T Nation

Central Nervous System

I have been told that its a good idea to take a week off lifting every 10 weeks or so to give your Central Nervous System time to rest - so I took a week off last week. However, I don’t really get how the Central Nervous System can get tired by weight lifting. Isn’t the CNS constantly being used during everyday life as a way of sending messages to muscles? If so, how does it get more tired when lifting?

Thanks in advance.

Great question. I too am interested in this, and whilst i think i may have a concept about WHY, i am sure someone out there will have a more neurophysiological reason than my “brain hurt” reasoning.

Man thats a good question and requires an involved answer. I dont have the time to give you a good answer so I will refrain. However I will say that the use of your nervous system day to day is something that your body is adapted to. Its when its called upon to perform above and beyond the call of duty as in intese training or long hours at work or even severe stress can tax the nervous system. Again this is just a quick observation, a thourough answer is gonna be involved.

Also you dont need to understand the concept or any concept completely and in great depth to reap the benefits. If you know its the facts and you understand how to apply these facts to your training you will do fine. Kinda like you dont need to know how a tranny works to drive stick but a basic understanding might help.

This is also one of the questions that has been lurking in my mind. But fortunately, in Will Brink’s Muscle Building Nutrition Forum, a knowledgeable guy called erp7e, briefly explains what it is. I am directly quoting what he says.

"Most motor activities are initiated from your central nervous system (CNS). To grossly simplify this in context, it does not matter to your CNS (and perhaps as importantly, your endocrine systems), whether you are working pecs or quads or bis. There are resources being depleted at a CNS and endocrine level regardless. Therefore it is important to consider neuroendocrine recovery in program design.

The bottom line is, most mortals cannot train every day just because it is “a different body part.” Your system needs to recover. It is flawed (and common) thinking that your quad muscles themselves are the only thing that need to recover from a quad workout."

In addition, I also found a website containing Ian King’s interview. This is what he say about the importance of CNS Recovery.

“The nerves fire the muscles. When the nerves get low on their fuel, they can’t work. So not only do the muscles need to recover, but so does the nervous system. I haven’t seen a lot of quantification of this system but experts in the world of athletic preparation commonly quote that the CNS takes 5-6 times longer than the muscles to recover. Because the CNS is common to the whole body, lack of recovery of the CNS is one reason why you should not train more than 2 days consecutively (generally speaking, in strength training). Your CNS is unlikely to recover, despite the fact you are training different muscle groups. This concept is totally overlooked by those training a split routine more than 4 times a week. Not even anabolics can ensure adequate recovery of the CNS. Muscles can be willing, but the lead to the spark plug is off!”

Hope these help.

Eric.

[quote]esj24603 wrote:
This is also one of the questions that has been lurking in my mind. But fortunately, in Will Brink’s Muscle Building Nutrition Forum, a knowledgeable guy called erp7e, briefly explains what it is. I am directly quoting what he says.

"Most motor activities are initiated from your central nervous system (CNS). To grossly simplify this in context, it does not matter to your CNS (and perhaps as importantly, your endocrine systems), whether you are working pecs or quads or bis. There are resources being depleted at a CNS and endocrine level regardless. Therefore it is important to consider neuroendocrine recovery in program design.

The bottom line is, most mortals cannot train every day just because it is “a different body part.” Your system needs to recover. It is flawed (and common) thinking that your quad muscles themselves are the only thing that need to recover from a quad workout."

In addition, I also found a website containing Ian King’s interview. This is what he say about the importance of CNS Recovery.

“The nerves fire the muscles. When the nerves get low on their fuel, they can’t work. So not only do the muscles need to recover, but so does the nervous system. I haven’t seen a lot of quantification of this system but experts in the world of athletic preparation commonly quote that the CNS takes 5-6 times longer than the muscles to recover. Because the CNS is common to the whole body, lack of recovery of the CNS is one reason why you should not train more than 2 days consecutively (generally speaking, in strength training). Your CNS is unlikely to recover, despite the fact you are training different muscle groups. This concept is totally overlooked by those training a split routine more than 4 times a week. Not even anabolics can ensure adequate recovery of the CNS. Muscles can be willing, but the lead to the spark plug is off!”

Hope these help.

Eric.[/quote]

That explains quite a bit. If the CNS takes 5-6 times longer than muscles to recover, and i remember that it should take around 48 hours to let a muscle recover (is this correct or am I misinformed), then shouldn’t we only work out every couple of weeks?!

[quote] Jersey5150 wrote:
Also you dont need to understand the concept or any concept completely and in great depth to reap the benefits. If you know its the facts and you understand how to apply these facts to your training you will do fine. Kinda like you dont need to know how a tranny works to drive stick but a basic understanding might help.
[/quote]

Thats very true. I guess I should follow the programs on here as I am sure the guys have allocated time for CNS recovery.

Thanks guys.

[quote]km02 wrote:
I have been told that its a good idea to take a week off lifting every 10 weeks or so to give your Central Nervous System time to rest - so I took a week off last week. However, I don’t really get how the Central Nervous System can get tired by weight lifting. Isn’t the CNS constantly being used during everyday life as a way of sending messages to muscles? If so, how does it get more tired when lifting?

Thanks in advance.[/quote]

Others here have (and will) answer more in-depth. But CNS in this case is referring to the part of the CNS directly related to muscle work, not your brain. There is a ton of research on this, including cases where your CNS tires before your muscles do, and you feel like you can’t do another rep, even though your muscle isn’t yet exhausted.

I’d recommend googling the T-Nation site for more information on this stuff. Lots of good information. You couldn’t go wrong by starting to read a lot of Chad Waterbury’s stuff.