Care for your CNS Too
Written by Carl Alfonso
“Your CNS is so hot right now!” I doubt you’ve ever told someone that, or heard it being said.
Let’s not kid ourselves, human beings are geared to focus on aesthetics. From the way we dress, to what colour car we drive to which restaurant we choose to eat our meat and veg at. This next statement may be completely untrue for you but I tend to think it holds true for most. CrossFit refocuses our efforts (especially at the box), within a short period of time, to perform well at a broad range of functional movements. We start to think more about our 1 rep max snatch or “Fran” time than how big our biceps are. Looking good simply becomes an affect – a marvelous byproduct of our efforts. This is a great change in mindset but we’ve only begun to scratch the surface.
Every time you decide to move your body there are several things happening. Your brain deciding you need/want to move, your central nervous system telling your muscles to move and finally your muscles contracting to move your body.
You come to CrossFit three to five times a week so you are definitely moving and your brain must be deciding that you need/want to move but what about the connection – the central nervous system.
I’m certain you experienced huge gains as an athlete within your first few months at CrossFit Jozi. We’d like to think this was all down to the amazing talent of the CrossFit Jozi coaching staff but we’d be mistaken, your central nervous system is Head Coach.
When performing functional movements (squats), lifting heavy (front squats) and learning complex movement patterns (squat clean), we get better at the skill of recruiting our muscles. Your Central Nervous System (CNS) is how your brain tells motor neurons and fibers to fire at a certain rate and intensity. Your CNS ensures proper muscle coordination and gets more efficient and effective at sending messages from our brains to our muscles.
Our muscles switch on faster.
We don’t only get stronger because our muscles get bigger, we get stronger because we have improved the skill of recruiting and utilizing our muscles. Our central nervous system is able to transmit signals from our brain to our muscles more rapidly, efficiently and effectively.
In order to become a better athlete, an athlete that is great at as broad a range of skills as possible, means challenging your mind, central nervous system and muscles. This is why we squat, why we lift light and heavy, and why we drill skills and complex movement patterns constantly. Your central nervous system is constantly being challenged to do more and in more variety. This makes you strong, makes you a better athlete, and believe it or not, what ultimately makes you look good!
Everyone has felt stiffness and soreness in their muscles at some point in time, but have you ever had a challenging day at the box, gone to work and not been able to type properly. This may be because you held onto that kettlebell a little too tightly, but it could also mean that you’re experiencing a symptom of central nervous system fatigue. Yes that’s right, your CNS can also experience fatigue!
Rest is important, not only for your mind and muscles but to ensure that your central nervous system has time to rest and recover too. Your beauty sleep may be more of a CNS sleep but they are one and the same.
So back to the aesthetics, remember that what makes us strong is not always visibly apparent. Our central nervous system plays a major role in our success as athletes and requires just as much if not more rest and recovery than our muscles do. So care for your CNS too. Sleep at least seven to eight hours a night, get enough quality Omega-3 fish oils in, turn out the blue lights (phone, computer, tablet, TV) well before bed, and sleep in as dark a room as possible. And if in training you’re feeling constantly sluggish, take some time off.
Every 90 seconds for 10 rounds:
5 hang power snatch
No TnG so you can focus on basic mechanics
COB kipping pull-up OR deadhang band pull-up ONLY
7 rounds of 8 reps w/ 30 sec rest BETWEEN rounds
LEVEL 2 & 3
Every 90 seconds for 10 rounds:
5 TnG hang power snatch (AHAFP)
The goal here is to practise catching the bar back at hang to straight in to the next rep
7 rounds of 8 reps with 40 sec rest BETWEEN rounds
During Test Week we test your fitness, as opposed to training or practising. There are several reasons behind implementing test weeks:
- To test the breadth of your fitness, and therefore expose the weaknesses in your fitness.
- To test your ability to maintain good mechanics in the test condition.
- To test your mental fortitude when being worked at the boundaries of your comfort and experience.
- To test the effectiveness and efficacy of our program, the results of which drive the development of the future program.
- To give you benchmarks against which you track your progress.
