December 3, 2016
Podcast from: https://bengreenfieldfitness.com/2016/12/nick-curson-speed-of-sport-podcast/
[0:00] Introduction/ HumanCharger
[1:52] Organifi Green Juice
[3:03] 2017 Detox
[3:51] Introduction to this Episode
[5:25] About Nick Curson
[12:45] How Overdevelopment of the Muscular-skeletal System Can Inhibit Performance According to Nick
[16:56] Nick's Ideal Training Program
[20:26] The Bad Effects of Bodybuilding
[24:13] Why Heavy Strength Training is Something That You Shouldn’t Do Very Often vs. Power and Speed Training
[25:40] What Nick Does When He Works With Athletes
[30:18] When One Has The Speed But Lacks Size
[35:49] Quick Commercial Break/ Stance Socks
[37:25] Health IQ
[38:25] Measuring Rate of Force Development
[43:23] Devices Nick Uses
[46:40] Why Nick Always Starts by Training an Athlete’s Feet and Proprioception
[59:34] Other Biohacks That Nick Uses
[1:02:02] Go-to Exercises for Speed
[1:04:32] Speed Training Frequency
[1:11:10] End of Podcast
Ben: Hey! What's up? It's Ben Greenfield. Today's podcast is pretty cool. The guy who I interview is a specialist at making your nervous system operate extremely quickly. So this is going to be some cool stuff that we haven't delved into before. But speaking of making your body operate more efficiently and more quickly, a sponsor for today's show is actually creating this device, they're not creating it, they have created it, and it is basically two little lights, you put 'em in your ears, and then you push the “On” button on the device, and it blasts your brain with blue light.
So the idea is that the skull of any big mammals, including humans, it allows light to pass through the actual skull and the brain to get exposed to light as the light goes through the little bones in your ears. So you've got these photoreceptor proteins on the surface of your brain, and when the light reaches those areas of the brain, it stimulates the brain and it can do things like help with winter blues, with mood swings, with jetlag, with sleep deprivation, with the carbohydrate cravings that go along with sleep deprivation.
Pretty much any time that you need a burst of happiness, you just put these lights in your ears. They're really cool, and you only need to wear 'em for 12 minutes, and they have all this UV-free, blue enriched white light that flows right in through your ear canals through this little LED set earbud system that just fits snugly in your ears. So you can check this thing out at humancharger.com/Ben. It's called The HumanCharger. humancharger.com/Ben, and you get 20% off the HumanCharger when you use code BFitness. Tiny, tiny little device, fits in your pocket. Really cool. So humancharger.com/Ben and use code BFitness to get 20% off on this thing.
This podcast is also brought to you by the best tasting greens juice powder on the face of the planet. It's gently dried, meaning that they don't blast this thing with giant torches or put it in a heat chamber room. Instead, the green powder is gently dried so you don't destroy a lot of the nutrients. And it has pretty much everything in the kitchen sink in it. Ashwagandha, turmeric, lemon, coconut water, wheatgrass, mint, beets, spirulina, moringa, chlorella, you name it. A ton of non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, vegan ingredients that allow you to get all the benefits of juicing without the shopping, and the blending, and standing in line at Whole Foods, and the clean-up, all that jazz. Not that I don't enjoy going to Whole Foods and making a massive, massive salad every now and again. My $30 Whole Foods salad. However, this green juice is a convenient way to replicate that at home, in the comfort of your own home. So you get this stuff over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/fitlife and use discount code Ben to get 20% off. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com/fitlife and discount code Ben.
The other thing that I wanted to mention before we jump into today’s show is that enrollment is now open for you to join me in my January detox that's coming up in 2017. So the way that you get in on that is you go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/2017detox. That's bengreenfieldfitness.com, actually, you know what? Screw it. There's even a better website. It's just detoxwithben.com. detoxwithben.com. Boom. And that gets you right in. You can check out all the details. It's going to be an amazing detox. As amazing as I guess a detox can be. If that's the highlight of your year, then you must be a complete health nerd. Like me. Alright. So, sit back and enjoy this episode with Nick Curson.
In this episode of The Ben Greenfield Fitness Show:
“When we think of force, force is mass times acceleration, how much weight you can lift in a certain amount of time. By simply flipping acceleration and mass so that force is acceleration times mass, putting a little emphasis on the acceleration, in my opinion, I think you can make things a bit more sports specific. And you can come up with the same numbers. It's really pretty interesting.” “By strengthening the forefoot, and strengthening the elastic components of the muscles in the foot, and the calf, and the soleus, and all these muscles in the hip, and it will improve running time, will make you a much more efficient runner.”
He’s an expert in human performance and nutrition, voted America’s top personal trainer and one of the globe’s most influential people in health and fitness. His show provides you with everything you need to optimize physical and mental performance. He is Ben Greenfield. “Power, speed, mobility, balance – whatever it is for you that’s the natural movement, get out there! When you look at all the studies done… studies that have shown the greatest efficacy…” All the information you need in one place, right here, right now, on the Ben Greenfield Fitness podcast.
Ben: Hey, folks. What's up? It's Ben Greenfield, and a couple of months ago I was down in Los Angeles, a city that I try to avoid like the plague due to the traffic, and the smog, and all the people. But I was there, and I was recording a few different podcasts including The Dr. Drew Show. And Mike, the co-host on there at The Dr. Drew Show, filled me in on some guy that he said I had to have on my show. A strength and conditioning coach who works with a bunch of world class athletes including specifically like combat athletes and extreme athletes. And he'd been on Dr. Drew's show, he had also been on the Joe Rogan Experience, and seemed like a pretty interesting guy. This guy's name is Nick Curson.
So I looked into him and it turns out that his training protocols are pretty breakthrough. He's doing some things that I hadn't heard of before that I wasn't really familiar with when it comes to the stuff that we're about to delve into on today's show, because I finagled him on to the show, which is speed, and the fact that most training programs underemphasize speed, rate of force development. And if you're listening in and you're just like a freaking CEO who wants to live a long time and look good naked, or you're a soccer mom who wants to fit into your bikini or whatever, we are going to delve into some things that directly influence not just performance, but also just the overall way that your body functions and neglected components that you might not be hitting with your current training or your current strength conditioning protocol.
So, that all being, said my guest, Nick, is, like I mentioned, a speed expert. He's the owner of this website called speedofsport.com. He's also the head strength conditioning coach for a boxing gym in the Philippines, and he studies stuff like Eastern Bloc strength conditioning, plyometrics, biomechanics, exercise physiology, rehab, and I know he works with a ton of different scientists, and strength coaches, and Olympic lifters. He's been in the field for over 18 years and has developed some really unique training systems, especially for, like I mentioned speed. So that being said, Nick welcome to the show man.
Nick: Thanks, Ben. Thanks for having me, buddy. I really appreciate it. You summed it up really well, actually. One of the main things of what we're doing too is basically longevity, like you mentioned. So that some of the older athletes, I think that first and foremost, any good training program should focus on longevity and not just you know beating the body up. And that's how I basically learned that what I'm doing is so beneficial. As I beat my body up, I did everything wrong for about 10 or 12 years to the point where, kind of like a Louie Simmons, I had several herniated discs in my back, I had torn both rotator cuffs so I had all these different procedures done. I won't go into all the medical stuff. But just basically beating my body up over years, and lifting weights, wanting to look good, wanting to get bigger and stronger, thinking that was the answer. And then I came to the conclusion that something had to change.
