Tip: Fire Up Your CNS For Better Lifting

Do a couple of these drills before you lift and you'll get the best workout you've had this year.

Use the Force

This is a great way to begin any lifting workout. The idea behind "rate of force development" is to do an exercise that's explosive in nature and that utilizes all of the body's major muscle groups. Doing an explosive exercise prior to lifting fires up your central nervous system and gets your body physically ready to lift hard and heavy.

Some lifters do rate of force development work by incorporating jumps, explosive push-ups, or variations of the Olympic lifts. While these are undoubtedly great ways to produce force, there are people that need less impact on the body.

Heavier-set lifters and those recovering from an injury will have a hard time absorbing the impact from a jump. And beginners may not have the technical skills to perform Olympic lifting variations. If you're one of these people, try out some of the exercises below before your next lifting session so you can still reap the power and strength benefits from force production.

Medicine Ball Force Production Options

Medicine Ball Chest Pass

Similar to a basketball throw, step out with one leg while pushing off the other. Explosively extend your arms as you throw the ball to a partner or against a wall. This exercise goes well with any pressing day.

Medicine Ball Thruster

Make sure you drive your knees out as you squat down. Utilize the stretch reflex (the bounce you feel at the bottom of the squat) to rocket your body back into a standing position. Once you reach this standing position, continue to explode up while forcefully extending the arms. This exercise works great before squatting.

Backward Medicine Ball Throw

Keep a strong, flat back as you bend down towards the medicine ball. Explosively drive your hips forward as you go to rip the ball from the floor. Make sure you're bracing your core the entire time and don't hyperextend the back at the end of the throw. This exercise fits well on deadlift day.

Jumping Force Production Options

Banded Broad Jump

This one is great for practicing a broad jump without as much impact. Placing a resistance band around your waist will greatly reduce ground impact as you land. Make sure you land with a flat back and knees tracking outward to prevent injury.

Banded Lateral Single-Leg Hop

This will feel awkward at first but it's great for producing force laterally as well as activating the glutes and hamstrings. When you set up, remember to get your arms involved. Pretend you're skating or running and hop using your opposite arm and opposite leg. Think of bringing your arms from your chin to your back pocket as you hop from side to side.

Sets and Rep Scheme

Remember that rate of force development is supposed to be explosive in nature. Don't do these exercises as conditioning prior to training.

Do 3-5 sets with no more than 5 reps per set. Give yourself plenty of time to recover between sets. These exercises are neural in nature which means you should be taking longer breaks between sets and should attempt to produce as much force as possible with each rep.

TJ Kuster is a certified athletic trainer (ATC) and certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS), specializing in mobility and injury prevention. He coaches at Method Sports Performance in Bloomington, IL.