Given the testing environment the volume of work you do is relatively small. However, intensity is at its peak. Your CNS is therefore under a lot of stress. That means you have to approach the week smartly.
- You might not achieve a PB everyday. It’s not the end of the world. Accept, learn, and move on.
- When you do achieve a PB, celebrate it! Ring the bell and record it on the PB board.
- When testing barbell abilities, stop once you achieve your PB. That means, don’t go for another attempt after hitting your PB. Consolidate your attempt.
- Remember, we’re also testing your ability to maintain good mechanics. So focus first on your mechanics.
- Completing the full week of testing will be extremely demanding, both mentally and physically. Listen to your body. If you’re feeling beat up, take the day off. You’ll have another opportunity to test whatever it is you miss on that day.
- Stay well fueled and hydrated throughout the week.
- Have your Omega 3 fish oils. (I’ll be writing about those later this week)
- Mobilise as often as you can. When you wake up, before training, after training, every hour at work.
- Don’t be stupid. Don’t max out if you’re injured to the extent that a max effort will aggravate the problem. This will cost you in training time, and possibly time off of work if you’re ultra-stupid.
- Don’t be greedy. Learn to recognize the difference between greed and ambition, and be merely ambitious.
- Don’t be pig-headed. If your first attempt tells you that you need to lower your second, do so, without a misplaced sense of diminished self-worth.
- It’s not just about your and your mates, it’s about the progress of the entire community. So motivate each other, and celebrate everyone’s achievements.
It’s a test, and it’s designed to measure what’s there, not create something that’s not.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHAN STEGMAN, RUDI HOHLS & SONIA DA SILVA!!!
20 minutes to est. a 1RM
15 minutes to est. a 1RM
Max rep burpee in 1 minute
For A & B, athletes here for less than 3 months to test 3RM
Today’s post comes from CrossFit Invictus. It talks about the theoretical four stages of learning. It’s a good read and will give you some understanding about the stage of development that lead to the mastering of a skill.
The Four Stages of Learning
Written by Calvin Sun
There are four basic stages of learning any new skill: unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, conscious competence, and unconscious competence. Being aware of what stage you are in allows you to seek the proper coaching and internalize information in a way that will help you advance to the next stage of development and ultimately allow you to attain mastery of a skill. A skilled coach is able to quickly identify where you stand as an athlete and knows exactly how to progress you to the next level.
Stage 1 – Unconscious Incompetence
Stage 1 is where everyone starts, regardless of what skill they are learning. Unfortunately, many coaches teach assuming their athlete is already at stage 2, “conscious incompetence”, and waste time and energy trying to advance their athlete when really they are still stuck at the “unconscious incompetence” stage.
Here are some criteria that distinguish “unconscious incompetence”:
- The athlete is not aware of the existence or relevance of the skill area.
- The athlete is not aware that they have a particular deficiency in the area concerned.
- The athlete might deny the relevance or usefulness of the new skill.
- No development or learning of the skill can occur because the athlete lacks awareness of their inability.
- The focus of the athlete and the coach is to move the athlete into the “conscious competence” stage by demonstrating the skill and the benefit that it will bring to the their game.
The goal of coaching at Stage 1 is to help the athlete understand the importance and benefit of developing the skill being taught. If the athlete does not see the value of learning the skill and isn’t aware that they are deficient, it is very unlikely the athlete will put any appreciable effort towards learning the skill.
For example, the basic squat is taught to beginners because it is a cornerstone movement and many more complex exercises build upon this one movement. It is the coach’s job to educate the novice athlete on why this movement is important to learn as well as show them where they are currently deficient. Stage 1 is not limited to novice athletes. Athletes who are considered “advanced” will likely start at Stage 1 with a new skill but quickly move to Stage 2.
Stage 2 – Conscious Incompetence
Stage 2 is where the athlete begins to really learn the skill that is being taught. Some criteria that distinguish stage 2:
- The athlete becomes aware of the existence and relevance of the skill.
- The athlete is also aware of their deficiency in this area, typically by attempting or trying to perform the skill.
- There is an appreciation for the value of learning the skill and the athlete realizes that by improving their skill or ability in this area their overall game will improve.
