Ask The Super Strong Guy: Is CNS Fatigue Real?

Pro powerlifter Mark Bell answers your questions about CNS fatigue and overtraining.

I've been doing strength work and I fear my C.N.S. is fried. How would I know, and if it is, what should I do about it?

Fry your central nervous system (CNS) in coconut oil, you little wienie, and go back to collecting stamps! Training your body beyond its limits is not a disease, it's good for you. What do you think happens to your body when it gets acclimated to intense workouts? Growth!

The ability to push harder, further, and to simply be better than you were the day before is crucial for continued progress. Do not worry about your "CNS." The very reason for training is to get jacked, strong, or conditioned in a way that makes you feel accomplished. Strength is never a weakness. There's nothing wrong with intensity.

I get pissed off when I hear dudes talking about overworking themselves. My suspicions heighten when I hear these same guys talk about what chick they tried to get with or how drunk or high they got Friday night. Where are the actual hard brothers at? The wussification of wife-beater wearing, cell-phone carrying Nancys at the gym leads me to believe that overtraining is somewhat of a myth made up by people who are straight-up scurred of hard work.

Training Over

Starting today, let's look into the "flashy thingy" (your standard neuralyzer) from Men in Black and forget that lame term "overtraining." Rather, let's call it "training over."

Now, you're no longer a victim—overtraining didn't just happen because of your dumb ass. Instead, you engaged in training over your body's normal capacity to create a new stimulus on purpose.

In my not so humble opinion, people use "CNS fatigue" and "overtraining" as excuses. Training over our normal work capacity is done purposefully to toughen up. There's no such thing as overtraining—only being underprepared for the task you're about to perform.

How to Avoid Being a Wimp

If you don't want to feel like a wet blanket, licked stamp, hump, wuss, wimp, pansy, or bag of shit, then you need to take care of your body. You're about to get your heavy on; that means you need to take into account this new stimulus of badassery. Here's how to do it:

It isn't rocket science

Only lift weights 4-5 times per week. This isn't rocket-science—be intelligent about your training.

Get in shape

Work toward being better conditioned. Push your rep work, push challenging super sets, or push and pull a weighted sled 2-3 times per week. Do some form of cardio work to increase that heart rate.


Stay limber. Do at least some type of mobility work 2-3 times per week. A little goes a long way. For some, just 30-40 minutes per week can be plenty.

Get Some Sleep

Sleep 7-8 hours each night. If you have trouble getting in a full night's dose of sleep, you may need to hit up a power nap 2-3 times per week.

Eat Right

Follow some type of diet plan that allows you to perform well in the gym while minimizing or losing body fat. Use the simple principle of getting in one gram of protein per pound of body weight. You may need to use a form of a whey protein to achieve this level. I personally like hydrolyzed forms of whey—they mix easily and seem to digest well. You should also eat about half that amount in slow-digesting carbs and healthy fats. Eat most carbs post workout. Consume healthy fats from fish, grass-fed beef, grass-fed milk, cheese, and butter. Supplement with fish oil and coconut oil. Post-workout nutrition is huge for your recovery, so choose a meal that has fast-acting carbs and whey protein.

Training System

Pick a training system that allows you to get acclimated. The Cube, 5-3-1, and Westside programs are all excellent choices because once you get the hang of them, they can help you gain strength quickly without getting hurt. Each of these systems supports hypertrophy/muscle-building training, and they're flexible protocols.

Stay Hydrated

Make sure you stay hydrated for your training sessions. Drink water and electrolytes.

Break the Rules

Arnold said it best: "What is the point of being on this Earth if you are going to be like everyone else?" Don't drink booze or stay out late—that shit ain't cool. Know what is cool? Working toward some big goals and then reaching them. How awesome would it be to have jacked 20-inch arms hanging off your body and a 500-pound raw bench? Now that is a lot cooler then getting drunk every Friday night!

Don't be Negative

Just put in the work and be positive. Don't allow others to put you down or tell you that you're doing too much. Don't allow coaches or so-called "experts" to put out your fire and limit your intensity. Believe in yourself and believe in your cause. You can always backtrack and make adjustments if you find yourself "training over."

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Any Questions?

Strength training is not supposed to be comfortable! Now is the time to multiply your hustle and multiply your muscle. I'll say it again: Strength is never a weakness.