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Intermuscular Coordination Explained

What is Intermuscular Coordination?

Intermuscular coordination is the ability of multiple muscle groups to work together and produce more complex movements, such as barbell lifts like the deadlift. It measures the nervous system’s ability to activate the correct muscles at the right times to produce enough force.

Intermuscular vs. Intramuscular Coordination

Intermuscular coordination measures the ability of multiple muscle groups to work together during more complex activities like performing barbell lifts, jumping, running, and swimming. 

In contrast, intramuscular coordination refers to the nervous system’s ability to engage motor units within a single muscle, force a strong contraction, and generate enough force. For instance, if an athlete flexes their triceps, intramuscular coordination will determine that muscle’s ability to engage.

You can differentiate between the two by looking at the prefix of each term. Intermuscular is something that happens between two or more muscles, whereas intramuscular means ‘within’ or the activity inside a single muscle.

Is Intermuscular Coordination the Same as Neuromuscular Efficiency?

Though the two may seem like the same thing, intermuscular coordination and neuromuscular efficiency refer to different things.

Intermuscular coordination measures the ability of two or more muscles to work together to produce movement. 

In contrast, neuromuscular efficiency refers to the nervous system’s ability to communicate with muscles; it’s the quality of nerve-muscle communication and encompasses intermuscular and intramuscular coordination.

FAQ

How can athletes improve intermuscular coordination?

The best way to improve intermuscular coordination is for athletes to get plenty of quality practice on sport-specific activities. That would mean practicing the big three with heavy enough loads for a powerlifter, the snatch and clean and jerk for an Olympic lifter, kicking a ball for a football player, and shooting a ball for a basketball player.

Of course, this is an oversimplification, as optimal performance in each sport depends on more than just the above. But it is fundamentally true, as practice improves neuromuscular efficiency, which depends on intra- and intermuscular coordination.

Related Terms in Muscle Category