Recovery and CNS - Erin Stern

May 18, 2015

When talking about recovery from tough training sessions, we often think about giving the muscles a rest. Understandably so, muscle soreness is easily recognizable and generally subsides over a few days, but what about the central nervous system (CNS)? Lifting heavy, doing HIIT workouts, increasing training duration, and not getting adequate rest can lead to CNS fatigue. I have heard that the CNS can take twice as long (or longer) to recover than muscles. It’s different for each person, and is based on genetics, other life stressors, and the number of years that he/she has been training. Some of the signs include:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Inability to focus
  • Getting sick more often
  • Weights seem heavier than they should
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Plateauing results

If you experience one or more of these signs, it's a good idea to take a few days off to rest. I don't think it's necessary to be sedentary during the days off - an active recovery (easy walking, biking, or swimming) can be helpful to the mind and body.

Often, when preparing for a show or contest, many competitors overreach. The increased volume of training, decreased caloric intake, and less sleep can attribute to overreaching. I can’t recall one contest where I didn’t overreach – I think it can be difficult to get the physique to certain level of leanness! In the past, I couldn’t take a day off from my program. I'd try to get more sleep or sit in an ice bath. Since I have been supplementing with BetaTOR, I noticed that I do recover more quickly than I used to! I'm also stronger; I did reps of 145 lbs. on bench, hang cleans at 135 lbs., and 425 lbs. on glute bridges!

Thanks for reading, and train hard, y’all!

-Erin Stern, IFBB Figure Pro/USATF Competitor

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