Volume manipulation to avoid nervous system overload

Written by: Sam Theyers – Head of Fitness, Anytime Fitness Australia

Overtraining is extremely common in the gym. The fitness enthusiast often gets too focused on how much they are doing, fails to get adequate rest and eventually their body gives in and they come down with illness and/or injury.

One of the reasons this happens is due to consistent overloading of the body. We fall into the trap of smashing the body day in day out and although we think we can handle it, the nervous system simply can’t.

Often we feel that we rest enough because we change the target muscle groups on alternate days, however we forget that the nervous system doesn’t get the same rest because it is working overtime every single day.

There are a number of ways we can avoid this and the simplest way is to have light days and heavy days in the gym, however this is hard for the fitness enthusiast to do because an easy session can feel like a wasted day. A great way to control the nervous system overload is to cycle the sets, reps and rest on specific muscle groups on different weeks without compromising intensity. Below is an example:
 

 

Week 1- Push/Pull/Leg Split-

Session 1: Push Exercises- 5 sets, 15 reps, 45sec rests @ 65% 1RM

Session 2: Pull Exercises- 4 sets, 12 reps, 60 sec rests @ 75% 1RM

Session 3: Legs- 3 sets, 8 reps, 90 sec rests @ 85% 1RM
Week 2- Push/Pull/Leg Split

Session 1: Push Exercises- 3 sets, 8 reps, 90 sec rests @ 85% 1RM

Session 2: Pull Exercises- 5 sets, 15 reps, 45sec rests @ 65% 1RM

Session 3: Legs- 4 sets, 12 reps, 60 sec rests @ 75% 1RM
Week 3- Push/Pull/Leg Split

Session 1: Push Exercises- 4 sets, 12 reps, 60 sec rests @ 75% 1RM

Session 2: Pull Exercises- 3 sets, 8 reps, 90 sec rests @ 85% 1RM

Session 3: Legs- 5 sets, 15 reps, 45sec rests @ 65% 1RM
Although the intensities of the above sessions are still high, the volume is adjusted as well as the rest periods. Provided the adequate rest is applied, nervous system overload should be kept at bay without the fitness enthusiast leaving the gym feeling like their sessions are too easy.


Sam Theyers – Head of Fitness, Anytime Fitness Australia