De-Inhibition Training: The Secret to Unlocking Unseen Limit

By Josh Bryant and Joe Giandonato

Fred Hatfield pioneered de-inhibition training

You don’t go outside and grab the mail naked, even if you are not embarrassed or have no ethical qualms, it can still land you in county.

But what about that one time on Avenida Revolution in Tijuana after a night of wine, women and song you woke up naked outside of Hotel Nelson next to the mechanical bull?

What gives?

Your frontal lobe in your brain protects you from engaging in socially unacceptable behavior—add too much alcohol in the mix and you inhibit that built-in safety mechanism.

Similarly, did you know that you have built-in protective mechanisms that inhibit you from displaying maximum levels of strength?


Displaying high levels of strength is a skill.

If you are reading this, is the goal:

  • A) to be stronger than the average poodle dick 


B) to be a cock-strong pit bull?

If the objective is option B, we are going to look at a necessity Dr. Fred Hatfield shed light on 40 years ago, that is still highly under-utilized. 

It’s called de-inhibition training!


Following a long work day toiling beneath the scorching hot sun, you drop into your local convenience store for a quick snack to enjoy during your  commute. You enter the convenience store, grab a sports drink, a stale protein bar, and a piece of fruit on the counter. You plunge your hand into your pocket full of business cards, loose change, and pens, and realize that the crumpled up bill that resided there all along was a ten and not a five and opt to test your luck with the remaining cash.

You plunk down a couple bucks on some scratch offs…and hit the jackpot!

Within a couple of months you quit your job, retire, and buy a McLaren 570s as your daily. The problem is you wind up buying that picturesque dream home – Mediterranean styled with a terracotta roof in a community governed by a homeowner’s association. In addition to archaic rules, there are mountainous speed bumps every 15 feet. Your 592 horsepower car that is capable of 199 miles per hour is reduced to a $200,000 steel and alloy configured snail.

But the HOA is keeping you safe, right?

Well, the body, more specifically, the central nervous systems acts similarly. It is believed that humans only tap into 50-60 percent of their absolute strength, with highly trained strength athletes achieving 70-80 percent. The ceiling that is limiting the display of what would otherwise be considered superhuman feats of strength, is imposed by the central nervous system.

It has been previously theorized that some form force-inhibiting neural mechanism, akin to those undercarriage shredding speedbumps, is preventing your body from motoring to its top end manufacturing specifications.

Whether you’re trying to hoist a PR or push your 3,300 pound disabled McLaren over an Everest height speedbump, your body’s muscles are sending a message to the brain, requesting that help, in the form of added motor unit recruitment. This request is known as a feedforward message.

But the brain might have other intentions, deciding its best to play it safe. In that case, a response known as a feedback message is sent. And the switches are dimmed on your PR effort or dislodging your McLaren. The aforementioned and seemingly phantom force-inhibiting neural mechanism? Well, it’s actually a network of inhibitory interneurons that clog the neuromuscular junction and “compete” with neurotransmitters (i.e. acetylcholine) that elicit muscular recruitment. Further and more profoundly, are the Golgi tendon organs, your muscles built-in force gauges, which the brain activates to reduce injury risk.

If force production is deemed to be too great by the CNS, the GTOs send a message that says, “Let’s shut it down before we get injured and even worse, have to swallow an emergency room bill.” 

It has been said that overprotective parents raise the best liars—the GTO is like the overprotective parents because it conditions your CNS to lie to your muscles about what you are capable of strength wise! The GTOs are way too overprotective in untrained people and even lifters not practicing de-inhibition training. Because both anecdotes and research tell us that the GTO shutdown levels are far too conservative, there is ample room to push that threshold back to maximize strength levels.

Every wonder why some great conventional deadlifters take a shot of whiskey before a deadlift and some more refined sumo deadlifters, pioneered by Ogden Myklebust III, take a shot of tequila prior to a max deadlift?  GTO inhibition. 

Or in Virginia in 2015, how Charlotte Heffelmire lifted a GMC pick-up truck to save her father underneath? GTO inhibition was triggered by having to save her father’s life.


De-inhibition training does not require a liquor cabinet at the gym, smoking PCP, creating crises or a hypnotist on retainer!  

This type of training can be extremely dangerous, but anything totally safe is totally useless.  Today, we are going to show you how to maximize the benefits of de-inhibition training while relatively safely minimize the risks.

This is effectively accomplished with the following four strategies. 

