04-17-2011, 03:59 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
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How much can the CNS handle? (Article)
Overtraining: A (Mostly) Mental Problem
After a very heavy workout — heavy as in using weights very close to maximum or setting a PR — it’s normal to feel exhausted. You might feel wiped out, like a dead battery with no juice left. Usually this happens along with feelings of lethargy and lack of motivation.
You’re most likely to experience this after a competition. Those of you who love to train on stimulants and who constantly try to beat last week’s records will be no stranger to burn-out. There’s no question that training to your absolute max at every opportunity is going to wear you down over time. Zatsiorsky called the burn-out of constant maxing ‘staleness’.
Here we run into a terminology issue. What is a ‘maximum’? The Russians defined a 1RM as your best in competition, the absolute best you could achieve on the platform, with all the stress of being in front of a crowd. By some accounts, ‘meet nerves’ could add a spectacular 10% to a lifter’s numbers.
The Bulgarians used a different definition, calling for the best you can do right now, casually. No getting excited, no adrenaline rush, no elevated heart rate. No sitting in the corner brooding over speed metal for 15 minutes before hitting the lift. You just go do it, calm as you can. If you can’t hit it without getting nervous, it’s over your max for the day by definition.
The difference in the two is so substantial that we distinguish between contest maximums (Cmax) and training maximums (Tmax). The dividing line is apprehension. By getting nervous, we switch on the stress response. By treating the lift as a potential threat (nobody wants to get caught under a max squat or bench), we add a new dimension to the problem.
Zatsiorsky acknowledged that staleness comes about largely due to frequent training with Cmax attempts. In comparison, the Tmax (or daily max) represents far less of a stress. Intriguingly, it doesn’t appear to be the weight that burns you out — rather, it’s your response to the weight.
When you recognize that bar sitting on the floor as a maximum deadlift, you get nervous. Stress systems come online, and the central governor knows something’s happening based on that feedback. But if the stress response never happens, will the governor react the same way?
Say it’s not a PR-attempt, but only a pull at 90% of your best-ever deadlift. You could easily argue that a PR is inseparable from getting nervous. But 90%, you should be able to hit that without getting meet-nerves. Will pulling 90%, calm, have the same effect on the central governor?
The common assumption is that lifting anything heavy-enough causes CNS fatigue. Yet there is virtually no evidence to back that belief. So I ask, why must CNS fatigue result from any heavy attempts? Is there any reason to believe this, besides the inertia of tradition? Why must it be the weight, rather than your psychological response to the weight?