And luckily about eight or nine years ago, maybe 10 years ago now, I met two of my mentors, Marv and Gary Marinovich, who introduced me to their style of training athletes and it was based heavily on Russian science, like hard evidence, new studies of the nervous system, and how it pertains to strength improvement. Not just strength, but also coordination, and refining motor skills, and complex motor tasks, and the ability to improve precision and accuracy. All these things that we kind of think are natural and inherent in people can actually be trained to a higher degree in just about anybody. So to me, it's basically like developing super athletes, or developing a higher level of athleticism, rather than just kind of chalking it up to genetics, and nature, and what not.
Ben: So these two guys, you said, what were their names? Your mentors?
Nick: Marv Marinovich, he was the creator. His son Todd played professional football, he played for USC, Todd Marinovich. He's had history of drug problems, and Marv wasn't, he doesn't have the reputation for being the greatest dad on the planet. But what he lacked in his social life, he was a hell of a trainer.
Ben: And who was the other guy?
Nick: His brother Gary.
Ben: Okay. So these two guys, they came from, you said, a Russian background?
Nick: They came from basically professional football. Marv excelled at various sports. I mean, he was a heck of an athlete. And he was actually the first strength and conditioning coach in the NFL. He worked for the Oakland Raiders, which is where a lot of what I'll be talking about later on is assessing athletes, where he developed a lot of the assessment stuff that we use to develop athletes. So he had an inside track. He was the first strength and conditioning coach really in the NFL and he devoted his life to it. So I got a great mentor in Marv Marinovich while he was still active and training.
Ben: Interesting. Okay. So these guys, they were into nervous system development versus, say, I guess would that be versus like musculoskeletal or cardiovascular system development?
Nick: Yeah. It's hard to put a name on what we do. To be honest, it's as good as we can get without like really going too far, too deep into it. But when we're talking about…
Ben: I don't mind going deep into it, by the way. If we need to.
Nick: Yeah. It's good. I'm glad. So what we're talking about basically is the inner workings of the muscle. Muscle spindles, the golgi tendon, reciprocal inhibition, these type of things that are going on within the muscle that control the limb and control the amount of force you can produce. People are essentially hooked on absolute strength training in the US. I mean, they're constantly maxing out. I mean I see some of these football kids, they're maxing out two to three times a week. But yet studies have shown, clearly is demonstrated that excessive absolute strength training impairs your ability to perform complex motor tasks, mostly in the most precise moment. So you're basically retarding your accuracy and your coordination by overdeveloping these prime movers in this linear pattern. I mean, for example, most sports, in fact just about every sport is played on the forefoot. I think we can all agree on that. And then if you look at the…
Ben: What do you mean?
Nick: So nobody runs on their heel, we don't jump from our heel, any type of sprinting move, in punching, fighting, whatever it is, is played on the forefoot rather than the heel on any sport, which brings me to many of these lifts, like squatting, deadlifting, these traditional compound lifts that they have athletes doing are training a completely wrong sequence of muscles for the sport. Does that make sense?
Ben: Yeah. Yeah, it does make sense. And obviously there's a lot to cover just from like the past minute of what you were talking. But the first question that I have is you talked about how overdevelopment of the musculoskeletal system can actually inhibit performance. What you mean by that? Like how does that actually work? I mean, obviously we all know big body builders aren't out functional.
Nick: They're absolutely not. I mean if the size of the muscle dictated the ability of the athlete, Arnold Schwarzenegger would be like the best athlete on the planet.
Ben: But what about like football players? They're not bodybuilders, but they…
Nick: Football players, I believe, many of them are good in spite of what they're being put through. I believe many of them have the genetic traits that can withstand a lot of these training protocols that they have the athletes put through and still perform at a high level. And even that being said, I've trained quite a few high level professional football players. Not many of them like lifting weights, they don't like the way it makes them feel on the field.
Nick: Oh absolutely. I've seen tremendous benefit with what I do with several high level professional football players. Troy Polamalu was one of the biggest advocates for what we do.
Ben: So what do you do exactly that is different than what other folks are doing?
Nick: I believe we focus on making more of a connection between the mind and in the body, and forcing the body to move more efficiently, to gain greater control over the muscles in the body. Like imagine teaching a linebacker ballet. Teaching him to really be coordinated, or just sticking them in the weight room and have them lift weights all day. The contrast there, it's like night and day. In a sport where the biggest plays are decided by a fraction of a second, any type of inefficiency is going to give the other side an advantage.
Ben: Okay. So basically strength training coaches, like strength conditioning coaches or personal trainers who are working with clients or with athletes who are doing things like, say, whatever three sets of 12 of five different exercises, or multiple sets of, whatever, five, or eight, or ten, is what they're doing wrong because they're not focused on like the rate of force development? Is that essentially what you're getting at?
Nick: Absolutely. The rate of force development, it's inversely proportionate to absolute strength training. Sports rate of force development is inversely proportionate to absolute strength training. So absolute strength training is like a maximum lift, or maximum strength recruitment. It's how much you can lift regardless of time. Sports are all about time, and the quicker the movement, the better. So they're focusing on motor unit recruitment, whereas sports movements are more about rate coding, the sequence and frequency of firing.
Ben: What's the difference between that rate code firing and motor unit recruitment?
Nick: I would say the speed of the contraction.
Nick: Do you know what I mean? Sure, they're recruiting a tremendous amount of motor units with absolute strength training, but they're also training the muscle to contract slowly. So…
Ben: Yeah. That's what I've kind of wondered before. Like I've done, for example, I don't know if you're familiar with like Doug McGuff who has a book called “Body By Science”, and it's all super slow training. You train a couple times a week for 12 to 20 minutes and it's all about time under tension. Spending literally like 120 plus seconds doing a single set where you're moving the weight very slowly forward, like 30 seconds concentric contraction forward, 30 seconds eccentric contraction back, and you'll do just like one set to complete exhaustion for one muscle group, and then move on to the next. And it seems very sustainable in terms of prevention of injury, et cetera, but there really is no rate of force development there. It sounds to me like what you're saying is that that's inferior for athleticism, which seems…
Nick: Yeah. I believe it is. Absolutely. Yeah.
Ben: Which seems kind of straightforward, but what would the opposite look like? And what specifically would the opposite look like in a structured training program is that isn't going to you know injure somebody, or produce excessive impact, or excessive rate of force development?
Nick: Well it's interesting you bring that up because I think a program like that is going to produce more injury than what I'm doing. Because we train, assuming the athlete's healthy and what not, we train in a very ballistic manner in a lot of ways. Multiple joint angles, stuff that athletes are going to run into in the sport. That type of train that you're describing there is like the slow isotonic contractions or the slow type, they destroy a muscular equilibrium. Like we mentioned a minute ago, they're about the overdevelopment of the prime movers at the expense of the smaller stabilizing muscles. And the stabilizing muscles are the muscles that do all of the work in sports.
A perfect example is with a bench press, and you know biomechanics, so maybe you can vouch for me on this. The heavy bench press, what does that do? That pins the, it anchors the scapula to the bench, so essentially which inhibits the serratus anterior. So now you're bench pressing this extremely heavy load in a slow fashion, but you're detraining the one muscle that really helps to protract scapula, and ties obliques and the trunk into the shoulder. Now you're detraining this muscle and yet you're overdeveloping the arms, and the chest, and what not to do this pressing movement. A perfect example is when, if you've ever thrown a baseball or football with a bodybuilder and they look like they're throwing all arms , or you've held mitts for them and they look like they're punching all arms because there's no coordination with the lower body to the upper body. I believe it's inhibited, and the muscle groups are fragmented by this type of fixed linear training.
