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Intramuscular Coordination Explained (For Coaches)

What is Intramuscular Coordination?

Intramuscular coordination is the speed, efficiency, and pattern with which motor units in the same muscle activate together or in an alternating fashion to produce a contraction and create movement. It refers to the nervous system’s ability to activate the muscles and measures how many muscular fibers can be controlled and engaged simultaneously.

Intramuscular vs. Intermuscular Coordination

Intramuscular coordination refers to the activity created by the nervous system within a single muscle. For example, if you flex your bicep as hard as possible, intramuscular coordination will determine the strength of the contraction.

In contrast, intermuscular coordination is the coordinated activation of motor units across several muscle groups. It plays a significant role in the timely activation of different muscles to produce more complex movements at the right moment. 

For instance, intermuscular coordination plays a crucial role during complex patterns like the squat or hip hinge, as multiple muscle groups must work together to stabilize the body and produce movement.

A simple way to remember the two is:

  • Intramuscular – intra, or something that happens inside one muscle
  • Intermuscular – inter, or something that happens between two or more muscles

FAQ

1. What role does neuromuscular efficiency play in the equation?

Neuromuscular efficiency is how well the nervous system can recruit muscles to produce force for specific activities. Developing it through specific practice improves trainees’ ability to contract individual muscles.

2. What activities improve intramuscular coordination?

Balance exercises, compound movements done at a high intensity (e.g., bench pressing 80-85+% of 1RM), and plyometrics force greater motor unit recruitment and improve intramuscular coordination.

Related Terms in Muscle Category