The nervous system is akin to a parking brake that's partially engaged on your muscles. Release that brake and you'll get stronger and recruit more muscle fibers – instantly.
As any good engineer will tell you, the foundation must support the building. If you own a 10-story building and feel the need to add five more floors on top of it, the foundation must be able to support the extra burden. With regard to strength training, I'm talking about the added stress that comes from putting more load on your muscles and joints.
Your support system comes from your glutes, abdominal wall, and lats. When these muscle groups fire together, it forms a super-stiff foundation to support whatever lift you're pulling. That's why Dr. Stuart McGill calls the synchronous firing of the glutes, abdominal wall, and lats, "super stiffness." When these muscles are strong and tight, the nervous system will release more neural input to all your muscles. This is why boosting your squat will also enhance your bench press.
Putting your body in super stiffness mode is simple. You only need two exercises to do it. Start with two sets of three reps for the Romanian deadlift. Be sure to lock out your hips and squeeze the glutes as hard as possible at the top of each rep. Then, do two sets of three reps for the ab wheel-rollout exercise.
We don't want these two exercises to sap you of energy, so there's no need to go for a max lift, especially with the Romanian deadlift. The goal is to simply add tension and neural input to the right muscles in order to strengthen your foundation before training.
To ramp up your nervous system, do this before your strength workout:
- Romanian Deadlift
- Sets: 2
- Reps: 3
- Load: Moderately heavy (a weight you could normally lift 7 or 8 times)
- Ab Wheel-Rollout
- Sets: 2
- Reps: 3
- Load: Bodyweight