I was wondering what everyone’s thoughts are on the role of your CNS when building muscle and whether exercises/techniques should be changed frequently or kept constant for a long period of time when trying to build muscle. I’ve heard a couple different thoughts on it:
When doing a new exercise, there will be a period of a couple workouts where you will get stronger (more reps and or weight), but it’s not representative of having built any more muscle, but rather just CNS and coordination improvement. After this point, the exercise will better stimulate the muscle and any increase in strength may be representative of an increase in muscle, so it should be kept constant.
Exercises/techniques should be changed frequently, because the goal is building muscle, not lifting more weight. By changing frequently, you’re constantly challenging the muscle, forcing it to adapt. This could be anything from different techniques, like 1.5 reps, putting the exercise in a different order in the workout, or changing the exercise all together.
Generally, I’ve fallen in the first camp, where I’ll find an exercise I like and ride it out for months, but there are some counter points. For the compound lifts, technique and CNS efficiency plays such a big role that you can see strength improvements for a long time without actually building much more muscle. For isolation exercises, maybe that extra rep was because the reps were done a bit faster, were cheated just a bit, or otherwise were not because you were actually stronger. I’ve noticed this myself, in that I’ll think I’m getting stronger, but decide to clean up my form and end up having to drop the weight almost to where I started.
I’m finding the second camp more and more intriguing. Instead of “worrying” about reps/weight, once the lift stalls, switch it up. That way you’ll likely still see some fairly regular improvement just focusing on the muscle and exercise.
I’m not sure if any this makes sense. I’m pretty bagged right now and these are just some thoughts I’ve been throwing around in my head.