PT on the Net Research

Essentials of Integrated Training - Part 6


Integrated Reactive Neuromuscular Training (RNT/power) is defined as a quick, powerful movement involving an eccentric contraction followed immediately by an explosive concentric contraction. This defines the stretch shortening cycle or the integrated performance paradigm (see figure below). These training exercises are a progression that can be incorporated once a client has achieved proper core and neuromuscular stabilization. They employ the stimulation of the body's proprioceptive mechanism and elastic properties to generate maximal force output in the minimal amount of time.

The Integrated Performance Paradigm

The speed of muscular exertion is limited by neuromuscular coordination. This means that the body will only move within a range of speed that the nervous system has been programmed to allow. Integrated reactive neuromuscular training improves neuromuscular efficiency and improves the range of speed set by the central nervous system (rate of force production). Optimum reactive performance of any activity depends on the speed at which muscular forces can be generated.

This is another component of program design that is often overlooked in traditional training programs. It is often perceived by many to be too dangerous for a typical client. However, integrated reactive neuromuscular training has a systematic progression sequence that allows a client to begin with less demanding exercises and progress to more demanding exercises as they adapt. This is no different than any other form of training. If exercises are given to a client that are too advanced, the client will not have the ability to perform them correctly and will compensate. This will lead to synergistic dominance and faulty movement patterns. When placed within the proper programming scheme with proper progression, reactive neuromuscular training can be a vital component to achieving optimal performance of any activity at any level of ability.

An example of integrated reactive neuromuscular training would be using multi-planar hops with stabilization (see below). It is important to note again that this is a progression and not a starting point for many people.

Multi-planar Hops with Stabilization

Designing an Integrated RNT Program

An Integrated Reactive Neuromuscular Training program is a vital component of an integrated training program. It enhances the excitability, sensitivity and reactivity of the neuromuscular system, increases rate of force production, increases motor unit recruitment, firing frequency (rate coding) and synchronization. An Integrated Reactive Neuromuscular Training program must be systematic and progressive. It is essential that a person have adequate functional strength, adequate kinetic chain structural and functional efficiency and adequate stabilization strength prior to beginning reactive training. The fitness professional must follow specific program guidelines, proper exercise selection criteria and detailed program variables (see below).

Integrated Reactive Neuromuscular Program Design Parameters
Safety Exercise Selection Variables
  • Supportive shoes
  • Proper Training Surface
    • Grass Field
    • Basketball Court
    • Tartan Track Surface (Rubber track Surface)
  • Progressive
  • Proper Supervision
  • Based in Current Science
  • Safe
  • Challenging
  • Progressive
    • Easy to Hard
    • Simple to Complex
    • Known to Unknown
    • Stable to Unstable
    • Bodyweight to Loaded
  • Activity Specific
  • Plane of Motion
  • Range of Motion
  • Type of Resistance
    • Medicine Ball
    • Power Ball
  • Muscle Action
    • Speed of Motion
    • Duration
    • Frequency
    • Amplitude of Movement

The 3 Levels of Optimum Performance Training

There are 3 levels of training within the National Academy of Sports Medicine’s Optimum Performance Training™ model including Stabilization, Strength and Power (see below). A proper integrated reactive neuromuscular training program follows the same systematic progression.

Stabilization

In the Stabilization level of reactive training, exercises involve little joint motion and are designed to establish optimum landing mechanics, postural alignment and reactive neuromuscular efficiency. These exercises emphasize the deceleration (landing) and stabilization (balance) components of the motion. This is to ensure optimal force production in the more advanced strength and power reactive exercises. The stabilization component is challenged by pausing for 4-5 seconds after landing. For example, when performing the Multi-planar hop with Stabilization, the individual will hop from one foot to the other and once they land (decelerate), they will try to balance themselves on the landing foot for 4-5 seconds (stabilize) before performing the next repetition on the opposite foot. Exercises in this level include the following:

Multi-planar Hops with Stabilization
Box Jump up with Stabilization

Strength

In the Strength level of reactive training, exercises involve more dynamic eccentric and concentric movement through a full range of motion. The specificity, speed and neural demand are also progressed in this level. These exercises are designed to improve dynamic joint stabilization, the rate of force production and neuromuscular efficiency of the entire kinetic chain. Unlike the reactive stabilization exercises, these exercises have a minimal stabilization component to them. They involve complete concentric and eccentric contractions with a SLIGHT pause between repetitions. Exercises in this level include the following:

Squat Jump
Tuck Jump

Power

In the Power level of Reactive Neuromuscular Training, exercises involve the entire muscle action spectrum and contraction velocity spectrum during integrated functional movements. These exercises are designed to improve the rate of force production, eccentric strength, explosive strength, reactive strength, reactive joint stabilization, dynamic neuromuscular efficiency and optimum force production. These movements involve constant eccentric and concentric motion with no delay between repetitions. Exercises in this level include the following:

Ice Skaters
Single Leg Power Step Ups

Implementing an Integrated Reactive Neuromuscular Program

Implementing an Integrated Reactive Neuromuscular Training Program requires the fitness professional to simply follow the progression of the Optimum Performance Training™ model.

Integrated Reactive Neuromuscular Program Design
OPT Level
Phase
Core Exercise
Sets/Reps
Rest
Stabilization 1 None (must develop proper core and neuromuscular stabilization first) N/A N/A
2 1-2 Stabilization
  • Multiplanar Hop with Stabilization
  • Box Jump Up with Stabilization
2-3x5-10 60-90 sec.
Strength 3, 4, 5 1 Stabilization and/or 1-2 Strength
  • Box Jump with Stabilization
  • Tuck Jumps
  • Squat Jumps
2-3x8-10 60-120 sec.
Power 6, 7 1-2 Strength and/or 1-2 Power
  • Ice Skaters
  • Single Leg Power Step Ups
2-3x8-10 60-120 sec.

Summary

Integrated reactive neuromuscular training provides the ability to train specific movement patterns in a biomechanically correct manner at a more functionally appropriate speed. This provides better functional strengthening of the muscle, tendon, and ligaments to meet the demands of everyday activities and sports. The ultimate goal of integrated reactive neuromuscular training is to increase the reaction time of muscle action spectrum (eccentric deceleration, isometric stabilization and concentric acceleration).