Why You Should Consider Activating Your Central Nervous System Before A Workout

The central nervous system (CNS) plays an important role in your workout, per Verywell Fit. It is made up of the brain and spinal cord and connects to the entire body. During exercise, the CNS communicates with your muscles and tells them to perform certain actions. Team USA Gold Medal World Championship winner Raquel Harris explains further: "The central nervous system is responsible for processing information and influencing bodily activity. When working out, it regulates our breathing, movement, and muscle contraction." 

There are many benefits to activating the CNS ahead of a workout (via Verywell Fit). This process prepares your body for the actions you'll want it to perform during the training session, allowing you to maximize your performance. It also increases the amount of force available to carry out certain tasks, such as lifting weights. Another benefit is strengthening the mind-muscle connection and increasing your ability to create muscle memories, which is an important factor in streamlining and optimizing your workouts.

Activating the CNS is a simple process that involves basic warm-up exercises (per Verywell Fit). And if you aren't already warming up before a training session, you should be, advises the American Heart Association. Warm-ups prevent injury and prepare your cardiovascular system for the intense activities ahead. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Exercise Rehabilitation found that warming up before a workout reduces muscle stiffness, raises body temperature, and increases flexibility, with the added bonus of boosting self-confidence. To properly prime your CNS, however, you'll want to engage in some specific exercises.

These exercises will activate your central nervous system

To warm up and activate your central nervous system (CNS), start with some basic exercises to get your heart pumping, recommends Verywell Fit. This can include some light jogging or walking on a treadmill, jumping jacks, or a few minutes on a rowing machine or stair climber. You'll want to feel like you're exerting yourself but not at the same level you would during the course of the actual training session. Once you've completed this stage of the warm-up, you'll move into a set of explosive movements, which is key for telling your CNS that it's time to wake up.

Muscle & Fitness gives a few examples of these explosive movements, also known as primers. All of them incorporate the use of a medicine ball weighing between 4 and 8 pounds. The reactive scoop toss involves standing perpendicular to a wall and throwing the ball toward it while only rotating your torso. You'll do between three and six of these on each side. Another primer is the vertical jump. Starting with both feet on a box, step down with one foot and then the other, jumping as high in the air as you can when your second foot hits the floor. Perform anywhere between five and 10 jumps. In addition to medicine ball exercises, Verywell Fit points out that jump squats, broad jumps, kettlebell swings, and plyometric push-ups will all achieve the same result in activating your CNS.