You did it, you completed Murph! But, as you try to workout the rest of the week, your body isn’t firing as it normally would on the rest of the workouts you’re doing! Thankfully it’s reload week and so we are just concerned with movement, but it’s weird having your body not respond the way you’re used to!
What is going on? What can you do to get back in the groove you’re used to? Well, let’s talk about it!
Your Brain And Your Fitness!
Our brains are wonderful muscles. Even though we as humans can throw better than any other species and adapt to new climates with ease, most of our evolution has been spent creating that large organ in your skull.
The brain can be broken down into lobes and cortexes, and for purposes of fatigue, we need to talk about our motor cortex which is found in our frontal lobe.
That motor cortex controls all of our movement. You wanna lift a dumbbell? That’s the motor cortex! Shake hands with your dad? Definitely motor cortex. Tilt your head to the side? Once again the ol’ MC!
In order to use your muscles, your motor cortex has to send a signal from your frontal lobe, down your spinal cord, and to the muscle you need to contract. This requires energy and the speed at which it happens relies on how much energy you have at your disposal and how well rested you are.
When we normally workout, say like the workout Fran (21-15-9 Barbell Thrusters and Pull-Ups), we are going to be burning through our energy at a pretty quick rate. Our legs start to feel heavy and you can’t move the barbell anymore. Later on in the day, you feel your legs and arms get sore, this is what we call peripheral fatigue!
Peripheral Fatigue is a totally normal reaction to your body doing an exercise that is beyond its’ current state of fitness. You can usually workout while peripherally fatigued just fine. You might not be able to get the same power output from the muscles that are sore from your previous workout, but you can absolutely use them in a different capacity and/or focus on other muscles! For instance, we use our legs every day in CrossFit but, we will use our hamstrings for deadlifts on Monday and quads on Tuesday while still being able to give relatively the same amount of energy to both.
In a normal exercise week with us you can work around peripheral fatigue for about 3 days in a row of intense exercise before needing to take a recovery day of light exercise or skill work. Your muscles simply just get too damaged from training and need some light movement/rest to promote recovery.
For a workout like Murph, we start to see a different kind of fatigue that requires a bit more due diligence to take care of.
Central Nervous System Fatigue
Central Nervous System Fatigue (CNS Fatigue) is a result of your brain becoming fatigued from overuse. This fatigue isn’t just a results of the motor cortex having to send too many signals too quickly to your body, it can come from stress at work, too much time studying, being awake for too long, going too long without a vacation, etc…
While Murph triggers this type of fatigue due to the amount of high intensity movements it makes athletes do. CNS fatigue can be exacerbated or originally fatigued by other functionalities of your brain.
You brain, like your muscles, have a capacity. In exercise, we measure this in terms of fitness. Your body’s overall fitness is measured in its’ ability to handle different lengths, variations, loads, and intensities of activity. We can expand this capacity overtime by training beyond our current limits through exercise and appropriate rest to train our bodies to be able to train our bodies to have a higher level of fitness. Our brains function under the same principle, but we often give our brains way less love.
You can tell you are suffering from CNS fatigue through your behaviors. If you find yourself more irritable than normal, you’re not able to fall asleep easily, you have brain fog, your appetite changes, and/or you are getting sick more often (these are also symptoms of other various illnesses. Always consult with your doctor if any of these symptoms become life threatening or affect you beyond just having a bad day).
How Do You Recover From CNS Fatigue
The way to recover from CNS fatigue requires us taking time to focus on things that don’t stress us out. That means taking our minds away from things that put stress on you and putting a priority on sleep.
In the gym, this means maybe going lighter on weight and just getting some light reps in while talking with friends and taking things at 70% intensity or less. At work, this might mean taking a vacation or making a quiet zone when you get home so that you are focused on something that brings you joy. Family causing you stress? Alone time is an often overlooked thing to do. It’s okay to go to the movies alone and just turn off your brain to watch a Michael Bay film!
You could have a sweetheart lifestyle or you’re grinding to get that bread, but we all need to give our brains some love and recover. Even F1 drivers have to unplug, and they get paid millions to drive billionaires cars for about 100 hours a year.
We’ve got you covered in the gym department on recovering from Murph, just come on in and we will adjust your day so you can feel 100% as soon as possible. The real question is, what are you gonna do this week to reduce your stress and fight the rest of that formula for CNS fatigue?
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