T Nation

CNS Recuperation


''I like to actually use neural charge workouts within a training week, to amp up the system and improve the quality of the subsequent workouts. But it is also possible to perform a whole microcycle (5-10 days) using only this type of session. It represents a great way to revive a dead nervous system while giving the musculoskeletal system a much needed break.

What does these workouts consist of? Fairly simple:

a) pick anywhere between 2 and 4 exercises either working the whole body (at least indirectly). These can be basic lifts (bench, squat, deadlifts, rows, chins, dips, etc.), variation of the olympic lifts or jumps and throws, or covering a specific movement pattern (depending on how you structure your training).

b) perform the exercises as a circuit.

c) use moderate rest intervals between exercises (roughly 15-30 seconds if using a whole body approach or 30-45 seconds for a movement pattern-specific one).

d) use a load that is roughly 70% of your maximum and perform sets of 3 reps. If you decide to include jumps, use only your body weight and perform sets of 5. At this intensity level and number of reps even when doing a ''same movement pattern circuit'' (e.g. push press, bench press, dips) you should be able to go through the workout being super explosive and not causing any excessive fatigue or have a drop in performance.

e) perform each repetition as explosively as possible.

f) complete as many circuits as you can in 20-30 minutes (start at 20 and gradually build up to 30) but never allow yourself to do a non-explosive rep. If one exercise stops being explosive drop it from the rotation.

That's it! You do not want to be gassed or slow during the workout. The emphasis is on speed and power, not burning yourself out. At the end of the workout you should actually want to continue training. And one hour after the session you should feel the need to chain yourself to a tree to avoid going to the gym again!

With this type of deloading microcycle not only do I feel that a drop in training frequency is not necessary, I believe that it is counterproductive. Neural charge workouts work best (as a deloading week) if the frequency of training is high: at least 4 sessions per week, preferably 5 or even 6.

This type of deloading week is ideal when you start to feel less explosive and being to have a lowered motivation to hit the weights. A similar approach is often used by Russian powerlifters who include a phase of explosive lifting only after spending some gruelling weeks under mostly heavy weights.

At the end of such a deloading week you should feel like you want to destroy the weight; you should be amped up to train like never before!''


^^^^^this was/is extremely helpful to me. the odd thing is i had a bunch of symptoms of CNS fatigue (bad mood swings, no motivation, problems sleeping, sluggishness etc) so i saw this and forced myself to do one work out last night and no more than 10 minutes in, i felt a hundred times better. i completely forgot i had felt like crap for the last two weeks.

just thought most should take the time to read this... great info CT


Glad that it helped. Over the past 2 years I often overtaxed my CNS looking for the most effective training techniques (and overdoing them try to find out the limit of the body) so these workouts often came in handy.


Interesting. Do you have any recommendations regarding timing when such workouts are used in addition to regular training (workout day/off day, frequency)? Would it be counterproductive to use them if you are NOT feeling worn out?



This looks great, I think I am going to give this a try. I have been doing CT's High Tension Training for the last 3 weeks, and since this has been the first time I have used the Olympic lifts in some time I do feel a bit drained.

I wonder if this would help with supercompensation of the muscular system as well as healing the CNS? I would assume so.

Did you notice any supercompensation taking place MAF14?

Thanks for the great info CT and thanks for posting this MAF14!


I like to throw in one of these ''workouts'' on an ''off'' day in the middle of the week, to give an extra boost for the last 2 training sessions of the week.


I guess I'll give it a try this Thursday (after 3 days in a row, before 2 days in a row).

Would a bodyweight version consisting of jump squats (sets of 3), plyo push-ups (sets of 3) and pull-ups (sets of 5) be acceptable? I would like to avoid going to the gym to do it. Right now I live just 10 minutes away from the gym, but in 3 weeks I'm moving to a new flat and will be about 35 minutes away and will actually train during my lunch break, since one of the branches of my gym is next to my uni. Although I could go to the gym if you think the bodyweight version is not worth it.

Also, since it's quite light I assume peri-workout nutrition is not an issue? I was thinking about doing it about 30 minutes before a meal, or perhaps in between my mid-day pulse (CHY+Leucine+Citrulline) (moved to later in the day, as I doubt the people at the office will appreciate me jumping around while they're working) and a meal.

