How electro-mechanical delay can negatively affect your lifting

Posted: October 5, 2015 in #how to get strong, #program design, #underground training, #whatsyourgameplan
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Several years ago, I had the opportunity to write a few articles for Mike Mahler’s Aggressive Strength Newsletter. He was the first guy I ever saw doing double kettlebell lifts (100 LB 0r more each).
One of the subjects I wrote about was electro-mechanical delay, briefly it is the time it takes for your muscles actually contract after they receive the signal to fire.

“In contraction of skeletal muscle a delay exists between the onset of electrical activity and measurable tension. This delay in electromechanical coupling has been stated to be between 30 and 100 ms. Thus, in rapid movements it may be possible for electromyographic (EMG) activity to have terminated before force can be detected.”

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1979 Nov;42(3):159-63.
Electromechanical delay in human skeletal muscle under concentric and eccentric contractions.
Cavanagh PR, Komi PV.

As a coach/athlete you have probably how some people will begin a lift, like a deadlift, and not develop whole-body tension before they begin to pull.
They just do not seem to develop enough power that way. It’s almost like an energy leak.
When we had Our Powerlifting Coach, Dru Patrick (aka “the beast-maker”) at the Cave
you could hear his commanding voice bellowing out, “Tight,tight,tight! Everything tight!”

Coach Patrick was a tough, no-nonsense Powerlifter. He had a 550LB raw bench and knew about strength.
He always insisted on the whole body being tight before the lift started; and he was living proof that it made a difference!
In my original article I mentioned two ways to reduce electro-mechanical delay:
1) use a counter-movement prior to moving whatever weight you were using
This is fine for kettlebell training, but not barbell lifts
2) develop whole-body tension before you begin to pull

Just like the beast-maker said, “Tight,tight,tight! Everything tight!”

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