Ben: What if you were going to do like that kind of fix linear training, but you were to do it with a more complex exercise? Meaning like what if I were to do something that requires a lot of smaller stabilizing muscles, let's say like a squat to an overhead press, or a deadlift, but I were to do it super slow versus extremely fast. Wouldn't it eliminate that kind of neglect of stabilizing muscles that, say, doing something like this on like leg extension machine would cause.
Nick: Right. I think it depends on the load too.
Nick: I think the greater the load, the more you're going to recruit the prime movers, the more that you're going to dumb down the kinesthetic awareness of the muscle you're exercising. Does that makes sense?
Ben: Yeah. It does. And…
Nick: I'm sorry. They've done studies, like throwing a baseball. So throwing a heavier baseball improves speed, or excuse me. Improves power but it retards the accuracy. Throwing a lighter ball improves accuracy. So it's kind of like you go the can heavy slow route, but you're going to dumb down a lot of these other qualities that you need for sports. Or you can do the lighter route and maintain accuracy, and speed, and want not.
Ben: Now when we look at bodybuilders, they actually do show a lot of signs of excessive muscle damage. Like they do a lot of eccentric training and a lot of traditional training programs use for aesthetics or looking good in a swimsuit. They are doing this type of slow training. Now in addition to training the muscles to only move slowly and reducing athleticism, are there other potential health issues or deleterious issues aside from just the fact that you might not be able to, whatever, like serve tennis balls quickly, or a jump as high?
Nick: Yeah. One thing just before we go any further. It's important to know that when I say it'll make you slower, I'm not talking you know seconds and seconds. I'm talking fractions of a second. Half a second, quarter of a second. But…
Ben: Well, that can be a lot.
Nick: Right. In the world of sports, that's everything. No, I mean hemorrhoids. I know that's associated with really heavy lifting. Herniations, if you're not doing it, people always chalk up weightlifting injuries to having bad form. But the fact is I had perfect form when I lifted weights, and I would just go too heavy for my frame and doing stuff I didn't need to do. I weighed 168 pounds, I had a 305 pound bench press, I could squat like 425, I could deadlift 450. I was 168 pounds. So I didn't need to be doing that to get better to sport that I was interested in. It's like the weight lifting took over and I became a worse athlete because of it.
Ben: Okay. Got it.
Nick: So it's all about, for me, now I'm going to be 43 next weekend. It's all about quality of life and feeling good. Like I know I could go lift weights, put some size on, and maybe look younger. But I would much rather be, I still look very athletic. I would much rather be feeling good and looking good than just looking good. You know what I mean?
Ben: Yeah. Now what about doing both? Like could you have a part of your week where you're training with power and rate of force development, and some of the stuff I want to delve into here in a second with you, 'cause I want to get into the specifics of what that looks like, but then also have super slow training, or have a time when you're just focusing on like heavy lifting or hypertrophy?
Nick: Yeah. There are studies that show that you need a certain degree of absolute strength to improve speed strength, and so we can do this with isometric holds basically where you're holding, for the people listening, like if you take a barbell down to maybe six inches off your chest in various joint angles and you hold it there for 6 to 10 seconds with a pretty good amount of weight on that. You could mimic what you can do with the slow, heavy weightlifting with isometric holds. That being said, I am starting to incorporate in my own training a bit of heavy weight lifting once a week, and I find that that's enough to maintain certain numbers that I'm happy with that I don't need to go above to where I'll risk injury or anything like that.
Ben: Yeah. That's interesting. I interviewed a guy named Jon Bruney who wrote a program called Neuromass. I don't know if you're familiar with this one, but that whole program, in the same workout, you're actually doing what he calls a slow grind, which he says kind of primes the muscle to recruit more motor units. So you might start with like a super slow set of squats of 10 seconds down, 10 seconds up. And then you move on to power training, where you do like squat jumps, or box jumps, or something that uses that same muscle. And then, actually in his program, you finish that up with an isometric hold. What about doing something like that where you're combining both in the same program?
Nick: Yeah. It's kind of like contrast training, right? To be honest, I'm not real big on that because I think you're trying to force adaptation. You're trying to accomplish a training goal, which is to make the muscle move a certain way, and you throw too many elements at it. I believe it confuses the muscle. I mean, that to me is not an effective way of doing it, at least not for a long term program. Maybe for one workout with a new client. But to me, that's just kind of muscle confusion. It's like P90X-type stuff.
Ben: Okay. Got it. When it comes to like lifting heavy weights, not working for speed, Nick, for people who might not kinda understand how this works from a physiological standpoint, can you delve into why exactly you can't just, say, like jump higher by doing what I guess, a typical high school basketball strength conditioning coach is going to take an athlete into gym and have them work on their deads for jumping higher. Why is it that doesn't actually work?
Nick: Well, one, I believe you destroy muscle equilibrium, and two, the triple extension of the leg is almost seldom working all of those type of exercises. The triple extension meaning the hip, the knee, and the ankle joint are all working together in producing force, and you're shortening that working range of motion by neglecting this type of movement. I think a better option be like light power cleans than deadlifts or squatting on the heel. Something that gets you onto the forefoot. As you know, you study biomechanics and physiology, it's very important to sequence the proper muscles you're going to be using for that sport.
Nick: Am I right? Like as far as inter muscular coordination goes. That's another thing that's just, basically it's backwards. It's like studying French to learn Spanish, you know what I mean? Just to speak Spanish, it just doesn't work in my opinion.
Ben: Yeah. So with these athletes that you're working with, what exactly is it that you are doing?
Nick: I don't know if you've seen any of my videos on Instagram or YouTube, we do a lot of plyometric exercises. We have a plyometric machine that you can jump on. You can add weight to that. So…
Ben: A plyometric machine?
Nick: Yeah. It's like a squat like a jumping device. So you stand in it, the arm goes up on your shoulders, and you can load the carriage with weight accordingly. And then you perform jumps.
Ben: Oh. Is it like one of those leg press machines that, instead of it being a leg press, you can like jump up and down on? Like a gravity machine almost?
Nick: Yeah. Exactly like that.
Ben: Okay. Yeah.
Nick: And we can do that for upper body too, and that's where we're working the plyometric exercises. That's where the real force production comes in. So when we're talking about force production for sports, we're talking about how much force you can produce in the least amount of time possible. Ben, this is where I think people kind of like are too heavily influenced by the bodybuilding. When we think of force, force is mass times acceleration, how much weight you can lift in a certain amount of time.
By simply flipping acceleration and mass, so force that's acceleration times mass. Putting a little more emphasis on the acceleration, in my opinion I think, you can make things a bit more sports specific. And you can come up with the same numbers. It's really pretty interesting, if not, even higher numbers of force production. So take, for example, like if you're throwing a medicine ball to the ceiling, compare that with a 300 pound bench press. You measure the yardage, you measure the time, and then you can figure out you know the amount of force produced.