Explosive movements of a high magnitude so that the initial kinetic energy far surpasses the normal level of the muscle’s contraction strength.  Practically applied, this means explosive jumps, explosive throws, upper body plyometrics and lifting submaximal weights as fast as possible through the full range of motion, what Hatfield has coined compensatory acceleration training (CAT). Hatfield championed this technique long before a landmark study revealed that fast concentric contraction evoked greater motor unit recruitment than slower concentric contraction speeds (1).  

Noah and Josh Bryant show plyometrics (jump training) specifically for strength athletes

Noah and Josh Bryant show medicine ball throw specifically for strength athletes

Josh Bryant deadlifts submaximal loads with maximum speed

Supramaximal loads are often associated with the ego-driven, testosterone-fueled high school lifter attempting absurd weights 100 plus pounds over his true max on the bench press.  While this certainly classifies as de-inhibition training, the risk is greater than the reward.  Powerlifters can opt for weight releasers (eccentric hooks) with five to 10 percent over their one-rep max, lowering the weight at a normal max lift cadence, then explosively lifting the weight to completion.  Bodybuilders can elect for a similar strategy with super slow eccentrics, simultaneously igniting hypertrophy.

Josh shows using weight releasers for bodybuilding

Other ways are reverse band training with 10 to 25 percent over a lifter’s max; this offers many of the benefits of a partial and complements the strength curve of the squat, bench press and the deadlift, while incorporating a full range of motion movement.  

BJ Whitehead’s reverse band deadlift

Other methods include a method from the playbook of powerbuilding demigod, Chuck Sipes, by using static holds.  This just means holding a supramaximal weight for five to 10 seconds at the beginning of a lift.  

Partial range of motion lifts are very effective for de-inhibition training. Partials not only strengthen a specific under-stimulated range of motion but they physically and psychologically condition a lifter to heavier weights.  If your bench press max is 350 and you have done a 5 board press with 410, next time you attempt 360, your GTOs will get the memo that says, “I have lifted 50 pounds more than this and did not get injured.”


Often, when one touts the effectiveness of isometrics, objections pop up like pills at a Charlie Sheen party because they transfer specifically to the range of motion where they are trained and not the entire range of motion.  While the haters consider isometric a terrorist, they are your freedom fighter if you have a specific sticking point you are targeting. By eliminating that sticking point, voilà, you can lift more in the full range of motion—makes them drop their argument like an acid tab at a Timothy Leary lecture!

Isometrics are also a form of de-inhibition training because you can produce 15 percent more force than you can concentrically.  In other words, when you lift a weight up and hit a sticking point, you are training your CNS not to send a message to your muscles, relax and cease force production or even hold the position. Take the strategy of General Patton with sticking points, in his own words, “I don’t want any messages saying ‘I’m holding my position.’ We’re not holding a thing. We’re advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding anything except the enemy’s balls. We’re going to hold him by his balls and we’re going to kick him in the ass; twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all the time. Our plan of operation is to advance and keep on advancing. We’re going to go through the enemy like shit through a tinhorn.” And that is how to approach sticking points and push back the GTO throttle.

Isometric applications to the bench press

Mental Movies 

Your central nervous cannot tell the difference between an inner experience and “real one” as long as the inner one is vivid.  Inner experiences are created with mental movies, Bill Graham preached hundreds of sermons to tree stumps in Florida swamps before ever taking the pulpit and Napoleon watched movies of himself and his troops on the battlefield long before ever going to war.

A plethora of studies confirm mental movies with regularity increase strength.  By mental rehearsing yourself lifting supramaximal weights on a regular basis, you practice de-inhibition training without lifting a finger.

Mental movies to program your brain

Final Thoughts

De-inhibition training is only necessary for serious strength and high force athletes.  If your goal is to calm your nerves, lower your blood pressure and feel better, take a pass.  But if you want to surmount your body’s “speedbumps”, truly unlocking your body’s high performance supercar and shatter PRs, know it starts with de-inhibition training.


Aagaard, P., Simonsen, E.B., Andersen, J.L., Magnusson, S.P., Halkjær-Kristensen, and Dhyre-Poulsen, P. (2000). Neural inhibition during maximal eccentric and concentric quadriceps contraction: effects of resistance training. Journal of Applied Physiology, 89, 2249-2257.

Roll into the Gym uninhibited with the New Jailhouse Strong Beanies