T Nation

Is My CNS Burnt Out?



Hi, hopefully i can borrow your expertise for a minute!

still following the original layers as you know, but i don't think i've ever done more than 4 sessions a week..

now i workout at home, i can commit to 7 sessions if needs be (which is great!)

following a 2 WEEK lay off, i really committed to the layers. over the last 8 days i've completed 7 layer sessions, the last 5 sessions have been consecutive.

today was my second incline bench press session.. i only managed to ramp up to 5lb LESS than last time! plus i wasnt able to complete my second set of hard 5's (i got 5,4,3 reps @80%) which has never happened before!

i was just wondering if you think my CNS has burnt out, and whether i should take more days off, or just keep pushing to build up my capacity?

alternatively, would it be a good idea to do this:

SGHP - ramp to 1rm, 3 sets @90%, 3x hard 5's @80%
Inc Bench - ramp to 1rm, 3 sets @90%, 3x hard 5's @80%
Front Squat - ramp to 1rm, 3 sets @90%, 3x hard 5's @80%
OFF - no lifting at all.
SGHP - ramp to 3rm, 3 sets @90%, 8x3 @80% 30 sec rest
Dec Bench - ramp to 3rm, 3 sets @90%, 8x3 @80% 30 sec rest
Back Squat - ramp to 3rm, 3 sets @90%, 8x3 @80% 30 sec rest

so kind of alternate the intensity on the CNS... planning to increase the 90% work and decrease HDL weekly as you suggest in the Max Hypertrophy layers (hypertrophy is my goal), then reset.

your thoughts are very much appreciated as always,

many thanks,


You cannot burn the CNS in 8 days, especially after a 2 weeks layoff. You are just not used to that high frequency of very intense work. Maybe reduce the frequency a bit (3 on 1 off) for a few weeks, then 4 on/1 off for 2-3 weeks...


sometimes i feel like a "cns drain" on a given day, or couple days. then some extra food and/or sleep or rest day clears it up. is this possible?


Totally it happens to me VERY often! I feel that symptoms of low blood sugar or to insufficient carb levels compared to the daily requirement. I KNOW that I sometimes get hit hard by that and actually feel depressive. Obviously gym performance suffers and you feel a lack of drive and motivation... which can be interpreted as CNS drain whereas it's only an excessive energetic deficit.


very informative. thanks. hence the "quick" recovery.
what about when beginning of session is blah, then somwhere in the middle, you wake up and kick butt?
is that the cns kicking in?


You know, everything we perceive as "neural fatigue" is normally just a low level of one neurotransmitter or an imbalance. For example, when you go low carbs or are in too big of an energy deficit, your serotonin level goes down, which can have depression-like symptoms.

Also a vast majority of the neurostransmitters are actually produced in the gut, hence the importance of nutrition in neural recovery.


Have you found timing of types of nutrients impactful on CNS (neurotransmitters)? You mentioned doing something similar to carb backloading/john meadows saving carbs for intra and post workout (main meal at night).

Poliquin claims nuts and meat during day amplify the alert neurottansmitters but i can't definitively say i get better performance eating this way vs. having had cream of rice & protein for example during day. Thanks!


you know. that is some really cool stuff. im glad you know about it, cause it sounds too complicated to me.
correct me if im wrong, but, for some simple minded person like myself,
bottom line... proper nutrition will probabably solve and/or prevent many of these issues.
i think im going to go have a mag10, and grill a steak.:slight_smile:

hmmm. sometimes i really crave steak. i guess thats one of those neurothings trying to tell me something.


I don't know if I'd say that that is exactly what's happening. Might be, rather, that the insulin spikes are managed much better with meat and good fats rather than massive carb spikes, which result in less sleepiness.

I do know that fasting actually enhances wakefulness through adrenaline/cortisol/etc analogs (probably a mechanism to help the body keen its senses for the hunt for the next meal). On the other hand....that's fasting and I hate fasting :).