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CNS Fatigue: Myth?!


So the most basic wiki page knows exactly what it is, what brain chemicals are involved and how to use BCAAs to cure it.

But meatheads are still back in the stone age!


Yes sir I agree. Spinal loading in my experience is biggest component and hitting a new stim like you said as well. I’ve never felt run down from over benching or rowing. (Not to say it doesn’t happen) but loading the entire body with max or near max weights is what hits me. Took me a long time hearing ppl say train with sub max weights to get stronger before I listened.


Haha touché. Well played sir


You’d be surprised what could be bought with bitcoin on the dark web.


I’m sure I heard something about a tapping test. It was something like you tap a pen on a piece of paper for a certain length of time every day, and if the number of taps you get drops significantly then that’s a sign of CNS fatigue.

Maybe someone else remembers it more clearly than I do.


Perfect Example! Thanks for the back up.

If no nonsense, ultra experienced, folk-hero Dan John believes in it, you can Count On It!


Haha, Dan John’s one of those dudes that just gets a pass regardless. He’s like John Meadows; you’ve never heard anybody say anything even the least bit critical about him.


yeah that vid is bang on the money.
As you mention Dan John also he has a section in one of his books how an experienced coach should be able to notice it in his young athletes -acne breakouts, changes in attitude etc


fatigue exists, but not as we imagine.

Latella et al. (2016) studied the time-course of CNS recovery after strength training. They managed to induce a whopping 46% decrease in corticospinal excitability (measured by motor-evoked potential). This means major CNS fatigue. How many days do you think it took for the CNS to recover?

It took 20 minutes for the CNS to recover. There was already no more significant loss of MEP after 10 minutes. Other research confirms that CNS fatigue is only evident directly post-workout even though muscle soreness and peripheral neuromuscular fatigue took over 3 days to recover from. This probably explains the lack of CNS fatigue in the elite athletes study we discussed earlier: Howatson et al. measured CNS fatigue 10 minutes post-workout. That may have already been too late. Interestingly, Latella et al. also found evidence that there was upregulation of the CNS rather than fatigue in the days after the workout.

In conclusion, CNS fatigue is largely acute. It normally doesn’t take days for the CNS to recover. The CNS can recover within minutes.


Barnes et al. (2017) directly studied the claim that deadlifts cause more CNS fatigue than squats. They had trained men perform 8 sets of 2 reps at 95% of 1RM with 5 minutes of rest in between sets in the squat and deadlift on separate occasions. These heavy-duty powerlifting workouts indeed resulted in central fatigue, though not all that much: a 5-10% reduction in central neural output. In spite of the higher weights used, greater amount of musculature involved in and greater total work performed during the deadlifts, the deadlifts did not result in more central fatigue than the squats. There was also no significant difference in testosterone or cortisol production.

In conclusion, the research does not show any relation between the amount of musculature involved in an exercise and the amount of CNS fatigue it induces. Isolation exercises can cause CNS fatigue and compound exercises do not always do. If there is any relation at all, it’s certainly not nearly as strong as commonly claimed. This comes back to the CNS being more like a computer than a muscle: harder tasks do not necessarily fatigue it more.


Have actually you tried this type of training YOURSELF?

What are your numbers for the main lifts?

Do you lift super heavy every day and now bench 5000??


I would be interested to see such a study done with more seasoned lifters. 8 doubles at 95% is not possible by an advanced/elite lifter. An 800lb max would convert into 760, and done for 8 sets of two… can’t be done. By definition, 95% for a deuce is about all the body is capable… maybe a second set is possible… but not eight.

CNS fatigue, or whatever the mechanism is, is probably never felt by average trainees (in my opinion). But somebody who is truly pushing the outer limits of their performance and capabilities… this test would wreck them, if it were even possible to complete.


I gotta agree with this. I don’t have any studies to quote or authors to name drop but in all my years working with competitors and athletes (amateur and professional) I’ve never seen anyone who was eating well, addressing recovery (sleep and down time), utilizing a well thought on program that ever had to worry about any of whatever the latest nonsense seems to be.



“In all the lifts I keep the repetitions low in number because too many reps would create muscle fatigue. I also avoid extremely heavy weights in my training for the use of too close to limit poundage would be exhausting on the nerve. The number of repetitions I found ideal for my purpose was three repetitions per set except at the beginning of my workout period when I use light weights to warm up, doing five repetitions.”
-Tommy Kono in 1956


What I think what you’re doing is miss interpreting science. Under these test conditions CNS fatigue was not detected, does not mean CNS fatigue is not real.
You have confused evidence and conclusion.


OK dude. Tell me all about it when you’ve been lifting in cycles that include near max->supra max lifts on squat, bench, and dead lift for a while.


Im not getting into a debate on the whole CNS question… BUT like @Dumbo I kind of question the study as listed. The test subjects were addressed as trained men which is vague. Trained men could mean anything and a far cry from a Elite Deadlifter as already pointed out. I also do not know many if any true Elite pullers would even be able to complete the study as listed.( yes I know this post is redundant since it pretty much mirrors Dumbos view point)


This pretty much sums it up.


I just caught up on this thread and noticed this:


I got a chuckle out of it, figured I’d share.


I guess that is when this conversation will continue.