Ben: What you're saying is for me to like do a bench press versus throwing a medicine ball with a chest pass as hard as possible, that you would get, if you were to have like EEG electrodes placed on the muscle to measure how much of that muscle was used, you'd actually use something similar with the power training. But you wouldn't develop the same size 'cause you don't have the same amount of muscle damage.
Nick: Exactly. You hit right on the head.
Ben: Okay. Alright. Got it.
Nick: That makes sense? That's pretty clear, right? I've calculated it out myself and the numbers were astounding. It blew the bench press away just because the speed of the bar was too slow.
Ben: So pretty much everything that you do when you lift weights, you do as fast as you can?
Nick: Yeah. Exactly, like the speed of sport. We want to play at the speed of sport or greater. That being said, if the speed isn't up to par and he's just not making gains in the speed or the plyometrics, then sometimes you can add a bit of absolute strength through the isometric holds. If you want to use a barbell, you can. And sometimes that will do enough to kind of stimulate the nervous system, like we said, recruit more motor units to allow greater speed production, or force production, in the quicker movements as well. However, there's some athletes that it retards it. So it's very individual, I believe. It's very specific to the person. And that's where the assessment comes in.
Ben: Okay. Got it. So…
Nick: Did that make sense? I hope I'm not confusing or anything.
Ben: It makes sense. And I think the way that conventional strength training goes is it's got a really heavy emphasis on hypertrophy, or muscle growth, and also gradually progressing with increases in the amount of weight that you actually lift. Now what you're saying is that that's all misunderstood, and you said we should be focusing on like the force-velocity relationship.
Nick: Absolutely. Again, there you go. You hit it right on the head. Force-velocity relationship.
Nick: Like I said, they're inversely proportionate to one another. Absolute strength training and sports movements.
Nick: Like you said, we're heavily influenced by “bigger is better”, and hypertrophy. Let's put it this way. An interesting conversation I had the other day with one of the fighters I was talking, actually a fan of one of the fighters I was talking to, they're like, they say, “God, I can't believe how much weight these guys lift and how hard they work.” And I was like surprised because they don't work that hard. We're trying to make them a better athlete and not trying to kill them. They don't lift much weights. A lot of it comes down to editing, and what people put out in the TV, and they put out on like run-ups to the fights, and what not. So don't believe everything you see on TV. That's all I can say.
Ben: Well, what about like the skinny high school basketball player who needs to put on size? Or even the NFL football player? I mean those guys lift heavy 'cause they got to hit a guy who's just as big as them. Like they need to maintain muscle. What if all you have is like you fast wiry, explosive muscle that you're talking about, but you don't have size.
Nick: Right. That comes up a lot, but I would say it's much more important to have all the muscles of the body working as a unit rather than just to put on size if it's fragmented. Does that makes sense? So by putting the athlete through certain exercises that can coordinate all the muscle groups. So imagine you're pushing into the guy's shoulder of the body, did you play football or anything like that growing up?
Ben: Nah. I was a total preppy kid. I played violin and tennis.
Nick: Ah, that's cool. That's great. Okay. So let's say, you can imagine, I played hockey, I wrestled, I did judo, I had done jiu-jitsu, I had done a lot of these aggressive sports, and I can tell you the guys that were the strongest in the weight room were the softest punchers, the softest hitters that.
Nick: Because the muscle groups are fragmented. My best friend, his name is Yannick, he's probably 150 pounds right now. In high school he could drive a golf ball 250 yards straight. He could throw a baseball, I mean ridiculous velocities. He never lifted a weight in his life. You know what the key was, Ben? It was relaxation and the coordination of the muscles. Your muscle is only going to fire with as much force as it can relax prior to that, let me rephrase that.
So if the muscle doesn't relax quick enough, you'll never be able to contract it fast enough. ‘Cause the two are proportionate. So really where the heavy strength training retards speed strength. It's because it's forcing co-contraction, it's forcing both antagonist and agonist muscles to fire simultaneously to move the load. Does that makes sense?
Ben: It makes sense. And it's kind of interesting. Like I used to, in addition to tennis and violin, of course, I played basketball. I used to be able to dunk. And once I started doing Ironman triathlon, I had a lot of…
Nick: You couldn't dunk.
Ben: Yeah. I couldn't dunk. Obviously. It's not rocket science. I had a bunch of slow twitch muscle. A lot of the fast twitch muscle got converted into slow twitch muscle. But there's also this concept of like, I think back in exercise physiology, we call it couch potato muscle. You have these twitch muscle fibers…
Nick: Dude, that's the best muscle.
Ben: Yeah. The couch potato muscle, it's the type 2, I think it's the type 2b fibers versus the type 2a fibers. So you've got two different types of fast twitch fibers. One's oxidative, your type 2a, and one's glycolytic, your type 2b, and what you're saying is that if you want to be the best athlete possible in your sport, or you want to move like a cat, with a lot of speed and precision, you would want to actually train these fast twitch glycolytic muscles without putting much emphasis on the fast twitch oxidative muscles.
Nick: Exactly. Unfortunately, any time you add resistance to something, that's going to start behaving like the oxidative. We were talking about a couch potatoes, some of the quickest, and most reactive, and explosive people I've ever seen are like grandmothers and old ladies sitting on the couch. And when they're explaining something, their hand gestures are so quick and snappy. I just sit there in awe. I'm like, “Jeez, you sit around all day and you've got that speed.” I mean, granted you would never last in an athletic event because you don't have the stamina. So there's kind of a trade-off. You can't have it all, unfortunately. But as soon as you start adding any type of resistance training or becoming more active, those type Bs start acting like type As.
Ben: Yeah. This is really interesting. Have you heard of the Bjornsen study?
Nick: You know, I might have, actually.
Ben: Okay. I'll put a link to this in the show notes. So if you're listening in, the show notes, I'll put over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/speedofsport. If you're listening in, you can go to bengreenfieldfitness.com/speedofsport to access the show notes, and I'll link to this article. But it was written by, interestingly enough, an astrophysicist named Paul Jaminet where he reported on this study, in which they investigated the actual like health and longevity of, I think it was guinea pigs. And the end result of that study was that they found that longevity was most assisted by, or was, I guess, best displayed in these animals that had very quick explosive wiry muscles, versus like the bigger muscles, like they had cardiomegaly, enlarged left ventricular hearts, they had more health issues, they had lower antioxidant production. But the fast twitch, the ones that were trained for more power, explosiveness, they didn't have these issues.
Ben: I believe the way that Paul puts it in that particular article is like if you wanted the ultimate health, like perfect health when it comes to strength, that you should go after fast, explosive wiry muscle versus muscle thickness or muscle hypertrophy.
Nick: It's interesting too. I haven't read that, but I would be interested to read that for sure. I wonder how they're training the fast twitch on the hamstrings.
Ben: Yeah. I know. Exactly. Do they have little shuttle systems, plyometric machines.
Ben: Hey. I'm going to interrupt this show to tell you about socks. Not just any old socks, but these socks made by a company called Stance. So they've taken one of the world's probably most boring pieces of clothing, socks, and they've made them into these canvases for art and for self-expression. And they're actually really, really cool looking socks. They're almost like conversation starters. Just put your feet up on a coffee table at your next cocktail party and see what happens. See the conversation that ensues because they have athletes, and performers, and cultural influencers that are helping them design these socks.
