What Is Central Nervous System Fatigue And How Can It Affect Your Workouts?

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Personal/Fitness Training Blog

Fatigue happens after all difficult exercises. Running a kilometre gets harder after you’ve already run two. Powerlifting becomes more challenging after you’ve done multiple reps. Recognising this fatigue is how we continue to push ourselves to run further distances as well as lift heavier weights so that we can grow faster and stronger with every single workout.

However, always overtraining to the point of exhaustion may cause the brain to become chronically tired. Referred to as central nervous system (CNS) fatigue, this condition is marked by lowered functioning in the segment of the brain that is responsible for voluntary movement.

While some individuals debate what causes it (and others deny its presence altogether), many athletes as well as active individuals have struggled with the long-term side effects of CNS fatigue.

Why Does Fatigue Result From Prolonged Endurance Exercises?

Much of the work which has been done on the mechanisms behind CNS fatigue offers reasons as to why fatigue results from prolonged endurance exercise. In addition, there’s also a lot of research into output-related syndromes, for example chronic fatigue syndrome.

When we switch gears and then examine CNS fatigue under a microscope, information to validate the biological theory, which states that it results from high-intensity (speed and power) exercise, becomes far more elusive.

As sports coaches and personal trainers, however, we likely agree that we are not able to plan for successive high-intensity sessions without experiencing negative consequences. Or can we? Perhaps we do not know or it’s highly individual or subject to the logistical and traditional constraints of western sport models and common periodisation schemes.

Understanding CNS Fatigue

The brain as well as the spinal cord are designed in order to give us freedom of movement. However, chronic overtraining may fatigue the central nervous system to the point of where your movement becomes inefficient . In a nutshell, this is what takes place during CNS fatigue.

Extending yourself during workouts is one of the main causes of CNS fatigue although it can also be caused by poor sleep as well as bad nutrition. CNS fatigue is thought to be most commonly seen among weightlifting and strength-training athletes however it can happen to anyone who engages in high-intensity exercise. Plus, everyone has a different work capacity which means that some people may be able to endure more strenuous exercise before suffering from CNS fatigue.

Overtraining and CNS fatigue are often put into the same category however one is more serious than the other. Overtraining is a common side effect of attempting a new and rigorous exercise routine, and it can often be overcome with a few days of adequate rest as well as nutrition. In contrast, CNS fatigue results from chronic fatigue of the muscles and is more challenging to overcome.

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How To Overcome CNS Fatigue

Rest is the first and most essential way for you to overcome CNS fatigue. Sleep assists your body to recover and promotes muscle growth. This ensures that your workouts remain useful. In addition to getting enough sleep each and every single night, you’ll also want to schedule adequate downtime between your workout sessions.

Workouts which require more muscle activation, such as heavy weightlifting or spinning, should be balanced with more rest. In addition, you should have a post-workout recovery plan which includes proper nutrition.

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