Tag Archives: arousal curve

Super Simple Strength Hack: Do simple math problems in between your heavy sets (seriously!) 

Your muscles aren’t the only body system that benefits from active recovery, your nervous system does too. Looking to smash your PR or achieve higher output on high velocity training? Do simple math problems in your rest periods: 7+4, 6×6, 42/2 etc. you can do them in your head, orally, or write them on a piece of paper. 

This works by providing a mild stimulation along the same neural pathways as your high-demand work sets do; think of this as putting your car in idle as opposed to turning it right off after your set. This isn’t one of those voodoo tricks I made up through some shady inference after reading my psyc 101 textbook, it’s a real effect clinically studied in a strength training context. 

Those of you familiar with the optimal arousal curve will find this tip helpful for both the over and under stimulated lifter. For the under stimulated lifter who “shuts his/her car off” in between attempts benefits from the neural stimulation, doing simple math equations brings them up to idle in between sets; however, the over stimulated lifter that is nervous or afraid of the weight/crowd/judge etc. gets a much needed distraction from the nerve wracking events and now must focus on the simple task of completing the equations – essentially bringing them back to the ideal middle ground of the arousal curve, aka idling instead of revving. 

Give this one a shot, and start tapping into the brain’s awesome potential to modulate physical performance. More articles coming in the future on this subject, stay tuned!