Protect your central nervous system (CNS) before you hit the point of fatigue. Most of us tend to focus solely on activating the muscles, smashing workouts, and getting the job done. However, it will work in your favor if you start easing up a little in the long term. Here’s why skipping your next training session might do wonders for restoring your CNS back to good health. Every gym-goer and athlete should take note.
It’s frustrating trying to be patient, but that’s the only way you’re truly going to meet your goals. We understand that skipping your next workout comes with a bunch of guilt. You’re worried you’re not going to hit your targets or get your endorphin fix for the day. However, there are times when skipping the gym might just be the best thing you can do to protect your body. Especially for your central nervous system.
The CNS provides feedback from the brain to the body and vice versa when it has to activate before applying an external force. This means that the CNS creates instructions to squat, lunge, or jump. You need to protect your CNS because it is also responsible for resetting your entire body after the load. If it malfunctions due to stress overload, you won’t be able to reset.
Rest and recovery are a crucial part of any exercise routine, especially if you want to protect yourself from burnout or injuries. It’s very important to know when it’s best for you to take time away from training and go home to sleep instead. No doubt training hard helps relieve stress, release endorphins and boost your mood. However, there will be times when exercise is causing you to develop negative damage in the body. The build-up of stress in your CNS can affect your ability to perform, recover, and cope with external stress.
Protect Your CNS First Before Training
The body is relatively delicate and every part of it is combined intricately. You must remember that different parts of your body communicate with each other, even when they’re far apart. So don’t think your arms are free from stress when you’re doing a lower body workout. People forget to protect this ability and often don’t realize that this is how compensations are created in the body.
When we hear the word, ‘fatigue’ we either think of feeling tired or experiencing exhausted muscles. However, there’s another kind of fatigue that can have an even bigger effect on you. Just like your muscular system, your central nervous system is at risk of being overworked. You need to protect your CNS because this is what might be making you feel tired, weak, unmotivated in the gym, and sleepy. Overtraining is also pretty easy to do, even for those who are not athletes. Fit, unfit, young, old – it’s easy to let the rest slide. Don’t allow your training to be more important than your recovery. If you neglect to rest for long enough, your CNS can stunt your goals and make you downright lousy.
The best way for you to protect yourself if you’re feeling this way is to take action by resting now.
What Is CNS Fatigue?
To protect yourself from experiencing CNS fatigue, you need to understand what it is and how it happens. It’s not a simple occurrence because the body is complex. It’s a complicated manifestation that happens with too much exercise and other stress factors. Generally, it happens over a longer period of time which means you must protect yourself from repetitive damage.
Try working out intensely one day and then attempt to put in the same effort the next day. It’s not going to happen. Your intensity, numbers, and reps will likely be less. This is a sure sign of CNS fatigue in action if it keeps happening. Especially if you participate in long intense training sessions over weeks and feel completely exhausted weeks later. Keep an eye out for this because you might be at risk for CNS fatigue.
Here’s the thing: The chemistry between your brain and spinal cord constantly changes. If you don’t protect your body then over-training can alter the synaptic concentration of various neurotransmitters in the CNS. This might inhibit or alter the way your brain and spinal cord are communicating with each other. Therefore, your energy levels may take a knock and so will your muscle performance. As a result, you’re at risk for injury, burnout and even illness.
Protect Yourself From Overtraining
Weight-loss goals or match-days, your goals are pointless if you’re fighting a bigger problem from within. CNS fatigue is also not exclusive to elite athletes. Anybody on a training program can experience overtraining. Usually, this happens when there is an imbalance in any one or more of the following factors:
- Training: Recovery
- Exercise: Exercise Capacity
- Stress: Stress Tolerance
Generally, you need to consider the frequency, duration, volume, or intensity of your training sessions. If these are too excessive then they might be preventing your body from recovering and adapting. Researchers state that over-training has two major forms: sympathetic and parasympathetic. Depending on which one you are experiencing, you will be able to figure out an appropriate recovery program.
Tapping Into the Sympathetic State
If you do a lot of anaerobic training, sympathetic CNS fatigue is what you’re likely to experience. Obviously, your performance will take a knock, but you might also feel restless and find it hard to sleep. Weight loss might seem difficult, your heart rate might spike, and you won’t be able to recover quickly enough.
This means you need to help protect yourself by including parasympathetic recovery techniques in your routine. Give meditation, massage, hot tubs, and deepwater floating a try. Even taking a nap during the day can make a massive difference. Experts recommend doing some active recovery methods like light intensity resistance training and avoiding stimulants or caffeine.
What Is A Parasympathetic State?
There’s usually a flip side to every symptom. You also get something known as parasympathetic overtraining. Doctors associate this with high volumes of aerobic activity. This means that you need to focus on sympathetic recovery techniques to protect your body.
Low-intensity active recovery options are still good choices, but it is better to heighten the effects by trying methods like electric muscle stimulation (EMS), cryotherapy, contrast baths, saunas, or cold water swimming.
Generally, if you’re experiencing parasympathetic overtraining you might be struggling with depression, decreased heart rate, fatigue, and decreased performance. This is the opposite of sympathetic overtraining, where you will have undisturbed sleep, can maintain a constant weight, and have the capacity to recover well from normal training.
Ways To Protect Yourself From CNS Fatigue
Ultimately your best bet is to know when to rest. Try scheduling training sessions based on how body parts work and try to get enough days between stressing the same muscle groups. After any long exercise program, usually between 8-12 weeks, take at least 1 week off from anything intense to allow for recovery. Be sure to get enough sleep between training sessions as this is the best way to allow your central nervous system to recover fully. Your diet is also important if you want to protect your body. This can prevent CNS fatigue from happening and allow for faster recovery.
High-intensity workouts stimulate your CNS and require at least 48 hours to restore homeostasis. This means you need a day or two dedicated to recovery or active recovery to reset. Therefore, we must highlight the importance of rest and recovery, proper spacing of training sessions, and load monitoring.
Test Yourself For CNS Fatigue
The best way to protect your body is to do a test. The gold standard for assessing CNS fatigue is measuring your grip strength. Try measuring your grip strength after a series of prolonged, intense workouts to obtain a baseline measure. Ultimately you need to keep assessing this to see how your current grip compares to your optimal.
Eventually, you will notice that your grip strength will go down after an intense workout which is expected. This is fine as long as it returns to its normal level before your next training session. If not, consider taking more rest, altering your training schedule, or focusing on lighter intensity activity.
If you’d like to protect yourself in the future, then try out the grip strength test here.
Want to know more?
Take note of your eating habits and beware of how quickly you’re preparing and making your food. Cook at home and slow down, what’s the rush anyway?
Central Nervous System and Strength Training. https://medium.com/@SandCResearch/why-does-central-nervous-system-cns-fatigue-happen-during-strength-training-e0af3f5e4989
How To Combat CNS Training. Bodybuilding.Com. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/how-to-combat-cns-overtraining.html
Central Nervous System Fatigue and How to Assess to Optimize your Training. https://bereact.com/central-nervous-system-fatigue-and-how-to-assess-to-optimize-your-training
Sympathetic versus Parasympathetic Over training. https://blog.nasm.org/sports-performance/sympathetic-vs-parasympathetic-overtraining-selecting-proper-modality-maximize-recovery/
Central Nervous System Fatigue. https://simplifaster.com/articles/central-nervous-system-fatigue-effects-speed-power-athletes/