View Full Version : CNS relaxing between lifts in comp -- what to do?

Emily Mattes
05-15-2010, 11:23 AM
There is a distressing pattern going on with my CNS at my weightlifting meets. I finish my snatches, go back to the warm-up area, and my CNS promptly relaxes and I have an overwhelming urge to sleep. This is seriously dragging my cleans down.

What do you recommend to pop the CNS back up again? So far I've tried eating more (at the meet today I had sweet potato, zucchini, tomatoes, eggs, and ground beef mixed together) and taking a caffeine pill. It's not helping. Do you have any other suggestions?

Mark Fenner
05-15-2010, 04:03 PM
I've got a few ideas. None of them are field tested. I also have a theory but I'll have to run it past the biologist in the family.

[Ok. My wife's first thoughts were more along the lines of borderline anemia. More generally, she was thinking in terms of glucose+oxygen getting to the brain (resulting from decreased blood flow, lack of iron, etc.). However, she wanted to know if this also occurs in training. You might also try to check your blood pressure to make sure it isn't falling out on you. She also asked about time-of-month issues.]

Here's the theory: your parasympathetic nervous system (aka rest-and-digest) is taking over after you substantially draw on your sympathetic nervous system (aka fight-and-flight). So, your goal is to lower (minimize?) the PNS reaction to your SNS. Meet time diet might help. Maybe DrG could comment on that. What else can we do?

(1) Get more used to the reaction of the PNS.
(2) Use less SNS in your lifts.

For (1), I guess you could pursue some high adrenaline activities. Who knew that BASE jumping could help with lifting. Kidding aside, do you use substantial mental arousal techniques (psyching)? If so, you might try lessening them. If you don't, you might try using some relaxation techniques. (Maybe you are too aroused. Arousal actually forms a curve in relationship to performance. Too low/too high and performance is sub-optimal. You can think of it in terms of stage fright: too aroused to move.) Do you have performance anxiety?

If repeated snatch attempts keep adding to your arousal level (SNS), you might do some light things that stimulate your PNS to keep things at a moderate level. Some deep breathing, "shaking water off your limbs" (looks silly, feels great, reduces residual tension), positive visualization that isn't necessarily aggressive.

In terms of training, you might consider trying to hit given weights with as little effort as possible. I know Dan John has written about taking a throw and them trying to match it as effortlessly as possible. That might have application here. You might also look for other training tools that elicit a strong SNS component so you have a test environment outside of your competition lifts.

I'm woefully ignorant here, but would you actually have time for a 15 minute nap post-snatch portion of the competition? There's a concept called the "caff-nap": shoot some espresso. Throw yourself into a quick nap. Get up. Some folks swear by it.

Promoting digestion will increase the draw on the PNS. So, we're thinking that isn't a great idea.

Mark (& Barb)

Garrett Smith
05-15-2010, 04:43 PM
Do you regularly do both main lifts together in training?

Do you psych up often on heavy lifts?

Steven Low
05-15-2010, 06:57 PM
Most of the time I have seen this phenomena are with people who are overtrained or are extremely stressed. The body just can't sustain maxes anymore and starts to shut down afterwards.

Not saying you are but it could be something to look at.

Jay Ashman
05-15-2010, 07:21 PM
one suggestion that maybe you can take from the PL circuit, and I am sure it has been tried before, but did you ever think of huffing ammonia caps?

Maybe that is a worthless suggestion but I know that whenever I used them in the past I was pretty damn ready to go...

May be worth a shot.

Emily Mattes
05-15-2010, 08:07 PM
Not only do I get incredibly psyched up and nervous for competitions, but I've been putting myself through a lot the past month competition-wise and that has made me even more nervous during lifting. And yeah, on top of that I do get performance anxiety, though I'm getting better at that.

Also I do both lifts in training only about once a week, though for the past couple of weeks in between the various meets I've been competing at I've been doing them together more often.

Overtraining is a definite possibility, I've been going to meets about once a week for a month now.

So . . . I guess all of the above to give me something to think about. (Though I haven't tried the ammonia caps, I guess that's an option Jay!)

Garrett Smith
05-15-2010, 08:10 PM
You are overtrained. Call it adrenal fatigue, whatever. You have a hole to dig yourself out of that involves less, not more.

You need to get out of the competition loop for a while.

Jay Ashman
05-15-2010, 08:30 PM
I have to agree with Garrett here, sounds like classic overtraining.

And try those caps, they work wonders.

Steven Low
05-15-2010, 09:35 PM
Take a couple weeks off...

Will Peterson
05-16-2010, 05:38 AM

So of the other members my know your back story better, but idea of just taking some downtime is simply impractical for some -- whether you have put in too much work for this season or competing is simply what you do and what you associate yourself with.

If you have a couple of key events on the calendar, you may be able to experiment a bit with other meets to try some new ideas as training will never trigger that anxiety. My main background is as a cyclist and late lifting convert, but I have had very similar periods that have ruined large events. The key was rest. I don't know how your events are setup, but I would have periods of the year where there was something every weekend for 2.5 to 3 months. The only way to thrive was one workout per week if I was healthy and recovering well. If I sick, getting small infections easily, etc, I would recover through the week for the next event.

This would translate to something like with meets on Sunday:
event Sunday
rest Mon
light form work tues
max effort work wedns
light form thurs
rest fri
event prep sat
compete sun

Never underestimate the intensity of competing and the benefits that can be had from recovery.

Garrett Smith
05-16-2010, 06:27 AM
Will's last line there is gold.

Oh yeah...it's not your CNS "relaxing"...it's that it has nothing left at the moment to keep you revved up.

Sounds like one thing you'll need to train to do is not have to get so psyched up for lifts...that really takes a lot out of a person if it is done multiple times a week.