Last week at the box we saw a HUGE number of PRs in squat, deadlift, and push press. With that came numerous questions about how is that possible if we really haven’t lifted heavy in the past couple months on those lifts. So, I thought I would take just a moment and explain how that happens.
There are a couple reasons why. First, we are still programming for strength via normal CF programming. Second, for several months we followed the Wendler 5-3-1 method focusing on squats, deadlift, and push press. Then for the last couple of months, 8 weeks to be exact, we removed Wendler from our weekly programming and focused more on just a basic, old school, CrossFit program methodology. The whole reason for the break is the fact that I began to see people NOT hitting there lifts, especially on the last week before the deload week. For instance, on the last month before the break, I missed my 1 rep attempt and on the week prior I barely got my set of 3. It just felt super heavy to me even though my body felt fine. I noticed that happening to others as well the month prior.
So, what does this mean? Well, there is this little thing called central nervous system fatigue, CNS fatigue for short, that can have a giant impact on our performance. “Any time you move, the brain lights up with nerve impulses generated by chemical activity. A stream of these impulses flows from the brain to the working muscles, causing them to contract. We call this flow of nerve impulses ‘central drive’, which we can measure through various methods of arcane science. After some kinds of intense training, we see that central drive is reduced, causing a kind of fatigue even if the muscles are fine.” Matt Perryman Basically, what is being said above is you can feel fine yet still see a degradation in performance. Thus, seeing this degradation in performance, I decided it was time for us to take a break from the Wendler strength cycle so that our bodies and more importantly our central nervous system could have time to truly recover. The result, an overwhelming number of PRs because our bodies were recovered. Just goes to show the importance of REST.