The Best Exercises and Lifts for Greater Intensity and Neural Stimulation


Neural stimulation or neuro-muscular activation is very important when it comes to lifting if you want serious, Irothumb-caliber results. Exercises and moves are obviously not created equal and of course one is more effective than the other.

The best way to select the best exercises for any body part is by evaluating the degree at which it induces neuro-muscular activation. Simply put this activation is the rate at which your CNS (nervous system) is involved or is activated in a lift or in a move. Some exercises induce more neuro-muscular activation than the others – particularly free weight and compound exercises.

It’s all about the “Danger response”:

That goes without saying that lifts or exercises that involve more CNS or induce the greatest Neuro-muscular activation are the ones that lead to greater muscle gains (and strength gains). Basically the more demanding an exercise is to the CNS, the better the gains since your body will also induce greater adaptational response since CNS activation makes your body sense “danger” since these moves are more challenging and require more focus or else something might go wrong. Imagine losing your focus on free weight squat vs. smith machine squat.

Guidelines: These are the few things you need to remember. Lifts that involve the most neuro-muscular or CNS involvement are the ones that:

1) involve free weights

2) are compound (not isolation like flyes and leg extensions)

3) and involves moving the body as well

Below we have the list of the exercises for each body part that induce the greatest Neuro-muscular activation (in cephalocaudal order)

Neck: Wrestler’s bridge – no you dont need to do it with a heavy weight like below, for you it might sufice with just your body weight.

wrestler's bridge

Traps: Farmer walks

Shoulders: Upside down pushups

Chest: weighed dips and weighed push-ups

Back: Inverted rows and Chins (any grip)

Biceps: supinated grip chins shoulder width

Triceps: Weighed bench dips

Lower Back: Hyper extensions and Deadlifts

Quadriceps:  Free weight barbell squats

Hamstrings: Good Mornings and stiff legged Deadlifts

Calves: Standing Calf raises and donkey calf raises with a partner straddled on your back

donkey calf raises arnold

Now that doesn’t mean that you will execute those and ONLY those! That only means that you must heavily involve these moves into your regimen but regularly include variety into your training and off course for a bodybuilder, you need to do isolation exercises regularly.

Let me ask you: among those lifts listed above, which one is your favorite? Or would you like to add another one? Please do so in the comments section below. Eat your eggs, people!

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