So you've got socks that basically have the NBA collection. So this means that you've got socks that Dwayne Wade and James Harden, all these guys in the NBA are wearing when they play, and it's just basically this incredibly comfortable NBA casual line. They've got a collegiate one that has like all the different team college logos and school colors for your college. They've got the MLB. They're actually named the official on-field sock of the MLB, the major league baseball.
So I actually even got underwear from stance. I got Darth Vader underwear. And I got my kids a bunch of cool socks with pictures like aliens, and ghosts, and eyeballs, all sorts of cool stuff. So if you're into socks or undies, check 'em out. You go to stance.com. That's it. No discount code or anything that you need to use. Just go to stance.com and you'll automatically get access to their entire suite of amazing socks. STANCE.com.
This podcast is also brought to you by Health IQ. And Health IQ is kind of cool. What they do is that they take people who have an active and health conscious lifestyle, and then they fight to get you lower life insurance rates based on the fact that you're healthy because research has shown that people who actively exercise have, no surprise here, a lower risk of early death, and lower heart risk, and lower cancer risk, et cetera. They don't have a lower heart risk, they have a lower heart attack risk. I'm pretty sure that they have the same heart as everybody else, just a lower risk of it failing. Anyways though, I digress. Health IQ gets you lower rates on life insurance if you're health conscious. So why not? If you're already exercising, get a good deal on life insurance. You get a free life insurance quote when you go to healthiq.com/Ben. That's healthiq.com/Ben. So check them out and back to today's show.
Music Plays again…
Ben: So let's say that I'm slow. And by the way, for those of you listening in who are like obstacle racers and triathletes, we'll get into endurance here in a little bit. But first of all, if I come to you and I'm slow, like I'm a fighter and I'm slow, I'm a football player and I'm slow, do you, first of all, do anything to measure rate of force development?
Nick: Absolutely. Yeah.
Ben: What do you use?
Nick: This goes right back to what I was saying about Marv being the first strength coach. For a strength coach, he had the great benefit of traveling, he also worked as a scout. He traveled all over the nation, to just all these colleges, and he did assessments. I mean he was really big into the weights, so this was kind of a revolution for him. He did an assessment of all the athletes, and what he did is he took certain flexibility tests, muscular equilibrium tests [0:39:24] ______ measurements to determine like correlating factors between the best athletes.
So imagine, Ben, if you've got 25 athletes and three of them are top of the food chain, All-American, all solar, you know what I mean? Super varsity athletes, and they all have these similar matching strengths and numbers in, let's say, front and rear shoulder flexibility, hamstring strength, internal, external rotation to the hip. And all these three guys have the same numbers on all of those. Then you go to another team. And guess what? The top three guys have all the same numbers. Another team, it's all the same. So he came up with this system for testing athletes through manual muscle tests, agility tests, and flexibility tests. And the numbers, they don't lie. ‘Cause I put it to use with some of my highest performing athletes…
Ben: What's this called? What's this testing system called?
Nick: We just call it the equilibrium test, muscle equilibrium test.
Ben: Okay. And you developed that? Or this other guy developed it?
Nick: Marv developed it. Yeah.
Ben: Okay. Is that something, like if people are listening in, they could go find like what a muscle equilibrium test looks like, or do you have that on your website?
Nick: Unfortunately, we keep this pretty low key.
Nick: We use it with clients only. It's not something we put out there for everybody because it's such a benefit in training athletes. The world is full of these gurus and these people who claim to tell you how to train athletes and the way they're doing isn’t the right way. But how do you know unless they've actually produced the highest level athletes? Or worked with the highest level athletes? You don't know. They're operating in the dark. We have a blueprint for elite athleticism. And that's what sets us apart from everybody else, I believe, is this blueprint and this end result. We know at the end result of the highest level athletes are, and it's just a matter of how do we get them there.
Ben: Why don't you use any of these like new wearables that are out there now that measure rate of force development? ‘Cause I know there are some of them out there that will measure like explosive force or how fast you can develop force. I mean even like a freaking, I'm wearing a device right now that I'm testing on my wrist that has a built-in accelerometer. And I know a lot of these devices have that. Do you use any of those?
Nick: Yeah. I do have one for one of my machines that we test like the squat jump, the chest throw-offs, all these various force tests that we can do on there, and we've got a monitor on that. But as far as being able to have one like, I know they made one for like punching now. I forgot what it's called. You can put it inside your gloves or something, and there's an app on the phone and it can determine your rate of force production. I would love to use that stuff. I think that's obviously the next phase. But a lot of the things we do too are standardized tests, like 100 yard dash, a 40 yard dash, things that are pretty easily measurable.
Ben: Yeah. I wish I could remember the name of this device 'cause somebody sent me one. They actually sent me, I got to remember the name.
Nick: You got some cool devices dude.
Ben: Yeah. I know. They sent me a phone 'cause it only worked on the Android platform, and then the ability to test my rate of force development using this particular device. And I'll remember the name of it here in a second, but while I'm looking that up, what about doing things to test the strength of the central nervous system, or I guess the robustness of the central nervous system? Like one thing that I've looked at before, and I actually have this on my phone, is the CNS Tap Test where you're simply looking at left hand and right hand, and how quickly you can tap multiple times in a row. Have you ever used or experimented with anything like that?
Nick: We use that. Yeah. But we don't really necessarily measure it because the speeds get so great I don't even know how you would measure it without a monitor. But, yeah. We do exercises like that. We've got plenty of exercises like that.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Do you use other apps, or other wearables, or pieces of technology?
Nick: I do. I really love heart rate variability. I have all my athletes using that. That has been such a gift and such a game-changer in terms of monitoring the training load and making sure they're not overdoing it. And also, the thing I love about it is if they do start to overdo it, then you know what you can tap into to bring it back to neutral. So for people who are listening, the heart rate variability basically measures, I'm sure you can delve into it more, but like the space in between heartbeats, the algorithms, and what not. But it can tell you if you're operating too much in the parasympathetic or sympathetic state, and it can give you like a numerical value of what your training load is, or your sense of overtraining is.
Ben: Yeah. I use that, and most of the folks who I work with use it as well. It's a simple five minute morning check-in. So the name of this other device though, I found it, it's called the mPower. And what it is is it's actual EMG eletrodes that, it comes in like this little band that you wrap around your muscle. I actually have some in the drawer upstairs in my kitchen, I haven't had the chance to test it too much, but it measures fast twitch muscle cell activation, it measures rate of force development, it measures rate of fatigue. So basically, I think the idea behind it is you train with it and you can actually get alerted once your rate of force development begins to decrease for any given set that you're doing. And then you would know that at that point you've reached your threshold, you've peaked, and so you would stop doing that set.
Nick: That to me is crucial. Exactly. Once you peak, you want to stop the exercise. ‘Cause we're always trying to build on good form, good speed. And again, like I said, as rate coding works, we're trying to increase the frequency and the sequence of the firing of motor units. So the higher we can get that frequency, the better. And then we shut it off 'cause we don't want to leave anything on a downward note in the nervous system. That would be…
Ben: I'll link to their website in the show notes. I need to actually get back in touch with them 'cause they sent me their device and everything, and I just never got around to doing like a full meal deal test of it. But I'll link to their website in the show notes for those of you who want to check 'em out. It's mpower-bestrong.com.
Anyways though, so we kind of delved into this rabbit hole when I asked you if you used anything to test, and you said you used, primarily, this equilibrium test. Once I've come into you and I've found out that I'm slow, or maybe I already know that I'm slow, what would you do then? Like what would a sample program actually look like? Like what am I doing on a daily basis when I'm training using your Speed of Sports systems?
