Eyes Looking Up and Force Production
First post here, but I've been reading for some time. Rip, you and I have had some e-mail interactions about Starr/Hechter and then recently, Juggernaut.
A fellow strength coach saw a video of me deadlifting and advised I "look up" by keeping a neutral spine and head position while looking towards my eyebrows. He is far more versed in physiology than I am. And we wound up debating the topic at length. I did find (and use) two quotes where you had discussed both the head position and the eyeball position. However, the part you never addressed is the possibility of an increased force production due to the eyeballs looking up. This was an extremely long conversation. I will keep it as streamlined as possible:
Libertas Di Alogues: Most people change the position of their head/tilting it back to “look up”. While looking up does stimulate the CNS to increase the force of extension movements, just as looking down does flexion movements, we look with our eyes, not our head. The position of the eyes need to change, not the head, if you tilt your head back to look up then your eyes are still more forward then up. A good way to look at it is, head neutral and stare at your eyebrows just prior to pulling.
I first learned of the role that eye placement plays in achieving optimal movement efficiency about five years ago when I traveled to Chicago for a week long seminar/certification for Z- Healths, “Essentials of Elite Performance.” The seminar was completely based on neurology and the role that the CNS plays during human movement as well as the developmental process of an athlete. During the visual, vestibular, and proprioception segment of the seminar we covered many topics; one specifically was “eye placement.” Dr. Eric Cobb, the founder of Z-Health went into great detail, but for the sake of time, the summary was as follows, eyes up: facilitates extension, eyes down: flexion, eyes right: right rotation, right extension and left flexion, eyes left: left rotation, left extension, and right flexion. Over the course of many years of further investigation/research and implementation I learned that this understanding made significant differences in movement efficiency which ultimately improved an individual’s athletic ability, regardless of the specifics of their given sport.
I tried this over the past 2 workouts and with 2 clients. I used the cue of "look at your eyebrows." It was very difficult for both clients to keep their heads from coming up (similar to what Rip said would be the body's natural reaction.) After some work, they kept neutral spines. However, they both felt unstable. This is of course not "evidence" of anything, other than the learning curve of the suggested technique might be very high, especially if the lifter is already used to other ways. Similarly, I'm sure you know how hard it is to break someone from the head up habit to neutral position if it's something they've been doing since 9th grade football.
I had similar results of feeling unstable, especially in the squat. However, today I was doing Pendlay Rows, and I was alternating reps between looking down and at my eyebrows. I must say, I'm pretty sure I felt a difference. It felt slightly smoother/faster. Now, there is the huge variable with your eyebrows being a non-moving object in the row. I will toy around with this a bit, see if I get more comfortable and what I think. I'll experiment with a few of my more seasoned, adventurous clients.
At the end of the day though, you keep only wanting to discuss the force generated-- the positive response. Every time I've mentioned any possible negative reactions (balance, head moving up, etc) you've just responded with "that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about force production." Well, no... We're talking about its affect on weightlifting, and we should consider all reactions of the technique.
Have you ever heard of force production and the position of the eyeball in its socket?
I have interacted with some people extremely learned in the neuromuscular junction. They all have some technique that is supposed to make you stronger, yet I never hear of this at an elite level in weightlifting. Do you have any experience with the indirect ways our body sends signals and is connected on the neurological (I think this is the right word) side?
I also mentioned that I have never seen any elite weightlifters use this technique. Have you ever seen this technique used?
Do you want to see the whole 37 comment long conversation?? (I kid, I kid)
1. I am familiar with the fact that there has been a study done. Being an exfizz study, I am quite sure there are methodological problems with it. Without having read it, were the eyball positions quantified, and were the exercises used in the study quantified?
2. I have a rather large amount of experience with human movement, and with eyes down/eyes up variation in barbell training. I have no idea what "the indirect ways our body sends signals and is connected on the neurological side" means.
3. I have seen all possible techniques used. This does not mean that they were all efficiently used.
4. Please, god, NO.
Isn't Z-Health just entirely more Silly Bullshit?
I could post some videos I guess, but I think it might be too much for poor old Rip if I did.
I'm better off not digging myself an illiterate hole explaining what I was saying. I just didn't know how much you utilized any knowledge of the neuromuscular junction in strength training-- how place on the bottom of your foot can stimulate a reaction in your body somewhere far apart, like your torso. I'm gullible with these types of claims, due to my lack of physiology education. If that doesn't make any sense, not only do I completely understand, I won't blame you for beating my over the head figuratively with your keyboard.
If I find any specifics on the study, I will post them. I will look into it tomorrow.
Since anecdote is the singular of data, here's my irrefutable proof. I suck at the squat, period, but I for some reason can do it a lot easier (that is, I generate more force) when I follow Rip's guidance to look down (a point six to eight foot in front of me on the floor) than when I look up.
Try it yourself, decide for yourself. Nothing Rip writes is carved in stone, and different people may get different results. However, in most cases these elaborate arguments are wastes of time compared to the incredible mountain of anecdote that Rip has learned from.
Talking about staring points reminds me of something. If you want to measure approximately 6 - 8 feet, a barbell is 7 feet long, you can just use that.