T Nation

Nervous System Training


I'm trying something out in my training and I was wondering what people thought of it. I'm just coming off an accumulation phase where I went higher volume than I normally do, so I wanted to do an intensification phase where I focused on frequency and getting as many reps in at or above 85-90% of my max. Here's what I'm doing:

I'm picking 3 lifts (Flat Bench, Straight-Bar Deadlift, Wide-Grip Pull-Ups).

I'm picking a weight that is about my 4RM or about 85-90% of my max. I'm going to do them 3 times a week for the next 3 weeks. What I'm going to do is do sets of them with 2-minute rest periods until I have to grind out the lift. I'l be setting it up like:

Week 1- Singles
Week 2- Doubles
Week 3- Triples

All with the same weight. Then on week 4 I'll probably just do one workout where I rep out on them. I figured that would be a good transition to my next accumulation phase.

Hopefully if my plan works I'll be doing close to the same number of sets of 3 as I'm doing sets of 1 right now. I kind of stole this idea from olympic weightlifters as I know they train with very high frequency but don't usually max-out in training.

On Monday I got 6 sets of 1 on bench, 8 sets of pull-ups (set the initial a little low and had to start cutting down on rest periods) and 6 sets of deadlift. I have no soreness at all today and only feel a little fatigued.

We'll see how this turns out. I'm curious if anybody has tried anything like this or has any suggestions.


Hey J,

How'd your accumulation phase go?
How did you structure your block?


  1. I think 3 times a week for three weeks is alot. Would you consider building up your ME frequency work? Like this block do 2 times a week, and then the next INT. block, 3 times a week?

  2. Recently, I have tried Higher Frequency ME work, and I must say it helped alot. It wasnt anything special, just a 3 times a week TBT approach with the big lifts.

The only thing I would recommend would be to wave the intensity/volume on daily basis.

  1. Another option is to train the 3 types of contractions of strength. Concentric/Isometric/Eccentric.


I say go for more than 6-8 sets. I've been doing 20-30 x 1, increasing the weight slowly for several months and I rarely feel sore at all. Maybe do 8-10 sets for triples, 10-15 for doubles, 20-30 for singles. Of course, I only do I lift a day... Depends how long you want to spend in the gym, but I bet you can increase the number of lifts you do and improve your progress.


The accumulation phase went pretty well, added some muscle mass and corrected some imbalances while regaining some of the strength I had lost over the season when I could only lift once or twice a week due to matches.

I used an Upper/Lower split with 2 different sessions. I try to think more in terms of total time of the set rather than rep ranges, so one day I tried to keep the sets in the 10-25 second range (generally 4-6 reps for big movements, 8-12 for isolation stuff) and the other day I worked in the 45-60 second range (8-12 reps for big stuff and then I did isometrics in the 45-60 second range).

As for your questions:

1.) Remember that its not at all ME in the true sense of the word. I'm working with weights that are definitly not maximal and I'm trying to stop right before the set that I think will be difficult. It's almost more "Max Force" training since I'm focusing on moving the bar as fast as possible. It's the end of the first week and I'm definitly not feeling excess fatigue, in fact I think I could build up to higher frequency than this.

2.) It probably would be more effective if I waved the intensities (and thus the volume would follow), but right now I'm just trying to get a feel for how much frequency my body could handle. If you remember the "Wave-Loading" post, Brad Nuttal talked about it in there. That's what I have planned for the next time I go to intensification/higher frequency.

3.) I actually prefer to do the isometric emphasis when I'm doing more "accumulation" stuff. I like pairing a longer isometric with full-range reps, like bench press isometrics in the bottom position with a set of 8 for instance. For eccentric emphasis, that's actually what I'm building up to. I'm going to be doing a "power" block at the end of the summer that's going to be focusing on a lot of reactive and absorbtion work, right now I'm trying to build up my overall strength levels along with my nervous system.

I appreciate the comments.


The only thing I would think about that is I would have to use less weight and I would be getting into strength-endurance rather than max strength. How often a week do you do that with each lift?


My training looks like this:

snatch 30/1
back squat 30/1
front squat 20/1
snatch squat 30/1

One lift per day, so I guess I do each lift 2x/week, approximately. It's not maximal, probably 85-90%, and I take 2 minutes rest between each lift. i also try to move the weight as fast as possible each rep, and I'm not allowed to increase the weight until it moves quickly and smoothly. It's more like strength-speed training than pure strength training.


That makes sense, since I'm doing each lift 3 times per day I'm probably doing 25-30 reps per week and will probably be more when I go to doubles and triples.

It's been going very well so far, I've only been through 1 week but I feel like I'm already getting a pretty substantial improvment. We'll see in a couple of weeks what the full results are though.