Nick: Perfect. So day one, you come in, I'm going to put you through the muscular equilibrium test. I'm going to determine the weak links in the kinetic chain. Most people, it's the feet, and the hips, the lower back, the muscles of the lower abdominal cavity. Many people have shoulder restrictions that will impede, and this all plays into biomechanics right. So if you've got not enough shoulder flexibility, you're not going to produce much force to. Too much flexibility, you're not going to produce much force. So we try to get you, we're going to work you into the optimal range for producing the greatest amount of force that your body can handle.
The feet plays such a crucial role in what we do because if the roots are strong, so grows the tree. So a lot of this barefoot training, I'm not trying to take credit for it, but a lot of it came about six, seven years ago maybe. About the time Troy Polamalu was really blowing up in football and he did this tremendous testimonial for Marv as a trainer, talking about how much work we do with the feet and the proprioceptive qualities of the feet and that was right about the time the whole foot training thing started. Now I don't know if it played into that, or if it was just kind of like a byproduct, or if it was just kind of like they're going on parallels. I don't know. But there was a heavy influence there, I believe, with Nike and the Nike Free. Maybe. Troy Polamalu sponsored by Nike, I think maybe it had something to do with that. I don't know.
But the feet are one of the most neglected aspects of any athletes training arsenal. I mean the feet, there's 26 bones in each foot, right? You combine the muscles, tendons, and ligaments, there's 136 in each foot, I believe. Yet nobody trains the feet. I mean they carry the entire load of the body and then plus any force that the leg, the hip, and the rest of the body can produce, and it's one of the most undertrained aspects of physical preparation, in my opinion. It's the toes and the feet. Not just strength reasons, but what they can do for, like we said, all sports are decided within fractions of a second. But what the training, the hyper training of the feet can do for the speed of reaction in sports is pretty amazing. And this is like Ph.D stuff when you start getting into propriospinal processes, and you're talking about sensorimotor nerve stimulation, and the proprioceptors of the forefoot. It's pretty deep stuff when people are still thinking about strengthening the footwork, thinking about how can we intensify the reactive signal from the sensorimotor nerves to the spinal column and back to the action. Does that make sense?
Ben: Besides using the obvious, like minimalist footwear, besides using barefoot proprioception training, is there anything else that you're doing?
Nick: Yeah. We're doing more barefoot proprioceptor-type training. Slant boards, balance board, we use discs, we use foam, a lot of stuff you'll find in a physical therapy office. But also we have a machine, it's called an isokinetic machine. And basically what this does is, whatever force you produce, it will match your force. And it moves in a steady, it's basically like accommodating the resistance.
Nick: So the more you push, it's going to accommodate whatever force you produce. Well, the great thing about this machine is we do it in an inverted state. So you're laying on your back with your feet above you. So that takes the entire load off of your legs and you're basically only producing as much force as you can. But the beauty of it is you really gain so much more kinesthetic awareness of all the smaller muscles because they're not under tension. Now they're upside down and you really have to learn to retrain your toes and your feet to work again. And it's really amazing. People would get off this machine and they're just freaking out. They're like, “Wow. It's burning like crazy. I said it's like physical therapy. You see guys in the movies, they try to walk again, they get up, they're sweating profusely. It looks like they didn't even exert themselves, but to them, what they're feeling is just a whole new level of neural excitation and…
Ben: Is that something that you can get for home use? These isokinetic machines?
Nick: Unfortunately, no. I have a friend who's producing them right now, a cost effective. The ones we have in my gym are thousands of Dollars. A more cost-effective one that you can bring home, that'll be out in a couple of months. But there are other exercises you can do that mimic the same thing. In fact, I put a couple of them on my Instagram. You can see there's like the towel grab, and then we've got some balance pipes that we really like to use to strengthen the toes and the feet while also training that reactive neural component.
Ben: Got it. So in addition to the feet, tell me about one other thing that you do that would be unconventional when it comes to taking athlete who is slow, who needs to work on their rate of force development and actually getting them to do that.
Nick: Yeah. I'd definitely say the plyometric throw-offs that we do, one of the machines we have, and basically, we're working the stretch shortening cycle there. If you don't know, there's three types of muscular contraction. There's the concentric, the eccentric, and the isometric. We're really training a heavy eccentric overload. Correct me if I'm wrong on the numbers, Ben, but the difference between concentric and eccentric strength in the human body is approximately 40%. Am I right?
Ben: Between concentric and eccentric strength?
Nick: Yeah. Your eccentric strength has a capability of withstanding like 40% greater force than the concentric force.
Ben: I believe it's greater than that. For the eccentric-concentric strength ration, I want to say it's more than like a 1:10 ratio in terms of the amount of force that eccentric contraction can absorb.
Nick: Right. And for me I think it's up to 80% greater in the lower body and can be as little as 20% in the upper body. But for some reason, I think people have become fixed on just a 40% number. I don't know. But that's just kind of what I say, 40%. But the 40% greater eccentric overload helps also to stimulate the stretch reflex, which then triggers the reciprocal inhibition. So that's the inhibition of the agonist muscle, or excuse me, inhibition of the antagonist muscle, which allows the agonist muscle to work at a much greater capacity.
Nick: Simultaneously, you're gaining better control of your body, you're train more efficiently, and there's less muscle confusion. There's more intermuscular coordination. This also helps to improve athleticism and coordination.
Ben: Right. Okay. So basically, you're reducing the amount of time spent in between repetitions, or increasing the amount of ground contact time spent in between steps, for example. So if I'm going to do, obviously the stupid example, or the obvious example rather, would be like if you're going to run decreased ground contact time by cadence. But what you're saying is even if you're doing something like a series of med ball throws, or squat jumps, or something like that, you're also focusing pretty intensively on the inter-rep rest being as short as possible.
Nick: As possible. Exactly. And one of my videos that I have on my website, I delve into that with, it's a training video and we're doing the medicine ball throws with a partner. And so we'll have one person eccentrically overload the medicine ball and drop to the chest, or to like a bicep, or something like that, you can see the pictures there. But eccentrically to overload it to gain more explosivity out of the concentric action. And then it begins to work in unison. Again, it's rate coding. We're trying to increase that frequency, and increase that speed, and that force production.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Yeah.
Nick: True power comes from the elastic components of the muscle.
Ben: Yeah. Okay. Proprioception, feet strength, reducing ground contact time, training that stretch shortening cycle, those are the type of things that you would do if I came into you and I were slow. Now what about if I'm an endurance athlete? Like is there any crossover here? ‘Cause there's a lot of people listen to the show who are freaking cyclists or triathletes. They're not NFL linemen.
Nick: It still goes back to the assessment. Imagine, it's like a chain. You're only as strong as your weakest link. And a majority of people, especially if you're not wearing these big puffy running shoes and then you're sitting in a desk all day, I guarantee you 99% of people out there have weakness in their feet and their hips. There's probably an imbalance between hip flexor and glute strength. By simply starting to correct these things, especially the feet, the feet are like the ultimate suspension system. I mean can you imagine running on your heels like the one endurance guys trying to run on their heels.
