Rick – Hey Vince, we have been in touch on Facebook, but many people might not know who you are. Could you let people know a little about who Vince is?
Rick, it’s great finally having the opportunity to chat. I’ve been in the fitness and strength & conditioning field since 1983. My initial work was primarily working with junior and professional tennis players back. This was rare to find tennis players doing much more than spending up to 6-8 hours on a tennis court. I helped introduce many players to the benefits of off-court training, which included resistance training, plyometrics, speed work, and various forms of stretching.
Being that I was a dedicated martial artist and had a background in other sports such as baseball, football, basketball– and tennis–I clearly understood the value of the type of training I was doing and how it would benefit a tennis player or any other athlete. This was back when strength training, in general, was discouraged by the majority except in football. I realize that if I am not living the example, I am teaching, little will be received as anything more than jibberish. Wow, have times changed in the last 20+ years?
I have since owned and operated a few different training businesses and facilities. Since 2004, I have owned and operated a private training facility, McConnell Athletics. My clientele is a “bizarre” base and ranges from 9-year-old athletes to professionals, and general clientele from those in their 20’s to come in their 80s.
Nervous System Development (NSD). What is NSD?
Rick – One thing that caught my eye when I was looking at your site was Nervous System Development (NSD). What is NSD?
I coach competitive athletes and general clients by emphasizing “the how” rather than getting caught up in “the what and why.” I say this to illustrate that there are plenty of other professionals out there who are better qualified to describe what a method is and why we use it scientifically.
NSD, or nervous system development, is a training application that targets the “ignition switch-to-spark plug” aspect of muscular activity. Think of your muscles as the engine and the nervous system as the electrical connection that signals the muscles to not only contract but also at the necessary potential for the job.
In other words, no matter how much “potential” that engine may possess, the engine is of little use if the electrical signal is weak or nonexistent. Its size will be more of a burden than any benefit. By training our nervous system to fire both efficiently and powerfully, we tap into the performance potential of our muscular system.
An athlete’s surface assessment can show a well-developed physique, yet they can still be deficient in the function required by their specific activity. Interestingly, the reciprocal can be true as well. Nearly everyone reading this has witnessed a seemingly average-looking individual perform a task with a level of strength and power far surpassing their appearance. Of course, most athletes prefer to have the best of both (appearance of strength with the goods to back it up!), and that’s my typical objective in working with athletes.
The type of exercises for NSD would include medicine ball drills and plyometrics of various styles. The key to success in these drills is for the client to stay fresh–both muscularly and systemically.
The reps will be moderate, and I’ll keep the general work-to-rest in a 1:3-5 ratio, depending on the reps and intensity.
As you can see, boot camps are not the best stage for NSD drills! This is NOT the time to seek fatigue. For instance, doing plyo pushups to failure is counteractive to improvement in nervous system development.
I must add that even with my general clientele, I also implement some NSD work in their programs. I have observed far-reaching benefits to the health and performance of all clients. By training to keep the nervous system fine-tuned along with other attributes. Including mobility, body composition, and endurance.
How does NSD fit into your program design?
Rick – How does NSD fit into your program design?
In regards to program design. I have found the best place to put our NSD work is either in the later stages of our prep phase (aka warm-up) for general clientele. Or right after the prep phase is bi-placed with core stability work or a mobility drill. By combining the NSD drills with a non-competing drill. Such as a particular core stabilization exercise or mobility drill. I can keep the density of the training session higher without compromising fatigue becoming an issue.
Another way I’ll implement NSD drills into a program is through contrast sets. I’ll have a client perform a strong set of 5-7 reps followed immediately by an “explosive” exercise stopping short of failure. This is an excellent variation of the above that I cycle in.
I’ve found that by timing the explosive part of the contrast set (as opposed to counting reps). There is better efficiency and quality of each rep. Again, we are not looking for failure here, just explosiveness. An example would be a horizontal press like a barbell bench press followed by a plyo pushup with hands on a bench. The fact that we are doing back-to-back exercises here mandates. That the NSD drill is of lesser intensity (plyo pushup on a bench The NSD drill is less intense if the NSD drill was done by itself. Again, enough rest to ensure the performance with each contrast is consistent.
Rick, I hope that gives a decent understanding of how we implement training the nervous system into our programs.
NSD Drill Sample
Rick – Do you have an example of an NSD drill?
You bet; here you go:
About Vince McConnell
Rick – Where can people get more information about you?
We are about to upgrade our website, www.mcconnelltraining.com, and you can find McConnell Athletics on Facebook. My email address is [email protected].
I always welcome feedback and questions. I try to answer every message as soon as possible personally.
Also, please check out www.movementlectures.com. I have a lecture you can order, the “Role of a Personal Strength Coach.” And I have more lectures on the way that will be up on the site soon. Laree Draper is doing a magnificent job with this new venture, which will continue to be an invaluable resource for continuing education for anyone interested in all aspects of fitness, well-being, and performance.
Thank you, Vince.
Rick Kaselj, MS