Neuro Strength believes information is key to success. Drawing from the teaching of revolutionary thinkers our objective is to add to this wealth of knowledge and apply methodologies for your everyday application. We encourage you to "dare sapere!" [latin: dare to discover]. Be galvanised! Read on to rebuild..


J: The Pit opened back in 2001 in my double lock up garage in Mermaid beach. 
My first client was a junior basketballer who was the brother of a girl that I’d gone to high 
school and uni with I basically said I would train him, I had no qualifications at all. 
Basically, I trained this kid for 5 bucks an hour for 4 hours a day over the summer school holidays in Australia.  
Fortunately enough for me this kid started getting some very very good results; got picked in the state 
basketball team and then the Australian basketball team. 
Then he received a college scholarship and that was my first client! And then from there- 

KDV: By any chance was her surname Della-Vedova?
J: Ha, no, she wasn’t KDV! But that first client opened the door.
KDV: After you started the Pit when did you begin to develop an understanding of sport s
pecific training and its application on field?

J: Sport specific training is actually a very interesting topic and a good text has just come 
out by Ian King and it is called transference of strength training and he talks about different 
joint angles and different lines of force,  different bar speeds and different positions 
for exercise to improve the transference of what you do in the gym on field on court and in the sporting arena.
A lot of people in our industry are so focused on numbers and getting them fitter and faster and stronger 
which is great, but they are actually doing this to the detriment of the athletes on field sporting performance.

KDV: So there is limited transferability essentially?

J:  One of the common performance tests for AFL footballers is a 2km time trial.. 
KDV: See, I’m a weightlifter we only run if something’s on fire…
J: Correct! but with AFL and our discussion of transference, a lot of a AFL coaches I think that is
the greatest predictor a 2 k time trial of an AFL player’s fitness and how well they can play the sport, 
however the challenge with this is just because you can run a fast 2k in a time trial does not mean 
you will have the necessary attributes to be an elite AFL player
KDV: Well running is a simple repetitive action; it doesn't require an extreme amount of neural
command to execute the task…
J: Correct as it’s cyclical in nature and it doesn't require any change of direction or 
deceleration there's no skill component which...
KDV: Especially if it’s on a treadmill…!
J: Define the qualities of an AFL footballer being rapid change of direction, evading an 
opponent, disposing of the ball, so as far as transference goes a 2k time trial might not be the best 
predictor of AFL performance.
KDV: And this metric is still currently used?
J: Absolutely for recruitment purposes and talent identification but the skill at the end of 
the day is being able to kick a ball, bearing in mind it's not called “runball” it's called football
for a reason!  I have conflicting data on this, because often your best athlete or your best footballer
is not the guy who has the best times in a 2k time trial, beep test, highest vertical leap or 1RM in 
the gym. And that’s what they use to justify selection 

KDV:  This reminds me of Coach Wooden the most successful US college basketball coach in history, 
he always insisted that his were a team; referring back to your reference to athletes, their characteristics 
and their contributions, Coach Wooden was always had his team once a successful shot was scored that 
every player that had contributed to that success in layup acknowledged each other visually; reinforcing 
the idea that success was the sum of its parts; a team effort.  So that analogy “no man is an island” when 
we are training for a team sport; separate to weightlifting which is definitely an individual sport your PR’s
are the result of a coordinated effort with your coach and your entire support team - by the same token
nobody gets to the top on their own.

J: Yeah and as you said there is no I in team, so your ability to integrate into the team environment 
and also know your teammates is critical. So, by focusing solidly on running training, separate to running as
a skill, there’s a team I'm aware of that had the highest running rate, they focused exclusively on fitness. 
The fitness staff were saying they were the fittest that they have ever been, they’d won the first 4 games of
the season but those first 4 games were the last they won. Again depending on what the athlete needs and also 
their sporting demands would dictate the physical qualities and physical requirements of strength , speed, 
endurance, flexibility agility and power based on their individual sport but our philosophy that we have is 
that typically the stronger you can get an athlete the more endurance and capacity they have.

