Rest and the Central Nervous System
When the average athlete thinks of fatigue, they are generally thinking in a localized sense. “We did squats and kettlebell swings yesterday, my hamstrings are fatigued!” But, there is a broader sense of fatigue that is more draining than common local fatigue. This is fatigue to the Central Nervous System (CNS).
Everyone has experienced CNS fatigue. Did you only get four hours of sleep the night before? Were you in such a rush today that you didn’t get your proper caloric intake throughout the day? Did you have an exceptionally stressful day? If so, you know what I mean. No matter how great you felt the day before, no matter how loose your body feels, you just don’t have the drive. Even through warm-ups, you may feel fine. But, build up to the same weight you hit with absolute ease a few days ago and it feels like a truck, that is CNS fatigue, and the causes aren’t always the easiest to determine.
I just listed some very common causes of CNS fatigue but another common factor is intense workouts. Sometimes the CNS needs more time to recover than the local muscles required to perform any given lift. This is why we do deadlifts only once a week at most. It is such a compound movement requiring so many muscle groups across the body to work in concert that often the individual muscles recover before the system as a whole. So if an athlete does heavy deadlifts Day 1, on Day 3 does box jumps and feels fine, and on Day 5 does deadlifts again is crushed that is to be expected. The muscles used in the deadlift and box jumps were recovered by Day 3’s workout but the overall CNS was still not ready by Day 5.
We just went through a test week. We do not have a recovery week built in this week, although it is a large step back in overall intensity from what we have been doing for the past three months. You may opt for additional rest this week, I think that is a great idea. If you do continue your workouts as normal, you may feel slower or weaker than usual when performing common movements, this is expected. Don’t over exert yourself and balance your work with plenty of rest and recovery.
Finally, I saw a lot of gold stars on clean and snatch days two weeks ago when we were building up to 95% attempts. If you have been working at an inflated number for a while because you have made significant gains since our last test week, this is fine and expected as long as those stars represent a true perceived 95%. For those of you who felt so good on 95% days that you put a few more pounds on the bar just to see that gold star early…hopefully you now understand why you complained that what you had hit the previous week felt so heavy during test week. You squandered your peak because you think all that glitters is gold, this is a fool’s errand.
May the Ravens of Odin Guide You