So what is CNS, it stands for the central nervous system. It is important during day to day to help your body communicate. But what is its effect and use when exercising.
The central nervous system needs warming up, think of it as a muscle, to get your body ready for any workout you need to stretch, engage and activate your body.
Stretching dynamically will start the flow to get your body ready, getting rid of any tension, doing these stretches in a slow controlled manner to allow your body to begin to connect each muscle and joint together.
Engaging, this is when you want to start targeting the muscles and areas you need to ‘switch on’ (what are you training), these may be areas that are underused, that can help stabilise your movements. Through high reps or isometric holds, allowing a flow of blood to the area; helping the body communicate and get ready for the next step.
Activate, this is where you start moving more. With the CNS being warmed up it can help recruit and work muscles to enable more power. To really get the CNS working you need to be explosive and powerful. Low reps with low sets 3 to 4).
A study back in 1894 showed how a women completed a very specific training program, only training her left hand through squeezing a rubber ball a few times each day. Through establishing a baseline by using a gauge that showed her grip strength.
13 days of training her right hand through squeezing a rubber ball, she squeezed the ball with her left hand, and miraculously she’d increased her left hand strength by 43 percent.
Many studies have been studied this effect called ‘cross education’ which shows that the body is interconnected and allows for strength gains to happen even when somewhat untrained. Although, some individuals may be uneven or unbalanced in strength, stability and mobility when it comes to using their peripherals, ie not everyone who naturally learns to write with their right hand can just pick up a pen and write just as well with their left hand.
But it shows the CNS working at its finest, to show a connection and not allow for complete unbalance through the body. And in some circumstances the untrained side/muscle comes off stronger.
I personally can say i’m right hand dominate, however when doing any exercise using both arms/hands now I am feel a stronger contraction on my left bicep/tricep.
My theory behind this is similar to the comparison to a marathon runner and a sprinter; one is using their legs a lot, running for long amounts of time, putting pressure and stress through the muscles and joints throughout, a sprinter on the other hand is only using their legs to go a short distance, stop and then rest for a long period, in between short sprints, they are completing stretches or heavy resistance training.
My right hand is the marathon runner, doing every lift/hold, writing, cutting motion throughout my days, its used a lot without even realising, however my left hand comes along, using the principal from the study, its learnt how to lift but will be purely power like a sprinter.
Hope you are still following along!
Staying on bicep curls, when you are doing your 3 or 4 or more sets of bicep curls you will start feeling fatigued. It’s not only the muscle fatiguing, but your CNS is also fatiguing. Studies are still not sure on why or how this happens, but with the central nervous system/spinal cord, the peripheral muscles, biochemical and psychological fatiguing throughout a workout all have an impact and influence on one another.
Another study has shown when a muscle is stretched through static and dynamic stretching has caused an effect on flexibility, with the ‘cross education’ effect coming in to play, whether it be in the lower or upper portion of your body, there can be an increase in flexibility.
Nutrition and CNS. After a tough workout your CNS needs the right nutrition for it to recover and allow your body be ready for your next workout. To optimise a faster recovering nervous system there are plenty of supplements or foods that can complement the CNS. Nutrients needed are Omega-3 and B complex vitamins. While you can get flax seeds and walnuts that contain a high amount of Omega-3 fatty acids, only a low amount or DHA is absorbed. Oily fish, kale and grass fed beef are high in Omega-3 and absorbed by the body well.
Vitamin B can be found in any dark leafy greens which can supplement your body with enough Vitamin B to allow the CNS to replenish.
One of my favourite and best ways of resting, recovering and replenishing is to sleep!
Written by Aaron Goacher
Founder Recondition Me
Aaron is a graduate Sports Therapist, Fitness Coach and has been training since the age of 15, after suffering from an illness which stopped muscle growth and function, he has always had an interest in everything sports science, health science and anything fitness related.