Questions related to neuromuscular effiency. Questions related to neuromuscular effiency.

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Thread: Questions related to neuromuscular effiency.

  1. #1
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    Default Questions related to neuromuscular effiency.

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    As the months have gone by training, I've been noticing certain tendencies in how the lifts go, what fails when, how the failures happen, and I'm getting a bit perplexed. I am noticing that there is a big disparity between the upper body pressing movements and the lower body movements (deadlift and squat). I'm not speaking on the basis of weight lifted, since obviously there is going to be a big disparity between upper and lower in that regard. The difference comes in how the reps proceed and what failure tends to be like. Namely, my squat and deadlift tend to have very slow reps, and I rarely actually encounter failures on them because I am able to just grind through when they get hard. Even if it takes a few seconds, a grind will get usually me that last rep.

    On bench and press though, this rarely if ever happens. The reps tend to proceed quicker (which may be natural), but the grinds often end in failure. Typically they will hit that sticking point, I'll continue to strain against it for maybe a second or two with no movement, and then the bar will start to sink under the continued tension instead of pushing up past it. Only on rare occasion will it proceed up to lockout, and when it does the "grind" portion still tends to be short. On top of that, I will very often end up with the situation of set 1 succeeding, and then the next failing. I've gone with rest periods as high as 7 minutes and keep hitting this. For example, today when I pressed, I did 127.5 for 5. Tried this again 7 minutes later, and failed to get a third rep. I ended up backing off 5% and doing two more sets at 122.5 (one of the LP extension procedures in PPST, although strangely online concensus seems to be this works best for squats, not pressing movements). These were hard, but I got them. This dilemma of post set 1 burnout has come up a lot in the program with these two lifts, and I've often had to reset to get past it. But as of my last press reset it wasn't able to get past the point I reset at for a full three sets, even repeating that weight on consecutive workouts 2-3 times. I wasn't even sure the 127.5 today would work for set 1, but it worked.

    So, after that (probably far too long) preamble, I've got two questions. The first: is it possible to have neuromuscular efficiency on the "higher" end in muscles related to the upper body presses, but not in others? The phenomenon of completing the first set and never seeming to be able to fully recover afterward to do subsequent sets at the same weight in the same workout seems to be attributed to a high NME in things I've read and listened to.

    The other question I have is, are there any special considerations one should make if you are dealing with a high NME? PPST said the 5% backoff sets were useful for someone in that boat, or at least that's how I read it. I'm not even sure if I am, but descriptions I have heard of what a high NME lifter is like seem to at least anecdotally match my experience. I've tried searching around for any more detailed information on this stuff, but I've found only general statements to the tune of "they need to be careful not to burn out fast". Articles I've found focus more on how low NME affects training.

  2. #2
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    First thing that comes to mind as an explanation of what you're seeing is that the upper body lifts use muscle groups that are much smaller than those used in the squat or deadlift. They get fatigued quicker.
    Second thing is that the press is very technique-dependent. A barbell pushed forward even one inch of the bar path is harder to rescue especially if you've already lifted the thing 3 times and have some fatigue. It would be important to know if you're pressing correctly.

    I just don't think that NME could be an explanation for what you're seeing. I think it's more closely tied to the muscle groups used in the lifts, and then technique.

  3. #3
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    Could be. I'm working entirely on personal anecdotes here, both from recent training and in past experiences with dabbling in lifting weights and other athletic activities. But this happens on both bench and overhead press. My press tends to not stray out too far I feel, it's skimmed my nose on the way up a few times in the past anyway, before I started to get the initial hip movement down. Whatever it is, a lowered weight to get all three sets across instead of just the first one seems to not be driving further adaptation. I'm going to see where doing the second and third as 5% backoff sets takes me. Even if it doesn't get me very far, it'll be easier to convert data for sets of 5 into intermediate programming.

  4. #4
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    Well, if the backoff sets are still driving progress, then that's good. Back when I was LP'ing I found that I liked switching to triples. Whatever works.

    In regards to your first question about potential difference in NME in upper/lower body:
    A while ago, due to boredom and wanting to practice excel formulas, I made a table that shows my 1RMs and at what percentages my 5RMs and 3RMs are: Capture.jpg.
    With lower NME, I would expect to see that there's less distance between the 5,3, and 1RM. And with high NME the opposite. This is highlighted in this article describing differences in male/female training: Training Female Lifters: Neuromuscular Efficiency | Mark Rippetoe
    Seeing that my percentages for 3RMs and 5RMs are pretty much same across the board, I would guess that there's no difference in NME for my upper and lower. If you're curious you could map this out too.

  5. #5
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    Could you make us a better photo of this table, so we can actually read it?

  6. #6
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    Huh, it came out tiny...
    Maybe this will work: Imgur: The magic of the Internet

  7. #7
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    Thanks. When I was working at this level, my numbers for 5s in the SQ and DL were more in line with your 3s, and thus your upper body lifts. So, I don't know, except to say that there are variations in both MNE and motivation/psyche, and they both contribute to the ability to turn a 5RM into a 1RM. And this is why percentage tables and RPE are always inaccurate.

  8. #8
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    Well, an experiment Saturday with 10 minute rests on my bench press produced good results also. I had previously been doing 5 as a baseline, and going up to 6 or 7 on rest as I felt was needed, but I generally only do that with squats, because I feel more worn out after a squat set than bench or press. But 10 minute rests actually yielded a new sets across PR. Even though I don't feel the accumulated fatigue at all 5 minutes after a work set on the upper body, I guess it's just still there.

    The 1RM related measurements are actually one of the reasons I was suspecting a high NME was causing this. Back in college I took a weight training class (not a very good one, knowing what I know now, guy running it was an endurance athlete, surprise surprise). He had us set our initial working sets based on percentages from a 1RM test. I know 1RMs are not really useful for novices for several reasons, but I distinctly remember having to significantly lower the weight on some lifts from the recommended percentages.

  9. #9
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    I did some 1RM attempts this week since Thursday is one of my usual training days and well, getting a workout in on Thanksgiving just isn't gonna happen. I figured I'd try something a little different since it'll be a different sort of week. The numbers I managed to get actually match up fairly well with what you've got there. So I guess I'm pretty average in the NME department, which is fine. But I do still wonder what is causing certain things to occur.

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