Those of you that follow my Podcast, Peak Mental Performance, know that I do a lot with the neurological side of performance and training. As many strength & conditioning coaches, lifters, and athletes know; strength performance is largely determined by your ability to create force through your nervous system, not just by the size or density of your muscle tissue.
Halo Neuroscience is a company started by a neuroscience researcher who created one of the first implantable brain stimulation devices to prevent seizures - And about a year ago they created a consumer device that uses transcranial direct current stimulation (TDCS) to the motor cortex of the brain to improve athletic performance. Their idea is that through stimulation of the motor cortex, motor patterns will be ingrained better, and things like force output and rate of force production will be increased because the neurons will be firing better. There's a good chunk of research behind TDCS, but like many things, how practically it works for athletes is something that there's still a lot of questions on.
Halo Neurosport asked me if I would be interested in testing one of their devices for a 6-week period in my training to see how it would impact it. I thought about it for a while at first, because I wanted to make sure I could realistically provide honest feedback on it, and that I could think of a way to theoretically maximize it's intended effects in my training. I had a conference call with them and decided to do a 6-week period of training to look at a few variables that I'll write on in a future article.
They've had a powerlifter and a few other athletes with a strength focus use their device before, but no one (to my knowledge) has tried using it specifically to maximize post activation potentiation (PAP), and compensatory acceleration training. Theoretically, (and we'll see how it plays out), the increased ability to fire motor neurons should amplify the effects of using things like accomodating resistance in training to maximize force production; and in the case of a scenario where you do all your warm up sets with bands, and then take the bands off for your work sets, the PAP effects for those work sets should be amplified.
So, the gameplan for the next 6 weeks is to utilize the same 3-day training setup I currently have been using, but to tweak some warm-up weight percentages so that way all my sets (with the exclusion of my top AMRAP set) are all using accommodating resistance (in the form on bands) and are focusing on putting as much force into those sets as possible. This includes down sets for squat as well.
Obviously this isn't a controlled trial by any means, but it should be interesting to see how it all plays out. At the end of the 6 weeks I'll be writing an article for elitefts about trans cranial direct stimulation research, and then my personal experience using it in training. I'm going to look at:
- Average number of reps achieved over prescribed number
- Time it takes throughout sets to feel warmed up/feel things "firing"/speed improve
- Training max increase compared to previous training waves
- and a few other variables.
If nothing else, should be an interesting experience! Stay tuned..