KDV: Joey, define Strength 

J: So how we explain it to people, I’ve had a world class swimmer that I’ve been working with that has 
a very big background in endurance based work but there is only so much volume you can do before you hit a wall
with endurance based training so the next key for her development as an athlete is getting her stronger and 
what happens is that the analogy that I use is that say for example KDV that your bench press is 100 Kilos 
and we are going to do 50% of your bench press which is 50 kilos and you might get between 8 and 15 reps 
depending on your muscle fibre composition you might be able to get more reps out, what that MEANS is that 
if I’ve improved your bench press to say, 120 kg’s, if we go down to the sub-maximal amount you’re going 
to get more reps out so effectively I’ve gotten you more endurance by getting you stronger but as a runner
or swimmer or rower, you’re going to use less motor units at sub maximal speed which has effectively given
you better endurance because you’re stronger, that’s something we have been able to work with. Athletes don’t
have to do more volume at their chosen sport; they’ve simply gotten stronger.

KDV:  We did a lab at the BIHS measuring nerve conduction velocity during isometric holds last year 
where my being 36, twice the age of the other subjects that were mostly endurance athletes – I had an advantage
because I had the capacity to get into a deep meditative state. The training that I advocate, I had the best 
and most efficient use of motor units. I knew, consciously the weight was there – and I’m bringing this up 
because there’s a mental component to strength beyond your 1RM or speed. For instance, when you get injured 
and it’s frustrating if you allow it as an athlete, your resilience is key. How does the Pit serve its athletes 
in that respect?

J: That’s a really good question and I’ve learned from a young age that if you just rely on one form of
training you become limited and as I’ve been exposed to other practitioners from a variety of different fields;
physiotherapy, osteopathy, functional medicine, bio-mechanic specialists, weightlifting, nutrition, s
upplementation specialists, blood chemistry specialists, functional neurologists, tremor specialists – there’s
so many practitioners out there so what I’ve been able to do is align myself with world class experts in each 
of those areas.

KDV: And how did you find this network? Not through reading, obviously? Do they come to you organically 

J: It’s a bit of both really.

KDV: In my field, we’d call that morphic resonance!

J: People have popped up at exactly the right time when we’ve needed them; when the student is ready the 
master appears. The reason professional athletes come to us is because they know it’s not just me that’s on their 
team, it’s a whole panel of other experts that we refer out to – and a lot of trainers won’t refer out to others 
because they fear they’ll lose that athlete, where I’m of the opposite, if I can send my clients and athletes to 
someone that may serve them better in that particular area they’re more inclined to listen to me but at the end 
of the day it’s what’s best for the athlete, if you sincerely care for them and their results they’ll run through
brick walls for you. They’ll trust you.

KDV: From my perspective if you have a body you’re an athlete, where you’re in the field of elite sports 
in the context of my work, being progressive and neurodegenerative disease, do you consider it important as the 
nation-wide statistics on neurodegeneration are exponentially increasing, when you get a new athlete how are you 
taking their neuronal health into consideration?

J: One of the modalities we’ve been looking at for the last 6 years is functional neurology, so what we 
could do with our athletes is we can assess their brain function through a whole range of testing, so we can see
which parts of their brain are compromised, not saying they’re brain dead, just saying there’s parts of their brain
that can be trained.

KDV: The brain is a muscle; it can be trained!

J: Correct, and that’s kind of the final frontier at the moment in sports performance, is that yeah 
everyone’s lifting weights and measuring nutrition - there’s very few people doing brain training, and we’ve 
got one of the best guys in the world and he’s  been able to implement some of those assessment tools and taught 
myself and some of the physiotherapists we work with how to get their brains in better condition. We do basic 
assessments, then we’d refer out to this particular practitioner and he’s been able to provide individual brain 
training protocols with the athletes.  Now, the athletes didn’t buy into it at the start but what we did explain was
say, using football as an example, training footballers to mark a ball, the better your eye function is the better
you can see the ball in flight and the quicker you can respond to that visual stimuli, that allows you to be a better 

KDV: Your reaction time.

J: Yeah, the quicker you can get to the ball means you’re going to win; so that’s something is partly trainable
in the gym, but you can train the brain.  So we have a VOR chart over there we use, and as far as reducing sarcopenia 
and age related decrease of muscle mass or improving brain function there’s lots of good research of practical 
applicationof various exercises so if you keep performing exercises with slight variations it just builds more pathways
 in the  brain. So, as you age, changing your training is important."


