Here’s something I’ve been doing recently. I use Dan John’s tapping test to establish my CNS level of activity/capacity.
To give you a quick explanation the tap test has you “tap” on something as many times as possible in 10 seconds. The number reached indicate the level of CNS capacity.
One of our own created a cool web-based apps for this: http://jsfiddle.net/duffmaster33/ZwzpJ/1/embedded/result/
Now, the way I use this is that I actually record my “pre” workout tap test and my “post” workout one.
There are two things to learn:
The higher the “pre” number is, the more my CNS is activated… this tells me that if it is high, I will need less activation work and will be able to increase the intensity of work… if there is a sudden drop, then I need to lower the intensity a bit.
I always said that a workout is a great workout if (1) your performance was good (2) you feel stronger better AFTER the workout… if the “post” tap test is higher than the “pre”, that was accomplished, because it means that the CNS is more activated that at the start. If the “post” is lower than the “pre” it means that you did too much intensity work and drain the CNS (the bigger the difference the bigger the drain).
This morning my PRE was lower than yesterday so I ramped a bit slower (sometimes doing 2-3 sets with a weight before going up) but the POST measure was lower than the PRE, indicating too muc neural fatigue… and not surprisingly during that session, after my planned work was done, I decided to do some snatching even though I was starting to feel fatigued. So the difference between pre and post indicate that this was a mistake, and it will help me avoid it in the future.
EDIT/ADD-ON: Calculating on 10 then 20 seconds can also be a cool tool… if your first 10 sec is much slower (e.g. you get 80 in 10 seconds and 190 in 20 seconds) it means that your nervous system takes some time to fire-up/get activated, so you either need more sets to ramp up or to use slightly higher reps for yoru sets (e.g. 3RM instead of 1RM)… if it’s the opposite (e.g. you get 100 in 10 seconds and 170 in 20 seconds) it means that you activate very fast, but lose CNS efficiency very fast (so sets lasting more than 12-15 seconds are a bad idea).