If you’re a veteran gymgoer, you probably know what it’s like to feel fatigued.
You’re drained, achy, and lethargic. The weights feel oppressively heavy. You’d rather go home and take a nap than train.
Look around online for an answer as to what causes this, and one of the first explanations you’ll likely find is something called central nervous system (CNS) fatigue, aka “neural fatigue.”
The reason you feel so down, the goo-roo will explain, is your nervous system has become overtaxed and needs a break, not unlike a barrel of a gun that has overheated from intensive firing and needs to cool off.
To resolve the problem, the solution offered is always some form of more rest and less stress, like taking a few days off or deloading or the like, and to avoid such issues in the future, suggestions usually include training less frequently or intensely, taking special supplements, and sleeping or eating more.
In fact, some fitness folks claim that minimizing CNS fatigue is a vitally important (and often overlooked) aspect of getting jacked—and especially for us natural weightlifters—and promote low-volume training plans as optimal for maximizing overall long-term results.
How reasonable is all of this? Is your body really so fragile that it can only manage a handful of productive weightlifting workouts per week? Is CNS fatigue even real?
To answer these questions and more, I invited Menno Henselmans back on the podcast to break it all down.
In case you’re not familiar with him, Menno is a bodybuilding coach, writer, and published scientist who’s also on the Scientific Advisory Board of my sports nutrition company, Legion Athletics.
In this interview, Menno discusses the different types of fatigue, what CNS fatigue really is, how much can result from training, how to deload properly (and why), and more.
Let’s get to it!
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5:50 – What is fatigue?
9:40 – How can you tell the difference between mental and physical fatigue?
20:17 – Is there any way to achieve an ongoing deficit?
25:26 – How long can CNS fatigue last?
37:27 – What is your recommended method of deload?