7 Ways to Minimize CNS Fatigue

Posted by Jason Ferruggia

There’s a simple formula for size and strength gains.

Supply the signal to force adaptation to occur without doing too much damage in the process.

In other words, you do the work necessary to force the muscle to grow bigger and stronger but consciously take steps to minimize three things:

  • Spinal compression
  • Joint degradation
  • CNS (central nervous system) fatigue

Like Lee Haney said,

“Stimulate, don’t annihilate.”

Today we’re going to focus on CNS fatigue. If the CNS is not recovered or ready to perform at max capacity your training and thus, your results will suffer.

Here are seven ways to minimize CNS fatigue and ensure that you always remain fresh.

1) Tone it Down a Notch

If you’re one of those people who always gets fired up like Lyle Alzado before a set there’s a good chance you are suffering from some type of CNS fatigue.

I did this for years and can honestly remember not sleeping more than a few hours each night for a very long period of my life.

That sucked.

You can’t get that nuts, crank up the Slayer, hit smelling salts and head butt the wall before every set. Hell, even doing it once per workout will fry you.

Reign it in a bit and train with focus but not so much off the wall intensity. You’ll feel a lot better when you do.

2) Do Less Work at 90% and Above

Training at or above 90% of your one rep max is very stressful to the CNS. Yes, you should do it occasionally, but not all the time.

And when you do be sure to limit the attempts done in that range. If you follow Prilepins chart stay on the low end.

For the most part, I prefer to have my clients work up to 85%, and no higher, for most of their strength work. The 90% stuff is still done but with far less frequency.

3) Steer Clear of Failure

When you train to failure you burn yourself out and delay your recovery from one workout to the next.

Always finish your sets with something left in the tank and be sure that the final rep of each set was crisp and clean.

No slow grinders.


4) Don’t Overuse Advanced Level Plyo’s

Jumps are a big part of my programs. However, there can always be too much of a good thing. Basic low level jumps can be done with more volume and frequency but weighted jumps and depth jumps need to be minimized.

Keep an advanced form of jump in the program, at a low number of ground contacts, for no more than three weeks.  After that completely stop jumping for a week or switch to some very easy bounding type drills.

5) Use Straps

Gripping excessively heavy weights can be quite stressful on the CNS. Using straps on most Olympic pulls (except cleans) and deadlift variations can remedy this.

If you plan to compete you will, obviously, want to train the competition lift without straps but use them on assistance work. I’m not advocating straps to help you artificially lift more weight than you can without them. That’s not what they should be used for.

I want you to use them on a weight you could lift without straps but simply use the straps to ease the CNS stress because you don’t have to grip the bar so tightly.

6) Use Fat Bars

Squeezing a pencil thin standard bar and trying to crush it with all your might is stressful to the CNS. It’s not normal either. There’s never time in real life where you would grip something that thin with that much force.

The body associates the closed fist with the fight or flight response.

Opening the fist up a bit and gripping a wider diameter bar is somewhat less stressful. That is why I have no problem with people doing farmers walks sans straps. The handle is usually much fatter and you can almost have a relaxed calm about you while walking with the missiles versus the intense focus required to grip a regular thin bar.

I have advocated the use of fat bars for years now and this is just one of the reasons why.

At Renegade Gym we only use the best of the best, angled fat grip bars. I love them so much that I contacted the owner of the company and was able to get a 5% discount for all members of The Renegade Nation on these exact bars.

If you have a home gym or your own training facility these are the bars you want to have. Be sure to get them with revolving sleeves to keep your elbows healthy.

If that’s not in your budget right now I still highly recommend ordering a pair of Fat Gripz.

7) Get More Sleep

As usual, the way to improve almost anything comes down to getting more high quality sleep. If your sleep is suffering your CNS will probably not recover quite as quickly and you won’t feel quite up to par when it comes time to train.

Get to bed earlier and take the necessary steps to ensure deeper sleep.

If you liked this post I’d greatly appreciate you hitting the LIKE button and sharing the love.