Now that you’ve planned your workout program using some of the fundamental principles of CNS training, you can gauge: How are you doing?
How difficult is it to do the exercises correctly?
If the exercises are running smoothly– with no trouble on balance or form–then you’re doing it wrong. Remember, these exercises are intended to stress the CNS in order to drive adaptation. If the exercises don’t seem challenging (i.e. difficult) then you aren’t adequately driving the neural changes that you’re seeking to accomplish. In this case, you should increase the difficulty by increasing the weight, adding asymmetry or cross-loading to functional exercises (such transitioning to single leg or one arm), modifying the posture of the exercise (e.g. go to a half-kneeling position) or choosing a new or more difficult exercise. Generally, increasing repetitions is not adequate to induce a CNS stress.
Conversely, if you are not able to do more than a single repetition without falling over, you need to reduce the difficulty of the exercise so that you can at least get somewhere between 7-15 repetitions in order to build and restore stable movements.
How tired are you at the end of your workouts?
Simply put: you should be fatigued but not sore or “gassed.” A general sense of fatigue without muscle specific or cardiovascular exhaustion indicates that you’ve stressed your CNS system without targeting alternate systems. This way your body will be able to focus its energy on recovering and adapting your CNS.
If you exhaust multiple physiological systems during CNS specific training, you put yourself at risk of over training and developing inefficient “work-arounds” or compensation patterns in your exercises.
Did you transition between phases too soon?
You should be building your workout program around a progression of phases, with each phase aiming to achieve a specific change or improvement. Universally, the first phase in your workout program should be focused in establishing stable movement patterns. This will make you more efficient during your training and prevent the occurrence or recurrence of injury.
However, we’re often eager to quickly move past this phase to get to the satisfying “meat” in our workout program. Don’t short change your movement patterns. The improved efficiency and injury resistance is critical to seeing your workout program through to its end goal.
Is something missing?
Did you include everything you need when you planned your workout program? Generally, most workout programs require phases for movement patterns, strength, and metabolic training in order to reach the intended goal. Sport specific training program also require skill training and performance phases in order to be successful.
If you forgot to include one of these elements in you initial planning for your exercise program, you might want to revisit your plan and see if you need to add something in order to be successful.
The slightest changes can make extraordinary differences.