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View Full Version : DJ's T-Nation article "tapping test" for CNS fatigue


Garrett Smith
06-19-2008, 10:48 AM
So, I just read Dan John's new article at T-Nation (http://www.t-nation.com/article/most_recent/3_tape_measures_of_progress) (always good stuff!) and I became interested in the "tapping test" he referred to. I'm too lazy to do a waking HR or count pencil dots every morning, so I googled "central nervous system test tapping free" and found multiple links to a shareware 20-day trial version of a 25-second tapping test.

Here's the link I downloaded it from:
http://www.download3000.com/download_27666.html

There were multiple other places to download the same program from Arialit Labs.

It is simply tapping on a button for 25 seconds to see how many times you can do it. I'm going to give it a run for a while...maybe write the numbers in my training log to keep track...FYI. :D

Steven Low
06-19-2008, 11:02 AM
That's actually a pretty genius way to check CNS fatigue.

Although the other way I've seen that involved just a bit more effort is testing max vertical leap. Obviously, if your CNS is fried you're going to have some decreasing in your power. Heart rate test can be obscured by a variety of factors it seems so it's not always the best one (although it will work most of the time).


Rest of the article was pretty good too. It's funny how easy people can get away from their goals sometimes myself including myself. :(

Daniel Olmstead
06-19-2008, 11:16 AM
Thanks for the link. As a newbie to this training thing, I've been puzzled over CNS fatigue and wondering, when I'm tired, whether I should take a week off or just push through it. I'll be curious to try this test out for a while and see what happens.

Chris Forbis
06-19-2008, 11:20 AM
That's actually a pretty genius way to check CNS fatigue.

Although the other way I've seen that involved just a bit more effort is testing max vertical leap. Obviously, if your CNS is fried you're going to have some decreasing in your power. Heart rate test can be obscured by a variety of factors it seems so it's not always the best one (although it will work most of the time).


Rest of the article was pretty good too. It's funny how easy people can get away from their goals sometimes myself including myself. :(

I think I discussed this with Greg before... standing broad jump would also work. That might give better resolution (and be easier to measure) since you can broad jump more than you can vert.

Garrett Smith
06-19-2008, 12:10 PM
Since I log on every morning pre-workout (to check email and my last workout #s), this particular test is very appealing to me.

Gant Grimes
06-19-2008, 02:35 PM
"Are you making progress?"

An awesome question that should be asked and answered daily.

Dave Paton
06-19-2008, 06:39 PM
I think i may be hitting the CNS fatigue right now. back in April I PR'd on snatch at 155lbs after completing a 6 week OL program recommended by Dan John on his website. Yesterday I failed at 3 attempts with 140. this was after doing another 6 week program. I may have to re-evaluate but I want to finish this damn program!

Steven Low
06-19-2008, 11:11 PM
Yeah, if you're "new" as in beginner level strength (see Rippetoe weightlifting standards if you have no clue) and you're not making progress after a couple workouts and find yourself stalling or decreasing.... take a couple days off.

Derek Weaver
06-20-2008, 12:14 AM
Perhaps the best line from that article: "For the truly dense, if you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there."

Good, good stuff on the CNS points. In my experience, CNS fatigue has always kinda crept up on me. This how I figured out how crucial back off and rest weeks are. Nothing worse than setting a PR, going stale for 5 days and then getting the flu and being forced to take 10 days off.

JW Luckett
06-20-2008, 07:03 AM
Isn't the "guru" referred to at the beginning of the article Glassman himself?

John Alston
06-20-2008, 07:12 AM
Did anyone tap away this morning?

JW, that wouldn't be the first time I've head that description of DJ as supposed to be coming from that source.

Garrett Smith
06-20-2008, 07:22 AM
Did it twice yesterday, once this morning.

Came up as "normal" each time, even with a mild head cold. I'll be curious to see if/when it drops off...

Daniel Olmstead
06-20-2008, 09:23 AM
I tried the test out this morning. Feeling rather well-rested after a couple recovery days. I'll be curious to try again when I'm feeling fried and see what happens.

It's a cool little app, but I don't think it's worth $50. It wouldn't be difficult to do much the same thing with Word and a stopwatch, and then just use character count.

Garrett Smith
06-20-2008, 09:47 AM
Good point, Daniel. I think I'd also rather only do 10 seconds anyway...

Ken Urakawa
06-20-2008, 12:58 PM
This was tossed about on the CrossFit board way back when, right? I thought the generally accepted method was to hit the spacebar in Word for a particular time, and look to see how many characters/spaces you typed?

Anyway, if I remember correctly, there was some concern that doing the test too frequently was going to distort the results. Anyone else having this flashback, or am I off on my own again...