- There is measurable level of ability that is established and the goal is to progress to the level of skill required for the athlete to achieve competence.
- The athlete makes a commitment to learn and practice the new skill, and to move to the “conscious competence” stage.
Stage 2 is where reality sets in for the athlete. An athlete who once thought of himself as very strong and athletic is now humbled by a simple handstand. Or perhaps, someone who thought of herself as flexible now realizes that she struggles to perform a proper overhead squat due to poor mobility. Progression to stage 3, “conscious competence”, usually occurs fairly quickly if the athlete is working with a skilled coach. Factors that may slow the progression include injury, lack of mobility, and lack of strength. The transition from Stage 2 to Stage 3 is obvious as the athlete will be able to perform the skill on command.
Stage 3 – Conscious Competence
Stage 3 comprises the majority of an athlete’s training time in the pursuit of skill development. At this stage, the athlete can reliably perform the skill, but requires a great deal focus and concentration in order to perform. Here are some criteria for Stage 3:
- The athlete can reliably perform the skill at will.
- The skill is difficult, if not impossible, without concentrating and thinking about it.
- The athlete can perform the skill without assistance.
- The skill is not yet “second nature” or “automatic”.
- The athlete might be able to demonstrate the skill, but is unlikely to be able to teach it well to another person.
- Ideally, the athlete continuously practices the new skill and, if appropriate, commits to becoming “unconsciously competent” at the new skill.
For example, Olympic weightlifting is a common skill set where you will find that most athletes spend a great deal of time in the “conscious competence” stage. It takes years and years of focused practice to develop an instinctual ability to perform these lifts.
Frequent, deliberate practice is the most effective way to move from stage 3 to stage 4. Athletes who struggle to move to “unconscious competence” might be practicing the skill inconsistently or, in some cases, might need a new coach with a higher level of teaching ability to help them fine tune the skill and increase their understanding.
Stage 4 – Unconscious Competence
Stage 4 is where the athlete has practiced and drilled the skill so much that it has now become “second nature”. There is little to no concentration required to perform the skill. For most adults, driving a car is a skill that is an example of Stage 4. Here are some distinguishing criteria:
- The skill becomes so practiced that it enters the unconscious parts of the brain.
- It can be possible to for a Stage 4 skill to be performed while performing another task. For example, talking to a passenger while driving a car or communicating with a teammate while performing kipping pull-ups.
- The athlete might now be able to teach others in the skill, however they may experience difficulty in explaining how they do it as the movement is now largely instinctual.
- Practice, or frequent exposure, is required to maintain this level of skill. Taking a prolonged break can result in regression to a lower stage.
“Unconscious competence” is the final stage of learning, though it can be a highly perishable stage depending on the type of skill that is being discussed. Another issue at Stage 4 is that the athlete can become somewhat complacent in their abilities. As new standards arise, the athlete and coach may need to revisit certain skills and determine if there might need to be some work done in order to improve the skill to meet new standards.
For CrossFit athletes, there can be dozens of skills to maintain in order to be an effective competitor. A good coach will structure a program that progresses an athlete to “unconscious competence” in most skills without compromising other relevant skills and abilities. For example, a coach should not focus their athlete’s training on improving Olympic weightlifting to the point where gymnastic skills, such as pull-ups and muscle-ups, are sacrificed and regress to a lower stage. Just remember, the development of any skill set requires good coaching and lots of practice.
You can find the original article HERE.
That you CrossFit Invictus for always publishing such valuable information!
All groups are going progressive on the push press today. The progressive format is programmed to having you working up to close to your maximum abilities for the day. This, coupled with the lower volume of reps, preferentially stimulates the CNS over the muscular system. This results in a faster recovery time after the session. CNS stimulation and fast recovery are just what you need in the lead up to Test Week.
For the TGU you can either go sets across or progressive. We use the TGU because it’s one of the kings of midline and shoulder stability development, it demands good shoulder flexibility, and it develops coordination, balance and agility. The single KB carry is in there just to make you uncomfortable!
5 rounds of:
3 TGU/arm (AHAFP)
After every round carry one KB for 200m
Posts tagged with ‘CNS’