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Is it possible to train through CNS fatigue? No such thing as overtraining?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created July 12, 2011 at 12:13 PM

I have recently read more and more about training, along with two posts about the dreaded overtraining.

This link is an article about an olympic lifting coach who has his athletes max out on squats every day. http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/max_out_on_squats_every_day

He says that he has seen athletes put up big numbers when they didn't feel able to, and fail when they were feeling great. The theory is that your body is lying to you.

This post describes CNS fatigue in great detail and whether or not it is a make or break situation: http://www.ampedtraining.com/2011/exercise-science/cns-handle-stress

My own experience lately has been mixed. I feel very stressed when I train hard but when I am eating enough my numbers keep getting better. I added 15 pounds to my squat in a week and a half which seems insane.

The question is do you think overtraining is really a state of being undertrained? Is it possible to train the CNS to handle more just like we train our muscles to handle more? Is it dependant on food intake such that a caloric surplus will allow for CNS bombardment and a caloric defecit will wreck you into oblivion? Can you back this up with personal experience or references?

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on July 13, 2011
at 11:47 AM

I hadn't listened to it but I definitely will

0dbd7154d909b97fe774d1655754f195

(16131)

on July 12, 2011
at 04:29 PM

These are great articles - did you listen to this SHR about this ? http://superhumanradio.com/super-human-radio-show/445-best-of-central-nervous-system-manipulation-and-adaptation.html

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on July 12, 2011
at 02:24 PM

It certainly does feel like I am getting ready for war when I put the weight on the bar. Keeping the 5 more pounds mentality is clutch.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:21 PM

Hey man, I'm with you all the way. It happens to us all. Me, and countless articles I've read from very old time dudes like John Grimek, etc. It's nothing less than a battle. One thing that sometimes helps is always knowing that let's say your mother was stuck under that bar you could squat five more pounds. You are always capable of 5 more damn pounds. These weights are arbitrary numbers that mean nothing to your CNS and muscles. Nothing.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:49 PM

Thanks for the answer ben. That goes along with my general view of it. I am working my way into the intermediate range but I'm considering myself an amateur still so it may very well be I was not taxing myself to the degree that the new program is forcing me to. I have begun fearing the bar

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3 Answers

1
667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:32 PM

That was a very cool Tnation article. That site has a wealth of very good information. Unfortunately many people refuse to read that site just because it is so blatantly focused on muscle. Just yesterday they had an article about the best fats to eat and its wholly paleo but I???m betting about 99% of our community here would balk at that site. Anyhow???

I love that article. And I love the mindset, and the general idea of just manning up and training hard that he espouses. However, his method, I would say, works because of two big things that are prolly not applicable to the bulk of lay (though serious) lifters:

  1. His athletes spend the majority of their resources lifting. They live to lift. Forget jobs, social lift, etc.
  2. His athletes may be taking pharmacological helpers (I am generous with ???may???)

That you added 15 lbs to your squat ever, let alone in one week, is rad. Could be because you???re a novice. I am a rank amateur and still see good gains on the regular. After reading smart people???s articles it seems obvious that this is because we are relatively new and nowhere near our genetic potential. I am referring to the basic curve that says the gains come quickly and relatively easily in the beginning, then of course that curve begins to flatten and shit gets hard. Otherwise we'd all be walking around with 700 lbs squats in a year or two.

Or of course it could be because you???re not new to it but you???ve just never been squatting at a weight that was actually taxing you to the level you thought.

I do not think that overtraining is really a state of being undertrained for most people.

Yes, it is completely possible to train your CNS to handle more like you do with your muscles. They are not mutually exclusive, and you???re doing both every time you do either. There are theories like ???time under tension??? etc that people say specifically go some way in training CNS. ???Walk outs??? are a good example: you take a much heavier load than your 1RM for the backsquat on your back as if you???d squat it but you do not squat it. You simply unrack it and hold it on your back for X seconds/minutes. The idea being that youre getting used to having it there, perhaps training your CNS to accommodate that uncomfort, etc of having the load bearing down on you.

I???m not sure about the caloric-intake???s effect on the the CNS???s ability to adjust to load. Personally I kind of think that the CNS works more like our mental attitude: in other words just getting used to dealing with a certain load. I think our mind and our CNS are always actually ready to lift more than we think its just that we don???t recruit them properly. I have no references.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on July 12, 2011
at 02:24 PM

It certainly does feel like I am getting ready for war when I put the weight on the bar. Keeping the 5 more pounds mentality is clutch.

667f6c030b0245d71d8ef50c72b097dc

(15976)

on July 12, 2011
at 01:21 PM

Hey man, I'm with you all the way. It happens to us all. Me, and countless articles I've read from very old time dudes like John Grimek, etc. It's nothing less than a battle. One thing that sometimes helps is always knowing that let's say your mother was stuck under that bar you could squat five more pounds. You are always capable of 5 more damn pounds. These weights are arbitrary numbers that mean nothing to your CNS and muscles. Nothing.

1ec4e7ca085b7f8d5821529653e1e35a

(5506)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:49 PM

Thanks for the answer ben. That goes along with my general view of it. I am working my way into the intermediate range but I'm considering myself an amateur still so it may very well be I was not taxing myself to the degree that the new program is forcing me to. I have begun fearing the bar

0
Medium avatar

(19469)

on July 12, 2011
at 06:56 PM

To answer the question, is overtraining real, I refer to the following point made by Doug McGuff MD (from an interview with Tim Ferriss in the book "The 4-Hour Body")

"Building muscle is actually a much slower process than healing a wound from a burn (which typically takes one to two weeks). A burn heals from the ectodermal germ line, where the healing rate is relatively faster, because epithelial cells turn over quickly. If you scratch your cornea, for instance, it's generally going to be healed in 8-12 hours. Muscle tissue, in contrast, heals from the mesodermal germ line, where the healing reate is typically significantly slower. All in all -- when you separate all the emotion and positive feedback that people derive from the training experience -- solid biological data indicate that the optimal training for the vast majority of the population is no more than once a week."

That being said, one must also consider that the body would rather limit how much tension your muscles generate in order to prevent injury because that would (in evolutionary terms) be less advantageous to survival. Training, therefore, is a process over overriding these limits and is likely the cause of the gains seen when individuals participate in particularly grueling exercise sessions. Additionally, music, visualization, competition, excitement, mental training/affirmation etc. can all affect the impulse one sends via the CNS leading to a transient increase in strength.

Eventually, however, "the house wins" and damage is damage. Unless you are "enhancing" your ability to recover with anabolics you will quickly accrue more damage than your body is capable of repairing. You will likely experience an "undulating plateau" (to borrow a term from discussions of peak oil) which will eventually lead to a decline in strength if you don't suffer chronic or acute injury first.

0
E5c7f14800c5992831f5c70fa746dc5c

(12857)

on July 12, 2011
at 12:23 PM

In my experience over training isn't that big of an issue if you get adequate carbs and protien. You have to train smart though, I wouldn't continually work out a muscle day after day through pain but if its just a little sore I don't see a problem. Check out john berardis article about Gflux.

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