. Do not allow yourself to completely break tension with load.
After the first 30 second set, relax for about a minute, and go right into the 20 second set. This 2:1 work rest ratio follows for the 10 second set as well
- Prone Rear Deltoid RowNow we do the reps! For the first set, you will to go lighter. I’d recommend a
2/2/2 rep speed. You drop the arms all the way down, pull back with control, hold with 2 second pulse at the top, then lower with control. Use NO MOMENTUM here! (Using an excessively slow tempo on this movement doesn’t work well, go with the above recommendation)After completing this set, breathe deep 10-15 times. Then pick up the weights again, and do a full set of pump reps. DO NOT CUT SHORT THE RANGE OF MOTION. No half rep crap. You lower all the way and pull back all the way. These don’t have to be paused, just keep the weight movingYou should be feeling your shoulder at this point, and may need help from your training partner. If you absolutely can’t complete the reps, just switch out the weights.
- Now you stretch. For this, I would recommend a basic arm across the body stretch, but grab onto a supporting beam of some kind with the stretched arm so you can deepen the stretch. 60-90 seconds each side.
- Seated lateral raise with isotension – This is short and sweet. Sit straight up on the bench. Pick up light DBs, Id recommend no more than 20lbs. With the DBs at the sides, swing them out to shoulder level, with the pinky tilted higher than the thumb. Hold the DBs in this position for a full 10 seconds, and focus on keeping the rear delts and upper back contracted HARD the entire time. The arms stay in line with the torso. This can in fact be done multiple times if desired. 10 seconds on, 10 second off, done 2-3 times.
- Seated DB clean and press – Now we’ll add in emphasis for the other deltoid heads. With this movement, you have some momentum going in your favor. Select an appropriate weight, and swing the DBs to shoulder level and then press overhead. Do not fully lockout, and press the DBs with whatever elbow position you feel comfortable with. Remember this is a full 45-60 seconds, so don’t cut it short at 25 because you are tired
- Following the presses, grab a heavier pair of dumbbells and hold them perpendicular overhead for a full 60 seconds. The elbows CAN NOT drop below shoulder level and should be at 90 degrees the entire time. If you drop them, immediately get your partner to hand you lighter DBs and RESTART the set.You can feel your shoulders now. Now, you may feel thrashed, or you have energy enough to continue training. At this point, I’d individually address with whatever you feel your particular weaknesses are with the shoulders.