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How To Combat CNS Overtraining

Just like your muscular system, your central nervous system can be overworked. If you feel tired, weak, and unmotivated in the gym, your sleepy CNS may be the cause.

As you go about your workout program you should always safeguard yourself against overtraining. Overtraining can happen to almost anyone—fit or unfit, young or old—who develops an imbalance between training and recovery.

Proper programming can go a long way towards helping to prevent overtraining. However, in many cases, issues outside of the gym can also tax your nervous system, leading to subpar results in your workouts and a general feeling of malaise. If that describes you, it's time to take stock and take action!

What is CNS Overtraining?

Many people don't understand the difference between muscular and CNS overtraining, and this confusion can allow them to fall prey to the latter.

Muscular overtraining occurs when the muscular system is not given sufficient downtime to repair broken-down tissues. For instance, if you were to work your quads intensely
on Monday and then go
back into the gym on
Tuesday to work them,
you could run the risk of
overtraining. Working the same muscles incessantly can negatively impact your muscular development, but it normally impacts one muscle group specifically.

On the other hand, central nervous system overtraining is a systemic issue. It doesn't just impact the quads, chest, or back, but rather the entire body. Your CNS is responsible for generating muscular contractions in all types of training, so when you stack workout upon workout, eventually it can tire out.

As a result of this general fatigue, you will be weaker and slower in all of your movements. You may find you don't have the force generation capacity that you normally do, or that you are unexpectedly uncoordinated at times.

What Causes CNS Overtraining?

In the gym, the main culprit is a program that has too much volume, too much intensity, and too little rest. Remember: Even if you've planned your program properly to allow for enough rest between each session for a given muscle, your central nervous system is still being stimulated.

However, all forms of stress can combine to tax the system beyond its capacity, from a financial crisis to a breakup. At that point, the workouts that normally sustain you may just be adding fuel to the fire and making you feel worse. If you suspect you are suffering from CNS overtraining, try to take a comprehensive look at potential contributors.

So how do we tackle this problem?

Simple Solutions to Combat CNS Overtraining

Your CNS is a core element of who you are and how you approach your life, and preserving it requires action both inside the gym and out. Here are five ways you can save your CNS.

1/
Rework Your Workout Program

A good workout program has adequate down time between sessions working a particular muscle group, but also down time between workout sessions period. The amount of time off you need is directly proportional to the intensity and volume of the program. The more work you are doing, the more rest you will need between sessions. Good programming includes periods of lower intensity and exercise variation.

2/
Sleep More

Sleep is the body's prime tool for repair, so make sure that you are getting at least eight hours each night. If you fail to do so, you won't recover as quickly from each workout session, and the next one could hit you even harder. In time, this could push you over the edge.

3/
Delegate

Far too many people jam-pack their schedules, when really they should just say no to that additional task. Rather than trying to take it all on yourself, take advantage of opportunities to pass off responsibility to others.

You can only do so much. If that sounds simple, it's because it is. The sooner you realize this, the sooner you'll be back on your way to your ideal physique.

4/
Meditate

Every year brings another study touting the physical, emotional, and psychological benefits of meditation. Meditation, or even just deep breathing, is an excellent way to reduce your stress level, thus reducing the chances of CNS fatigue.

If you've never tried it, meditation can sound a lot more daunting than it is. Luckily, there are hundreds of books, podcasts, and web sites that give clear, practical guidance on where to start and how to build a regular practice. All you need a few minutes a day and an open mind.

5/
Supplement with Fish Oil and Glutamine

If your immune system is weakened, it's much more likely that you will be unable to cope with training demands. Your immune system, like your CNS, is taxed by all types of stress, which is one reason why university students fall ill right near exams.

Don't wait until you feel terrible—be proactive. Fish oil and glutamine are two of the best supplements for enhancing your body's built-in defense systems, allowing you to fight on.


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About The Author

I’ve been working in the field of exercise science for the last 8 years. I’ve written a number of online and print articles.

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ramyhilal

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ramyhilal

another gr8 article by shannon clark,
thank u , ur my best author

Aug 9, 2012 1:34am | report
kelseykumquat

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kelseykumquat

Another great article by Shannon Clark. Thank you; you're my most favorite author.

Aug 9, 2012 8:12am | report
xBigzZ

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xBigzZ

Perfect timing for this article, I've been feeling some of the symptoms of this but didn't know what was wrong. Thank you for this

Aug 9, 2012 8:33am | report
jwethall

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jwethall

I need to stop forgetting to take my Fish Oil

Aug 9, 2012 10:40am | report
gman65

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gman65

Much respect for Miss Clark. Her articles are always spot on.