By strengthening the forefoot and strengthening the elastic components of the muscles in the foot, and the calf, and the soleus, and all these muscles in the hip, it will improve running time, will make you a much more efficient runner. Balance in the shoulders is going to help with your arm swing in running. It's going to make you more efficient. Like I said, you're only as strong as the weakest link in your kinetic chain, and by fixing all these little weaknesses, the body work and become synergistic basically. Most people get a result after about a week of this type of training, and they feel these muscles waking up. If I can, I'll send you some videos too, Ben. ‘Cause I'd love you to try it and just see how you like it.
Ben: Any videos you send, I'll put in the show notes. Perfect example of an endurance athlete would be my friend Hunter McIntyre, who's one of the top obstacle racers on the planet. Like one of the key things he did this year was he started doing a ton of overspeed training on a treadmill. He was in the lab of this guy named Richard Diaz who's a running coach. We have another podcast that we do called the Obstacle Dominator Show, and he interviewed Richard about their protocols, and I mean he would literally do, in addition to like running, and dragging Richard behind him on a bicycle, and things like that, was he would do this overspeed treadmill where he was, if you haven't seen this before, you're essentially almost suspended on a sling with your feet moving as fast as they can possibly move. Far faster than you'd move unsupported.
Nick: Forces you to run faster.
Ben: Yeah, exactly. It's all turnover. Another guy who swears by this type of training, Jay Schroeder. Do you know him at all?
Nick: That sounds familiar.
Ben: Yeah. He's a guy interviewed on the podcast. He's all sorts of weird things. Like he's got a Russian electronic stimulation machine called ARPwave that he uses to get the muscles to contract at a much higher rate and at a much higher muscle fiber recruitment than they'd normally be able to. But he's also huge into overspeed training, like using bicycles at like 150 RPM, and doing things like lunge jumps with decreased ground contact time, and he's got some very interesting training protocols too.
Nick: Yeah. That's right up our alley. Those are similar things. In fact, Marv may be the guy who invented the overspeed training. So we'd have three runners, if you can picture this. We have a lead runner, so there's the lead guy, and then there's the tail runner about 50 yards behind him. Then off to the side of the lead runner, there's another runner who will hold the end of the rope. So this rope will attach from the, we'll just call him the anchor, will attach from the anchor, to the lead runner, to the tail runner. So when the lead runner takes off, he's pulling the tail runner. And then the anchor will run in the opposite direction, which is then coupling the running speed. The tail runner has to run at the same speed as well as the lead runner and the anchor, if that makes any sense. So it works in kind of like a triangle, and it literally multiplies exponentially the speed of the tail runner, forcing him to run at a much higher rate. Like I said earlier, the body is extremely literal in terms of learning. Like you force it to move faster, it's going to learn how to move faster.
Ben: Yeah. It makes sense, yeah.
Nick: How does it know how to do it unless it's been there.
Ben: Yeah. So a few other things that I wanted to run by you, Nick, just while I still have you on the show. We talked about like you know little wearables that can measure rate of force development and things along those lines, you mention HRV, but I'm wondering about other biohacks. Like for example, one thing that I've been experimenting with is this thing called a Halo. It's transcranial direct current stimulation, or TDCS. Apparently the Golden State Warriors used it for their training, but…
Nick: I was looking at that, yeah.
Ben: Yeah. It stimulates the motor cortex for like decreasing rating of perceived exertion, or enhancing speed when you're training. We talked about like the CNS Tap Test and some other things, but do you use any other wearables or biohacks like that? Have you experimented with like TDCS headsets or anything along those lines?
Nick: No. I really haven't. I think if I was more in the laboratory setting, I'd be more apt to use 'em. And a lot of the athletes, were working at such a high rate. I don't know how many of these guys would be willing to test…
Ben: Yeah. Apparently, it actually increases the excitability of motor neurons. And so it…
Nick: That interests me. That kind of stuff interests me.
Nick: I mean that's basically what it is. And the nervous system has a tendency to stagnate when it's not being challenged at a higher rate, and that's basically what all this is to get the nervous system to a higher rate of firing where you doing it quicker than the other guy. So it's not anything that plays into that. I would love to check it out.
Ben: Yeah. I know that the primary studies that they've done on it have been for rate of force development. You can use it for fine motor skill acquisition, like you can wear it before you're going to be doing something. Like let's say, like if you're a gamer and you're, whatever, playing let's say, I don't know. Gosh, I'm so not a gamer, but you're playing like Halo, or Doom, or something like that, right. So you can increase your left and right hand dexterity. But they've also looked into things like skill acquisition. Like learning how to serve a tennis ball better and propulsive force. It's really interesting, and it's just like this device and it kind of shocks your head. Like you get it wet and you put it on, and you can feel like the shock, and you keep it on for 20 minutes, and in it like primes you for the actual activity.
Ben: Yeah. It's really interesting. It's super relevant 'cause I think they just launched like last week as far as they're being like a consumer device. But it's really interesting stuff.
Nick: Yeah. Somebody sent me a link to that and I did check it out. I don't know what the cost on one of those units is, but…
Ben: I want to say it's like 600, 700 bucks.
Nick: That's not too bad.
Ben: They're not inexpensive. But I mean considering that, I know…
Nick: Yeah. That's not too bad. I was thinking 6,000.
Ben: Yeah. Now a lot of professional sports teams are actually using them now, like before competition or before skill acquisition, or before any type of power or explosive training. So it'd probably be right up your alley…
Nick: Yeah. I'd love to check that out. That's another advantage right there.
Ben: Looking at things from like a less biohacking and a more just like natural standpoint, if folks listening in wanted to use some of your go-to exercises for developing speed, what would be some of the top exercises that anybody listening in could incorporate to increase their speed or rate of force development?
Nick: You want the professional level answer or do you want immediate answer, like for the general public?
Nick: Okay. Well, the professional answer, I would need to go through the assessment first and determine the weaknesses in the body. Like I said, primarily it's usually always the feet and the hip are the worst case scenario. So just by any kind of exercise that you can strengthen the feet and the hips in a correct manner is going to improve your speed, and coordination, and whatnot. But for just the general public, I would say, right off the bat, for upper body exercises, I definitely like plyometric pushups, which are very basic. Anyone can do them anywhere. Box jumps…
Ben: Plyometric pushups, just basically push-up, clap your hands, or let your hands leave the ground?
Nick: Yeah. Anything like that, or pushing up, jumping up onto a weight. One of my videos is basically all body weight exercises you can do at home, you can do anywhere. And it shows you all these different explosive exercises. But most of them revolve around like the box jump, bounding exercises are great, I think. Bounding exercise, which would be similar to like skipping or long running strides with a skip in between. People can Google it or whatever. I like pounding, I like squat jumps. But most importantly I think it's the coordination of all the muscles working together. That to me is the most important thing.
Ben: Alright. So we got box jumps, plyometric pushups. Do you want to send me some videos and I'll put them in the show notes. People who'd want to like go look at some examples…
Nick: Yeah, yeah. I can do that.
Ben: If you send me, whatever you send me, I'll put in the show notes over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/speedofsport if you guys want to see what some of these look like.
So how often, how many times per week does someone train for speed? Because I know for something like, let's say like a Crossfit WOD. I'll have athletes who I work with and we test their heart rate variability, or their HRV, and a lot of times, musculoskeletal soreness will have subsided after a typical WOD, within about 48 hours. But in many cases, if you look at HRV, the recovery of the neuromuscular system, it can be 72 hours plus before the nervous system is ready for another training session. When I was a bodybuilder, we'd have sessions where you'd just blast your chest on a Monday and then give it seven full days of recovery to rebuild and to regenerate new muscle fibers. So in the case of speed, do you train speed a certain number of times per week?