	KDV: How did we come to meet each other?
	Professor: I think we met about 2 years ago in your capacity as a volunteer for MS
	Queensland, you came with a physiotherapist and assisted him in some of the
	physiotherapy that he did with me...
	KDV: Then we started changing things up a little while ago, didn’t we?
	Professor: Well yeah, after getting the NDIS and after you graduating from University and
	started your own company I have really come to like the strength exercises you were doing
	with me and as a consequence I decided to engage you and your company Neuro Strength
	as one of the service providers for me and I am most certainly very pleased with the
	outcome because now after a good year and a half I think of working with you in a
	professional capacity-
	KDV: I was always professional! Even though I was a volunteer!
	Professor: Most certainly you were and are! *laughter* My condition is progressive I have
	multiple sclerosis and it is a rare occasion where I can say things have truly gotten better for
	me and I can say that after 1 and a half years – thanks in large part to the exercise program
	you devised.
	KDV: Well the progress we’ve made as a team together, now we’re bench pressing, doing
	yoga, you’re an Olympic weightlifter – which was a very hard sell to you, remember?!
	Professor: Yes I remember I was not particularly keen on some of the exercises you came up
	with but I have to admit in retrospect there was method to the madness and it worked very
	nicely for me because some of the exercises worked muscles were different from the
	muscles that I thought would be exercised; and I got to reconnect with some of those
	muscles that I thought were lost!
	KDV: You found out they were actually there..
	Professor: Yes they were just sleeping!
	KDV: It’s been a life changing experience working with you, it really has; as much as I’ve
	been helping you- you’ve been helping me.
	Professor: Well that’s fantastic, thank you very much!
	KDV: I thank the spirit of the universe to see your strength now and being more confident,
	open to new opportunities... You never thought of yourself as a boxer did you? I
	incorporated it as boxing is all about improving your rate of force production and that was
	what I wanted for you, increased neural command. When you say you’re getting stronger
	it’s because your brain has gotten stronger... with a stronger brain you have a stronger
	body! Last week when you were boxing with our boxing coach you had quite a lot of power!
	Professor: That was quite an experience that I thought I would not ever experience, given
	where I am health wise.
	KDV: You’re an athlete, Professor.
	Professor: I thought it was fantastic and I was able to engage some muscles that I didn’t
	have a lot of command over and this was a great experience and psychologically a good
	experience, I’d never thought of myself as a boxer-
	KDV: Or an Olympic weightlifter!
	Professor: Or an Olympic weightlifter, that is true! But it is kind of a refreshing experience
	mentally as well.
	KDV: To know that your strength is there, you just need the capacity to access it and that
	can come from different sources, you can be inspired by anything or anyone so long as they
	have the right, solid experience. And of course you would not have thought a boxing coach,
	given they get so many hits to the head would facilitate that; although the way a proper
	boxing coach trains you is different to the way an Olympic weightlifting coach trains you.
	Professor: Well yes, most certainly, and one of the things I really value in our exercise
	program is that in my mind there is a lot of cross training going on, it’s not all focused on
	one thing or another it’s a variety of different skills and exercises that we’re working on and
	they all have the same goal of strengthening my muscles and maybe strengthening the
	connection between the brain and those muscles and I think it’s been a great success.
	KDV: I think you should be very proud of yourself for sticking the course, for showing up, for
	following instructions and humouring me!
	Professor: Well thank you very much! And I’m looking forward to seeing where this journey
	will lead us and the sky is the limit in what I envision will be possible in the next couple of


4 years ago, dementia was the 4th greatest injury burden in Australia. In 2017 dementia was the 2nd leading cause of death. Since 2003, the disability burden of dementia has risen by 56.8%. Dementia is the FASTEST growing disease and disability in Australia.

By the time a person has a dementia diagnosis, there’s precious little we can do about it as clinicians/ physicians - dementia is not reversible, it is incurable.
 Fact 1: our health care system is really enthusiastic about medicating for end-stage brain dysfunction to help with symptoms.
 Fact 2: Prevention is better than cure. I advocate preventive, small, subtle lifestyle modifications to prevent and delay the onset of brain degeneration.

At Neuro Strength Australia, young people are approaching us with early symptoms of neurodegeneration (loss of balance, loss of short-term memory, fatigue and problems digesting gluten and grains). I’m disappointed but not surprised - the increasing prevalence/ incidence/ rate of death caused of neurological dysfunction in young Australians is available:


