Maybe you’ve heard this before, but… You’re stronger than you think!
Most of us associate the saying with mental strength.
That’s not the wrong, nor a bad, association.
Yes, we are indeed mentally stronger than we think.
Parkour, as a sport, is pretty much founded on that principle.
We’re also physically stronger than we experience.
Maybe you’ve heard of cases where humans have lifted something we believe only possible in fantasy.
Stopped a car, pressed a 1500 lbs rock that fell on top of them, etc.
It sounds impossible.
So why can’t you simply go over to the weight rack, put on a (quite) a few 45lbs plates and lift them?
On one hand, our brain is pretty impressive.
On the other, it’s also really, really(!), careful about making sure you’re not hurting yourself.
Need an example? How about a time where your range of motion was impacted by an injury.
Without plenty of Physical Therapy, your brain would normally disallow your limbs to return to the position where they got injured.
Although this is a good (great!) thing, it can be frustrating if your performance depends on the full functional range of the injured limb.
Then, because it was injured, it will take a lot of safe repetitions to return the limb to its former functional range.
Your friendly neighborhood protector
This is all due to the brain.
It’s not as if the muscle itself knows it needs to “chill out”.
But the brain thinks it does.
So it “protects” you from getting back into that position again.
Back to that whole lifting a car thing…
Some of the answer has to do with bone strength v.s. muscle strength, muscle strength vs tendon & ligament strength.
Basically, if you were able to always recruit the full strength of the muscle.
One estimate puts the typical muscle fibre recruitment at “maximum effort” – i.e. without going into the hysterical strength range – at 60% for “normal people” and peaking at 80% for athletes. The 80 percenters are athletes who train specifically for maximum muscle recruitment.
For ur mere mortals, the reality of the situation is that our brain worries about us.
Not just about our muscle recruitment ability, but also about what 100% recruitment means to our ability to continue moving/fighting/acting.
The energy required to recruit all of our muscle fibers will drain us. Possibly to the point where we can’t run away or avoid the next threat.
Also, it may cause injury to some of our limbs (pulling tendons off the bone, tearing muscles, etc).
Both of those are things our brain wants to make sure doesn’t happen.
Because in the wrong situation, that would mean we couldn’t defend ourselves. Nor could we run away.
Not at all optimal!
So your brain protects you from idiotic things.
Until you actually, truly, need it.
Then your body shows you what an amazing machine it is!
How about to increasing your muscle fiber recruitment during today’s training session?