The short answer is Yes/Maybe. Before we talk about how, we need a little background info:
Let's start with muscle fatigue. In the simplest terms, muscle fatigue means the muscle is producing less force. In strength training, that's the result of 2 reasons: central fatigue and peripheral fatigue.
- Central fatigue refers to physiological changes that occur within the central nervous system (CNS) and results in a decrease in the neural drive to the muscle.
- Peripheral fatigue refers to motor units specifically and describes mechanical and cellular changes inside the muscle.
Peripheral fatigue changes the recruitment threshold of motor units. In other words, when a muscle starts to fatigue, the high-threshold motor units are recruited at lower levels of force. So even though it might be a bodyweight exercise or an exercise with sub-maximal weights, high-threshold motor units are recruited as a result of muscle fatigue. (Drum Roll) This can result in muscle hypertrophy.
Muscle hypertrophy is a term used to describe the growth and increase in the size of muscle cells. “The muscle fibers that are governed by high-threshold motor units are far less oxidative than those that are governed by low-threshold motor units, and are also more responsive to the mechanical stimulus that leads to hypertrophy.” Chris Beardsley does a fantastic job of explaining how this all works - check out his article.
WHAT’S IT LOOK LIKE?
One very effective way to recruit high-threshold motor units with very little or no equipment is to do a combination of SPEED/POWER + GENERAL STRENGTH TRAINING:
So something like this:
- Squat Jumps (SPEED/POWER) + Reverse Lunges (GST)
- Plyometric Pushups (SPEED/POWER) + Conventional Pushups (GST)
And heads up - you need to go straight into the GST exercise - DO NOT REST after doing the POWER/SPEED movement!
SHOULD I TRY IT?
If you’ve been strength training consistently over the past few months, the power movements might be a great thing for you to add to your program. If you’ve been hit or miss with training, stick GST for 3-4 weeks before adding Power/Speed exercises!