Nick: Yeah. Typically like three days a week, and then we'll supplement with like aquatic exercise, which I really like. Like exercises in the pool are amazing for restoring balance to the muscle and joints, and also help to decompress and take the load off the joints. Anybody can do them. I've got another video actually coming out with just pure aquatic exercises. And me, I had a car accident about maybe, I'm going to say 15 years ago, and basically destroyed my hips and my pelvis. And for me, the pool is like just been the best thing to keep going because you maintain your muscle, amazing for reactivity and proprioception. Pool with the water…
Ben: Yeah. One of the funnest workouts that I do is when I go to Malibu, I get in on the Laird Hamilton underwater pool workout. And sometimes we're in the pool from like 8 AM until about 10:30 AM, like two and a half hours in and out of the pool. Like some of that time, you're getting out of the pool in between your hypoxic sets and throwing dumbbells underneath the water, you'll get in the sauna for like 10 minutes, and then the ice tub for five minutes, then back on the pool. But the next day, you're not sore at all 'cause it's all zero impact.
Nick: I don't know if I'd bring dumbbells in there, but…
Ben: Oh yeah. He does like farmer's walks holding his breath at the bottom of the pool, explosive jumps out of the pool with the dumbbells overhead. Crazy exercises.
Nick: Yeah. I'm not big on bringing the weight into the pool. I like just the stimulation of the water itself. Again, that to me is more muscular than what the nervous system component that the water offers, the reactivity and all the sensation you feel in all the bubbles. I reached an extremely high level point of the nervous system when I was in the pool one day, and I was really using the pool a lot, and I was do these things called flye, we do like crossover flyes, but it got to the point where I'm vibrating the arms in the water and I could literally feel the bone within my arm and the muscle flopping around the bone. It felt like I was on like drugs or something because it was so vivid, the feeling. And I just trained the muscle to relax so much and contract so quickly that I was able to feel this, the bone through my bicep just flopping…
Ben: That's crazy.
Nick: Yeah. All that meat need flopping around it. I was like holy (censored), what is going on here? This is like super relaxation, like hyper relaxation, hyper excitation. And that to me that's the highest level, that I've ever experienced in terms of the nervous system training, in terms of control of the body.
Ben: Dude, I could geek out with you for a long time with this stuff. This is pretty cool, but it makes me want to be a little bit more cognizant when I train about including rate of force development and speed training. Because frankly, it sometimes is easy to just like stand over a bar, or get under a bar, and push it and push it hard with heavy weight and let that be your training versus say backing off the weight, and in many cases, I think most of the research is like 40 to 60% of your one RM or less for moving the weight explosively and just focusing more on speed and explosiveness.
Nick: Yeah I think that the main thing that people need to look into is, to be honest, is like what are you training for? What type of strength does your sport require? If it's a lifestyle thing and you just want to get big, then that's fine. Do you weightlifting, you can incorporate some of this stuff into it too and it'll help preserve you and undo some of the detrimental effects. But I think you've got to be honest with what you're training for. And some guys, they lie to themselves. They want to go too heavy, but most sports require speed strength. And if you look at what speed requires to develop speed strength, it's about 20% of your one rep max moved quickly.
Ben: 20% is what you go with.
Nick: Yeah. But I don't even calculate off that. For me, it's more about form and what I see in the gym. I've been doing this stuff a long time so I have my own kind of system, or way of doing things. It's really effective.
Nick: I got like 12 or 13 world championships that I've worked on, so I don't know. Maybe I'm doing something right. Like I have to do Olympians last Olympics, almost three. Conor Dwyer, somebody I trained. Mikaela Mayer, USA boxing, she was in the Olympics. And then Aaron Pico who's a 19 year old phenom wrestler. He lost in the finals of the trials, it was a tie. He lost on curriculum. We got some high level athletes, multiple UFC champions.
Nick: They all like it.
Ben: I like it. And you've got videos, you've got everything over at speedofsport.com.
Nick: Yeah. Oh, just so you know, I put a coupon code up there too. If any of your listeners want to save a little bit of money, they can just put in the coupon code BEN, capital B-E-N, and then they can get a little discount or something there.
Ben: Okay, cool. I'm writing that down to put that in the show notes as well. Coupon code is BEN?
Ben: Okay. Cool. ‘Cause you have some videos like DVDs, stuff like that?
Nick: Yeah. Downloadable videos for purchase, we have a program on there.
Ben: Okay. Got it. Got it. Cool. I'll put all this stuff over at bengreenfieldfitness.com/speedofsport, and you guys can check it out.
Ben: But in the meantime, Nick, thanks for coming on the show and sharing this stuff with us, man.
Nick: No. Absolutely, Ben! I really appreciate it, man. And I'm digging your podcast too. I just started listening about a week ago, but I'm hooked on it right now.
Ben: Awesome. Cool. That's great.
Nick: Alright, buddy.
Ben: It’s great, alright, man. Thanks for coming on the show. And again folks, speedofsport.com is his website. bengreenfieldfitness.com/speedofsport for all the show notes. And in the meantime, I'm Ben Greenfield along with Nick Curson signing out from bengreenfieldfitness.com. Have a healthy week.
You’ve been listening to the Ben Greenfield Fitness Podcast. Go to bengreenfieldfitness.com for even more cutting edge fitness and performance advice.
My guest on today’s podcast is Coach Nick Curson, owner of Speed of Sport. He has produced multiple World, National, International, and Collegiate Champions. He is the head strength and conditioning coach for the famous ALA Boxing Gym in Cebu, Philippines and his primary areas of study are Eastern Bloc Strength & Conditioning, Plyometrics, Biomechanics, Exercise Physiology, and Rehabilitative Exercise.
Speed of Sport is owned and operated by Nick Curson. With over 18 years of experience in nearly every type of strength training modality, Nick has studied extensively with top scientists, sports trainers, strength coaches, Olympic lifters, physical therapists, bio mechanical engineers, professional boxing trainers, martial artists, and more to develop the unique system of training for speed that we discuss on today’s show.
During our discussion, you’ll discover:
-Why Nick is so into training the nervous system when it comes to full body performance (vs., say, the cardiovascular or muscular system)…[10:50]
-The training components Nick emphasizes that most other coaches and personal trainers don’t…[14:40]
-Why heavy strength training is something that you shouldn’t do very often vs. power and speed training…[24:30]
-How to strike a balance between muscle hypertrophy and muscle speed…[34:30]
-The best way to measure the speed of your muscles and rate of force development…[38:45]
-Why Nick always starts by training an athlete’s feet and proprioception…[46:40]
-How this type of training can be used by endurance athletes like triathletes, marathoners and obstacle course racers…[54:32]
-How new “biohacking” headsets like tDCS can increase rate of force development, power and explosiveness…[58:45]
-Nick’s top body weight exercises for developing speed…[61:40]
-And much more!
Resources from this episode:
–SpeedOfSport.com – use coupon BEN
–Halo Neuroscience headset for transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)
–Shuttle Systems plyometric machines
–My interview with Jon Bruney on Neuromass training
–The Bjornsen study Ben discusses (from Paul Jaminet’s website)
–The mPower device for measuring rate of force development