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Neuromuscular Efficiency: Definition, Benefits, and How to Improve It

What is Neuromuscular Efficiency?

Neuromuscular efficiency, also known as NME, refers to the efficiency of the nervous system and muscles working together to produce movement. Factors that influence it include muscle coordination, muscle contraction timing, force production, and the skill to perform the movement at hand. High NME means the athlete can perform complex movements more smoothly and efficiently without generating as much fatigue.

Why is Neuromuscular Efficiency Important?

Neuromuscular efficiency is a good indicator of muscle function, strength, and the ability to activate motor units to produce force and create movement. The higher it is, the more efficiently athletes can perform their sport’s required movements with better precision and control.

Athletes who move more efficiently and with greater precision are less likely to end up in a compromised position that can cause injury.

Good NME also means athletes can perform all the necessary movements without expending as much energy or generating as much fatigue. This can be particularly beneficial during long, demanding races, competitions, and training blocks.

How to Improve Neuromuscular Efficiency

First, it’s crucial to understand how neuromuscular efficiency matters for an athlete. For example, a sprinter values speed and explosiveness, whereas a powerlifter needs strength and skill to move as much weight as possible through a specific range of motion.

So, specificity is key, and athletes must practice the relevant movements at a high enough intensity.

Second, strength and power training can help athletes improve their muscles’ ability to contract and produce as much force as possible. This involves lifting weights close to one’s 1RM and moving lighter weights (say, around 60% of 1RM) as quickly as possible for multiple sets of 2 to 6 reps.

Additionally, lots of practice with the movements the athlete wants to improve can also help. One popular approach is the greasing the groove method.


1. How can you tell if an athlete’s neuromuscular efficiency improves?

Signs that neuromuscular efficiency is improving include greater control during specific movements, more stability, and an improved ability to perform complex activities with precision and without getting as tired. Measuring electromyography (EMG) activity can also provide valuable data, though this method is not as accessible to coaches.

2. How does neuromuscular efficiency affect sports performance?

Neuromuscular efficiency plays a considerable role in sports performance. It affects an athlete’s power output, efficiency, balance, and endurance, all of which are important for injury prevention.

3. Can improving neuromuscular efficiency help with injury recovery?

Neuromuscular training to improve or restore muscle function and control can improve people’s movement capacity following an injury. More precise and efficient movement may even reduce the risk of future injuries.

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