I want to alert my readers to an exciting new study that was recently published in the Journal of Neurophysiology. The study deals with mental imagery, also known in the literature as imagined contractions. I briefly mentioned this phenomenon in a T-Nation article I wrote three years ago with my colleague Brad Schoenfeld titled Why Bodybuilders Are More Jacked Than Powerlifters. I actually used mental imagery during my deloading the week prior to my last powerlifting meet, and I truly believe that it helped me achieve my goal of deadlifting 600 lbs. I also used mental imagery when I first pulled 585 lbs two years ago, which I mentioned HERE.
What’s that bro? Speak up. You like the pump? That’s okay, don’t be afraid to admit it. I like the pump too. In fact, I even published a journal article on the topic with my good friend Brad Schoenfeld HERE. I like feeling a glute pump, a quad pump, a ham pump, a pec pump, a delt pump, a back pump, and an arm pump. I’ve written in the past about how to achieve a glute pump HERE. If you want a quad pump, all you need to do is bust out a few sets of medium to high rep leg extensions with short rest periods. Same goes for leg curl variations and the hammies. But what if you don’t train in a commercial gym – what if you train out of your garage or out of a facility that doesn’t have leg extension and leg curl machines?
Was your father Zeus or Odin? Did you ever have a favorable exposure to Gamma radiation? Have you ever been bitten by a radioactive genetically modified spider? No? Well maybe you hit the genetic lottery then when it came to strength. We all know or have seen people who display almost super human strength characteristics. Bret wrote a good article several years back on the subject titled The Truth About Bodybuilding Genetics.
Our genetic makeup determines so much of who we are and what we do. It determines how we look and influences how we act. It also determines how our bodies react to environmental stimuli. For example, if two people perform the exact same exercise routine, they won’t respond in exactly the same way. One person might put on more lean muscle mass and get stronger than the other individual. The differences in responses may be small or in some rare cases extreme. Before continuing, I believe it would be helpful to give a little refresher on some biology terms.
Some popular strength coaches have claimed that the leg press does not build “functional strength”.
Functional strength refers to basic movements that we all need to perform on a daily basis, like getting out of a chair, climbing up and down stairs, and walking across town. It can also refer to athletic performance measures, like vertical jump height, horizontal jump distance, and short-distance sprinting ability.
Since a small number of research studies have actually investigated whether leg press training leads to improvements in such tests of real-world muscular function, we can put these claims to the test.