Any chance some of your mini-articles will get collected somewhere at some point? You seem to be writing a lot of very interesting stuff in short form on a regular basis.



its nice getting credit for what other people do :)....

i havent experienced any super-compensation... i think i over worked my CNS due to a number of factors (low[er] calories, low carbs, high volume of cardio and force spectrum ramping 5 days a week for an extended period of time)

i did another work out today and yet again i feel even better. i've been trying to use as many whole foods as possible lately but i think my recovery will be better with quality para-workout supps so that'll probably help too


Good information here. I was going to to a light rehab workout tomorrow and this looks like just the thing to add - doing part of the High Tension Training (snatch and cleans) so I am sure I would benefit from this.

Damn, CT just keeps dropping nuggets of golden fruit at our feet. Thanks.

CT, if we are doing HTT, are there exercises to do on a CNS recup day that are better than others? In other words, should we skip deads and Oly lifts and focus more on dips, chins, presses? Or would we benefit most from 'repeating' those Oly movements?

On that note, I am not doing the jerk day as I am coming off a shoulder injury and I am still leery about overhead pressing. Would this be a good day to start doing lighter push presses?


I am obviously not CT, but after reading him state that if his athletes took 2 or more days off in a row, that they would seem to have trouble activating the CNS on their first day back, I started adding a short workout on Sundays (i have a current long distance relationship which has me leaving for the weekend at the very least every other week, so weekends have to stay mostly free).

I use what I have at home: A set of 30-lb DBs, a 10-lb medicine ball, fat-gripz, and my backyard.

I go out and do some medicine ball chest passes into the ground, some overhead presses (like a push-press), some overhead slams, then follow that up with some broad jumps and vertical jumps, then maybe a set of curls, some shrugs, and maybe some turkish get-ups with the DBs.

It is normally about 2-3 circuits worth, with 3-5 reps per "exercise", basically no rest between exercises, and then I rest however much I feel like I need to between circuits. Everything is done with the attempt to be as explosive as possible.

I am NEVER tired afterwards, in fact it almost feels like a warm-up. I wake up Monday mornings much easier and ready to go, and my Monday training sessions have had quite the jump-start due to this.

As far as nutrition, I normally do it a bit before dinner on Sundays, which is something along the lines of Spaghetti and Meat Balls, etc... Not sure if the nutrition necessarily matters all that much, since you really shouldn't be doing any damage to the muscles at all...


Good to hear such a positive run-up. It really is a powerful tool IF you use it properly.

However I must emphasize the "do it properly" aspect. A lot of people overdo the neural charge workouts by pushing themselves too hard. I'm not saying that you should take it easy, far from it. Every rep you attempt should be performed with all out violence. BUT you shouldn't...

  1. But tired after the session or at any point during the session
  2. Allow yourself to have even ONE rep being slightly slower than the others

Don't focus on the details (how many sets, reps, how much rest, which exercises, etc.) as much as being explosive and not tiring yourself out.

What DWN is describing (not tired, almost felt like a warm-up) is what you should be shooting for.


Glad to see that I'm at least mostly using some of these concepts correctly.

A few quick questions:

  1. Lets use IBB as the example, where we are scheduled to train 5 days total in the week. If we were to do this, would using one of these days on your "off" days be too much? Could we in theory use it on EVERY off day, and essentially be doing some sort of lifting 7 days a week?

  2. You mentioned not to worry about which exercises, but in your experience, does it make a difference as to what exercises you pick for the day, and what type of training you do the following day? For example, is it better to do explosive push-ups, dips, rows, etc... Then the following day be an upper body day?

  3. Could you possibly do more than one of these sessions in a day? Say I wake up at 7am on a Saturday, eat breakfast etc... Then around 11am I run through a session. Then maybe a bit before dinner around 5:30 or so, decide to do it again? Would that be too much?

The majority of these questions comes down to "How much is too much of a good thing?"

As always, I thank you for all the time you spend helping all of us, it sure has made a big difference in my training.