Dave Van Skike
06-21-2008, 11:05 AM
to what end?

poor warm ups and feeling sluggish and "off" precedes a PR for me..I've hit rep PRs in the axle dead recently with a massive head cold and at the end of a 4 weeks cycle of heavy pulling..

sure the CNS may be fatigued....but who cares?

Steven Low
06-21-2008, 07:13 PM
to what end?

poor warm ups and feeling sluggish and "off" precedes a PR for me..I've hit rep PRs in the axle dead recently with a massive head cold and at the end of a 4 weeks cycle of heavy pulling..

sure the CNS may be fatigued....but who cares?

This is true.

Some performance decreasing is good and should actually be programmed and encouraged. Anymore than ~10-15% deficit in performance though and you're going to see losses in strength )from what I've heard -- no proof) even with supercompensation. So I mean planned overtraining is definitely a viable option, but too much can be detrimental. It's a fine balance.

For beginners there needs to be no such thing though. They should make gains regardless unless something is just off in either diet, sleep, training, etc.

I think people in general are too scared of overtraining that they undertrain. But most CFers who do 3/1 are indeed scared of overtraining and ARE overtrained for one reason or another.

When threads like this pop up on CF I'm kinda inclined to wonder what people are actually thinking. I mean, first they go to diet which is obviously important. Then to other random factors.. then last of all to sleep which is often more important than diet. What about say... pretty much that you're just doing more than your body can handle? What about a deloading week?

http://www.board.crossfit.com/showthread.php?t=33361

Gotta look in context and evaluate.


Anyway, this would probably be a good idea for an article for PMenu or CF journal if someone wants to write it up. How to evaluate decreasing performance via diet, sleep, overreaching/overtraining, recovery techniques, etc. Someone wanna write it up? Should I?

Peter Dell'Orto
06-22-2008, 12:53 AM
How to evaluate decreasing performance via diet, sleep, overreaching/overtraining, recovery techniques, etc. Someone wanna write it up? Should I?

I'm barely qualified to read it, nevermind write it.

But I'd like to see it. I know I overtrain sometimes, usually doing fight prep...it's hard to gage "how much" so I tend to go a little hard. At least based on the post-fight systemic collapse I often get - illness, injury, fatigue, etc. I'd love a set of tools that would like me evaluate when I'm pushing hard vs. pushing too hard. It's hard to back off without a solid set of criteria of what too much is.

I like the dot test, for a starter. And I always use certain exercises as benchmarks, but it's nice to read a good explanation of what a respected coach uses and why.

Danny John
06-22-2008, 08:52 AM
Good to see the discussion. One of you, David, I think, makes a good point about strongman and competing. He's right. So what? I have played a football season which five pieces of my left elbow broken off and I didn't miss a down. If I wanted to play, well, I had to play.

There is a point in the article about medium, medium and medium tedium. Many of you who don't compete in sports with Power Law (thank you Arthur) can play forever with medium. Track is a sport where you really have to take into account this odd CNS fatigue we discuss. When I make a little joke about not getting tired snatching PVC, people get all pissed, but there is a point here: top end elite level training does whack the CNS. And that is probably BS, too, on my part, I really don't know what the hell I am talking about on this, but everybody who does high end training agrees 100%.

Yesterday, we talked (I'm at discus camp in Ohio) and we all came to the same conclusion about the emotions of track. Again, this means little to some of you, but one or two of you will be nodding along here. I prep my athletes for weeks about two things for the state meet: the feeling of being "alone" and the long waits between throws and jumps. No one gives a damn that you threw 80% of the state champs mark for thirty reps in two minutes. And the funny thing is that there are usually a few kids who threw farther in the warm ups than the state champ threw in the meet.

So, be certain to always remember that my articles come from a certain framework. There was a line or two edited out of the article tying the point about my squat and the four decades of competition and injury. Note that I also competed this weekend, winning the Brian Oldfield Highland Games.

A fun photo from the weekend:http://www.davedraper.com/fusionbb/fbbuploads/1214105204-LX015153.JPG

Dave Van Skike
06-23-2008, 11:29 AM
thanks for that Dan.

I hear what you're saying, I have no useful experience in track and field but I do have a lot of depth with people who spend too much time whining about the 20%

what to eat,
when to eat,
i'm too tired,
i'm too fat,
i'm too skinny

and never do dick about the 80%, which in my mind is made up of equal parts

too bad and deal with it.

Gant Grimes
06-23-2008, 01:59 PM
Did anyone tap away this morning?

JW, that wouldn't be the first time I've head that description of DJ as supposed to be coming from that source.

Yes. But I disposed of the evidence.