March 29, 2018
How to Grow: Central Nervous System
WRITTEN BY Jesse O'Brien

Looking to get bigger?

We are embarking on a series of articles that speak to just that. Over the coming weeks we will touch on all things related to growing—both bigger and stronger.

To start:

There are four specific areas in which the nervous system can grow.


Think of your central nervous system as a lightbulb.

The brighter you can make the lightbulb, the greater your nervous system ability.

As you train more consistently for a longer period of time, your capacity to turn on that lightbulb will increase, which indicates that you are able to dig deeper into your nervous system for that given task.


If you have a low training age (0-18 months), you should have a consistent program touching on similar movements to develop the nervous system. You will learn new skills and develop brain and muscle connections, creating a neuroendocrine response. Consistent training with less movement variety will develop opportunities to create maximal contractions in future training sessions.

Ability to Break Down

Neural drive leads to anabolic drive. This means that just because you have the ability doesn’t mean you automatically get to turn on that lightbulb—you have to be using that ability. Think of it like this: You can back squat 400# but then you stop back squatting and take up running for 10 months. After 10 months, you will not be able to back squat 400# because you haven’t been honing your ability consistently to do so.


You need a good balance between being sympathetic and parasympathetic, 60/40% respectively. The sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for intense physical activity and is often referred to as the fight-or-flight response. The parasympathetic nervous system has almost the exact opposite effect and relaxes the body and inhibits or slows many high energy functions. The effects of the parasympathetic nervous system can be summarized by the phrase 'rest and digest.’

Assessing the Central Nervous System

Central Athlete coaches have a few go-to tests to determine the state of clients’ nervous systems.

Grip Dynamometer: Develops a baseline and then intermittently tests this to see how recovered a client is from training.

Omegawave: Assesses the functional state of your cardiac, central nervous and energy supply systems.

Assault Bike Wattage Test: Finds the maximum amount of wattage possible in the shortest amount of time. This score can be used fairly often to get a subjective measure on the state of the nervous system.

2-Rep Max Jerk from Blocks: To ensure accuracy of this test, we only use this for competent lifters with a higher training age.

A series of in-office testing that all Central Athlete coaches conduct in each client's initial consultation will shed light on which area(s) is lacking, preventing you from growing. If you’re tired of spinning your wheels or you want to know which method will serve you best, then click the link below to schedule a FREE strategy session with one of our health and fitness consultants.

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