Do you work out like a beast? Do you train twice a day like Lou Ferrigno? Do you do 2 hour sessions that would leave the average man broken?
Maybe you do all the above, yet still have a gut that you can’t lose.
If that’s the case, you are probably missing one vital ingredient for achieving the body you want..
Before I go on, let’s talk about something most people overlook.
The CNS = ‘central nervous system’.
The central nervous consists of the brain, spinal cord, and all of their nerves. Basically, it controls our movement, thoughts, feelings, and arousal level (not that type of arousal :/).
When I talk about recovery, I’m not just talking about muscle and joint soreness – I am often talking about the CNS.
Think of CNS as a glass of water. How full that glass is determines your capacity.
The emptier the glass, the more tired, weak, and unmotivated you feel. You will literally be weaker in the gym. Even your reaction times can be lower (important in sports).
Generally, when people talk about feeling ‘burnt out’, they are unknowingly referring to CNS fatigue. The glass is empty and not getting topped back up.
On the flip side, when your glass of water is topped up, you will most likely feel energetic, buzzing, and strong! These are the sessions you’ll probably set PRs on deadlifts or squats.
Though you can’t keep the glass 100% full all the time, you can try to manage it as much as possible.
Things that empty the glass:
- Poor sleep
- Relying on stimulants too much
- Life stress (relationship, work deadlines etc)
- High volume of training
- Training hard too often
Things that refill the glass:
- Massages, spa, etc
- Easy training days
- Days off
- Positive experiences with family and friends
Sleep is probably the most important, yet most sacrificed aspect of recovery. We are ‘on’ 24/7.
Deep, quality sleep is where all the magic happens. Without getting into all the science, poor sleep makes it easier to put on fat, and harder to build muscle. So allow the 1 am Game Of Thrones binges (note to myself here).
Another aspect of recovery often ignored are ‘easy’ days.
I’m a big fan of cycling between ‘High’ and ‘Low’ days, as popularised by famous sprint coach Charlie Francis.
For instance, if you have a hard workout on Monday, you might choose to do an easy cardio session the next day. That ‘low’ day will help boost your recovery so you can go hard again the next day.
Hell, if you don’t like doing easy days, just take the day off. Give your body a chance to replenish your hormones and neurotransmitters.
Heavy weight and lots of volume (high number of sets and reps) are generally very CNS-intensive, and therefore need adequate recovery.
One idea I like to preach is to always ‘leave a little in the tank’. Try to perform reps with picture perfect form, and stop the set 1-2 reps before you’re going to fail.
Finish the session feeling fresh so you can recover and come back stronger next time. Here’s my rather jacked friend Miko giving his thoughts on the topic.
As Miko says above, you have to see the bigger picture. Surely you want to be strong and fit for the rest of your life, not just in 4 weeks time for the beach. There is no rush.
I’m not the strongest guy in the world, but the PRs I’ve hit have always been a result of of patience over weeks and months. Any time I’ve tried to rush it, I soon hit a road block and can no longer get stronger.
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