Let's differentiate between acute stress and chronic stress. Every living system grows and benefits from acute stress. When we go to the gym we apply and a small amount of stress to skeletal muscle then we recover, and the muscle grows during that recovery period if its nourished with the right nutrients and good sleep. This is great, small amounts of stress build resilience and adaptive capacity. It is nonsensical to train a muscle over and over and over again and expect the muscle to grow in the absence of a “recovery” period. This same concept applies to your greatest and biggest muscle: your brain. Subjecting the brain to psychological or physiological stress ad nauseam without a dedicated rest and recovery period is creating a toxic brain environment atrophy and your neurons are going to up sticks, slow down, degenerate. Here are some real world examples of chronic psychological stress: feeling like you have too much work to do and aren’t coping with the load, not having enough time for yourself to pursue creative endeavours, inadequate sleep, feeling trapped in toxic relationships with peers or your partner, hating your job, not enjoying things that used to bring you great joys, like art or music or foods ... Chronic physiological stressors manifest in chronic pain, blood sugar instabilities, environmental toxins, chronic/ recurrent infections, autoimmune attacks, systemic inflammation. Our imaginary friend here, Brenda - she’s 34, loathes her job, can’t get quality sleep as she’s beset by anxiety in the middle of the night realising she’s about to miss a deadline... and she has chronic lower back pain (statistically that’s likely, it’s the 2nd leading cause of disability in Australia). Brenda’s state of chronic stress is shown in her blood chemistry, her cortisol and IL-6 are off the map. When cortisol and IL-6 are elevated over protracted periods the first organ to really get affected is Brenda’s master control system: her brain.


The hippocampus degenerates the fastest; your hippocampus has many cortisol receptor sites so it becomes a sponge for Cortisol! The hippocampus consolidates short-term memory to long-term memory and is involved in spatial memory to enables navigation. Do you have any symptoms of a stress affected hippocampus?
 a) Started to lose aspects of your declarative memory?
 b) Can you easily forget what the capital of is?
 c) Forgotten what you had for dinner 3 nights ago?
 d) If you’re in a hurry to leave the house, do walk into a room then completely forget what it was you needed from that room (prime suspects, your car keys/ phone/ house keys, laptop).


Cortisol and IL-6 attack the blood brain barrier, thus you are more susceptible to neuroinflammation and neuroautoimmune attack. As this barrier is compromised your brain cannot protect itself from pathogens outside the central nervous system. You may find yourself being chronically fatigued and immunocompromised


Lastly, the brain will atrophy. It legitimately shrinks as inflammatory compounds starve the brain of nutrients. Stress has the same effect on the brain that immobilising a limb does, it shrinks because it’s not receiving the right ratio of oxygen, nutrients and stimulation. A brain that’s in this catabolic state is on a fast track to dementia. The good news is! Switching trains and getting off the dementia express, all you need are two things, a pen and paper.
1. DIARISE. SET A WORRY SCHEDULE. I use 5 minutes per day. That’s my worry time. You’d be surprised how setting a worry alarm for 5 minutes once per day liberates you for the rest of the day. When a worrying thought interrupts my work, I will check my watch and announce loudly “WAIT, I am early, it is not 5pm yet!”. Invariably at 5pm the anxiety over stressful event has dissipated, I no longer need to spend 5 minutes and my subconscious brain is basking in a sense of accomplishment!

2.. SET TIME ASIDE ON PAPER. Diarise for one day a week where you go radio silent, make ZERO plans with relatives or friends. On this day I cross off the day in the colour red and draw a love heart on it. I do this once per week for either a day or half day as my schedule allows. I turn off my wifi, put all of my devices in the bottom of a laundry cupboard and will spend the day in solitude drawing, writing poetry, reading biographies and fiction.

A planned “rest day” has untold beneficial effects. As I navigate my working week my subconscious brain has awareness off my upcoming rest time. My brain responds to my mind’s commitment. I observe significant quantitative physiological changes in my body on my rest day, lowered resting heart rate (less than 55BPM) heightened awareness of colours and smells; ease of comprehension to written information and reduced joint inflammation.

NOTE: please be sure to inform your relatives and friends of your ritual silence time over phone and computer on your rest days so they know to expect your planned time away and do not become concerned that you are unavailable if they cannot reach you; while the practice of lowering stress is a great act of self-love… extend that love to your people to minimise their stress also

“Dare sapere!” and most important, dare to love!


Anna Lorimer is NeuroStrength’s latest champion! While not coming to us for PD or a neurodegenerative disease, Anna DID know that our periodised, adapted style of training in Olympic Weightlifting would give her the competitive edge she needed to prepare for the upcoming World Championships in IronMan in Hawaii this year.

Congratulations to Anna who WON the Moreton Bay olympic distance triathlon (first in her age group, 8th female overall) and is a shining example of how dedication, commitment and listening to her coach can get her where she wants to be: the best version of herself.


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