Aug 9, 2012 11:35am | report
BellendROW

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BellendROW

Thank u but, what about full body workouts? lol

Aug 9, 2012 12:18pm | report
chiefgreybeard

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chiefgreybeard

Full body workouts? I used them when competing in martial arts. I followed the lead of the great Steve Reeves, three full body workouts per week spaced as far apart as possible. I found that it all depends on the intensity and duration of the workout. The harder you are on your body, the more recovery time required.

Aug 24, 2012 6:00pm | report
godchaser64

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godchaser64

Good article! Thinking this may be my problem lately! Working on cleaning up my diet and getting more rest and re-motivating myself! Thanks!

Aug 9, 2012 12:20pm | report
slickdude

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slickdude

Thanks! I going to take a nap

Aug 9, 2012 12:21pm | report
TheDarkHorse77

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TheDarkHorse77

Explains alot!

Aug 9, 2012 12:38pm | report
VICTORV1990

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VICTORV1990

I Already Know My Problem Is Sleep Lol

Aug 9, 2012 12:39pm | report
Jeeem

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Jeeem

This is very helpful as I wondered if I was over training. Yup. I was. Motivation is back up again. Thanks for this read.

Aug 9, 2012 1:30pm | report
CaliberIsNumUno

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CaliberIsNumUno

I workout every 4-5 days, and I really believe HIT is the way to do it for natural folk. The more programs

Aug 9, 2012 1:44pm | report
chiefgreybeard

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chiefgreybeard

Hey HIT works for power an size, especially power.
It's actually easier on my aging joints than volume exercise and gives me the recovery time an aging body needs. Check out "Muscles In Minutes" by Mike Mentzer, 46 pages, the no B.S. version.

Aug 24, 2012 6:19pm | report
Holly444

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Holly444

This is a tough one. How do you know if you're experiencing symptoms of overtraining, or if you're just feeling lazy? Ha! For example, I've trained hard 3 days in a row, and today I have a fourth total-body workout planned, but my legs are sooo sore from yesterday's lower body workout. I feel drained like I need a break, but I wonder if I'm just being lazy and should suck it up and get it done.

Aug 9, 2012 1:45pm | report
HealthAndMusic1

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HealthAndMusic1

I've had times where I felt drained but decided to workout anyway and if you still feel like crap during your workout your doing more harm then good. if you try to go at it intensely but cant do it even if you want to then rest and go home.

Aug 19, 2012 11:21am | report
chiefgreybeard

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chiefgreybeard

I have a couple of personal rules that I have adopted through my 40 plus years of lifting. I never train a sore muscle. If I am going backward in a couple of my exercises, I take a day off. If that 's not enough, I take 3 days off. I also take a week off a couple of times a year and come back stronger than ever!

Aug 24, 2012 6:08pm | report
jupletcher

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jupletcher

Great article! I believe that CNS fatigue can also trick the body into thinking it's in need of carbohydrates. This can be a huge dilemma when training.

Aug 9, 2012 1:46pm | report
mr_kb

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mr_kb

Great article !

Aug 9, 2012 2:16pm | report
lugnut28

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lugnut28

That explains a lot. have tried mediation before but never knew it could be for this too

Aug 9, 2012 3:01pm | report
Egleaves22

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Egleaves22

"The amount of time off you need is inversely proportional to the intensity and volume of the program. The more work you are doing, the more rest you will need between sessions."
i think she meant proportional. Inversely proportional would mean the harder you work the less you need to rest.
Otherwise great article, I'd never even thought about CNS overtraining, definitely something Ill be paying attention to now.

Aug 9, 2012 4:45pm | report
shawneene03

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shawneene03

Wow great artical ! Pretty sure that's what's been going on with me. Going to put those helpful suggestions to use!!
Thanks.

Aug 9, 2012 5:32pm | report
Storm88

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Storm88

Isn't it proven that too much fish oil can have the reverse effect on your immune system?

Great write up.

Aug 17, 2012 8:02pm | report
Coconutz

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Coconutz

excelent ;)

Aug 20, 2012 4:02am | report
KingZander

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KingZander

Great Article! I was curious about this topic due to the high intensity of my workouts and you have answered all my questions! Thank You!

Aug 20, 2012 6:38pm | report
Showing 1 - 25 of 44 Comments

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