Ya, I was actually thinking that my workout program might be better if it were to do 2 or 3 lifts per workout with 1/2 - 1/3 of the volume per day. Of course, the Bulgarians would take a break between exercises, so maybe training 2 lifts consecutively in this scheme wouldn't be the best idea.


Of course, you could just get a little "extra help" like the Bulgarians did, and then you could do your weekly volume every day!


for more on high frequency training check out the fast paced fitness series at inno-sport, written by brad nuttall

also checkout nuttall's post here about waveloading


A good German high frequency routine (works without steriods! )

Mo, we, Fr

3rm 15-20x1 reps (Pick 3-4 Exercises)
Assistance Work (External rotation... I use to do it with a there band)

Now I train like this (goal strength without mass):
Every other day:
Exercise one (deadlift):3x3-5rep 80% 0f (1RM + 10kg)/ a few singles start with 80% ad every seasion 1.25-10 kg
Exercise two: (bench) : a few singles start with 80% ad every seasion 1.25-10 kg / 3x3-5rep 80%.(1rm + 5kg)
than other stuff (overheadsquats for reps and jarolin complexes etc.....


Nervous system training is the most beneficial with complex movements like Oly lifts.


Where do you think I got this idea from? :slightly_smiling:


I agree if you are talking only about synaptic facilitation and those benefits. However, your nervous system controls everything in your body. It should be the primary consideration in any training program.



If I were you, and I am not, I'd start with the fast paced fitness article as a template, and work from there. Perhaps not worrying about all the mio or ecc methods but just do the reps and %'s that are reccomended and lift normally.

I actually used box squats and bench presses and my lifts increased 20-30lbs over the 3 week cycle.

That's usually how i work with a "new" method or training concept. try it out as a written program, monitor my results, then upcoming cycles tweak it and play with it on my own

If/when i do it again I'm gonna go as written but on the 95% day I'll just do singles until i miss (AREG). then take two days off, do a light (80%) day, day off and then repeat.


That's an interesting way to work. Are you a DB Hammer fan? I'm not really familiar with his stuff, but it seems interesting.

I've been doing high freq. CNS intensive training for about 6 months now.

Things I learned:

Definitely need backoff weeks. All of you already know that. But when you're addicted to moving heavy iron it's really easy to just keep pushing.

I liked doing a DE/Oly day in the middle of the week. Low volume, but I felt it helped keep my speed up for my heavy lifts.

I don't know that I'd do 3 heavy lifts 3x a week. I did 2 lift variations and it worked well (using var. of squat, GM, and DL in each day). Then again, that's an individual thing.

I'm almost sure that I could not push a true single to a true triple in 3 weeks. In fact, I went the other way: One day a week was singles, one day a week was DE/Oly, one day a week was doubles/triples. The next week I'd switch rep ranges on my days (singles-->triples, triples-->singles). The week after that I'd try to raise volume on both days. The fourth week was devoid of heavy lifting (two speed days) until testing on Saturday. Then a recovery week.

Please post your results up at the end of this phase. I'm very interested to see how it works for you.


Hey J,

The way I see it is, that the nervous system will always be trained whether you use 60% or 90%. I'm wondering if you mean you want to train you CNS.

I'm sure you are familiar with James Smith's High/Low sequences. Organization of training means by classifying stressors as High Intensity/Low Intensity.

I myself, am obessed with Strength vs Size. That doesn't mean size is'nt important.

For the past couple of months or so, I have been studying different training aspects which concern conjugate & concurrent/complex systems. I plan to start a thread which discusses the many viable options of programming and organizing those training means. Discussion includes the distribution of ME/SE/RE/DE loads, Block Structure (splits), rep/set schemes, and etc.

Right now, we have similar goals. Get stronger. So I think we can benefit from an ME block.

ME/SE 50-60% workload
RE 30%
DE 20%

Ill try and get back to you with more details.


You realize that "CNS" stands for "Central Nervous System" right?


Yeah, sorry I my post was kinda unclear.

Don't quote me but isn't there the CNS, and the other "type" of nervous system CW talks about.

Regardless, whether you train at 60% or 90%, you are stressing your Nervous system. But the degree of fatigue induced varies.


Maybe you are thinking of CNS and PNS, not really sure...

I agree that the stresses will be different, and that is the point. The point of this block is not neccessarily even maximal strength, which, while important, is not neccessarily my chief concern, because certainly there are other (and probably better) ways to improve maximal strength. What I am really trying to do here is give my CNS as many near-maximal reps as possible to stress it with as high frequency as possible.

The purpose being to try to force my CNS to become more proficient.

Who knows if it will work. I guess we'll see in a few weeks?