"CNS" stands for Central Nervous System; it is essentially the control center for all muscle actions. The motor units, which initiate muscle contraction, are controlled by neurons (nerve cells). These can produce excitatory (stimulating) or inhibitory impulses. By performing CNS Activation exercises, we can prime the body to generate force quickly and efficiently. The goal is to improve the communication pathway between the CNS and motor units (improving speed of signals) while waking up the body (or “activating” it) by generating excitatory impulses.
For all the endurance athletes out there, make sure you’re adding in some CNS Activation drills into your warmups both on training and race days. This will set the body up for success by properly booting up the system. Excitation allows for muscle contraction whereas inhibitory stimuli will cause relaxation. Make sure you’re training and racing without this built-in safeguard holding you back!
Try adding some of these CNS Activation Drills into your warmup!
1. Quick Feet
2. Wide Outs
3. Forward and Back Hops
4. Line Footwork (Forward, Forward, Back, Back)
Only perform each drill for a few seconds, and allow plenty of rest before starting the next. The goal is to activate the CNS not fatigue it!
Try 2-3 seconds/drill followed by a 30 second rest prior to starting the next. I'd recommend 1-2 sets to start, but I would not exceed 2-3 total. Try incorporating one drill at a time and see how it boosts your performance!