When it comes to exercising and working out, particularly when it comes to building muscle, there is most certainly such a thing as “too much” in regards to working out. Forget about the stories of the bodybuilders of the 70’s, spending 4, 5, even 6 hours a day in the gym lifting weights, because truthfully not only is that kind of volume not necessary, it could even be detrimental and counterproductive. For people attempting to build muscle, rest and recovery is just as important as working out itself, otherwise you run the risk of suffering from overtraining, including overtraining your central nervous system.
What is CNS (Central Nervous System) overtraining?
Many people make the mistake of confusing muscular system overtraining with CNS overtraining. When most gym-goers talk about overtraining, they’re talking about muscular system overtraining, in which you are simply exercising too much, without letting your body rest and recover so that it is able to build muscle correctly. CNS overtraining however, is much more of what is known as a systematic issue. This type of overtraining does not just impact various muscle groups, instead, it impacts the whole of your body. Your CNS is required in order to generate muscle contractions during every single exercise. So, when you are simply working out too much, and pushing your body too hard, it can quickly become burned out.
What is the main cause of CNS overtraining?
Speaking from an exercise standpoint, the main culprit responsible for CNS overtraining is following a program which has not enough rest, too much volume, too heavy weights, and a lot of intensity. CNS overtraining causes are pretty much the same as muscular system overtraining causes and they are basically trying to do too much, with not enough time for rest and recovery. Other outside factors also impact the CNS however, as it regulates your entire body. Stress, a lack of sleep, a demanding schedule, working too hard, personal issues, and much more on top of that can also contribute towards CNS overtraining, and sometimes working out can simply be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
How to avoid CNS overtraining
The good news is that like most things, CNS overtraining can be avoided and treated by following certain protocols and techniques. These include:
Changing your workout program – If your training program is intense, and if you’ve been following it for a long time, sometimes all that is required is a simple change to the program. For a few weeks follow a slightly easier program.
Get more sleep – Sleep is an essential part of any bodybuilding program yet many of us simply don’t get enough. Aim for at least 7 and a half hours a night and try to get to bed before midnight each night.
Take a week or two off – For some of us, the thought of taking a week or two off the gym will fill us with dread and despair. In reality however, it can be extremely beneficial. Taking time off from the gym will allow your body to repair itself and recover, almost as if it’s being given a holiday. When you do start back at the gym, you will notice your strength and energy levels have actually increased and your workouts will therefore be far more effective.