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Understanding Muscle Fatigue and its Impact on Weight

Updated: Aug 9, 2023


In the world of weight training, achieving muscle growth and strength gains is a common goal. But have you ever wondered what happens when you push yourself to failure during a set? In this blog post, we'll delve into the concepts of muscle fatigue and central nervous fatigue, and how they play a crucial role in your weight training journey.

Muscle Fatigue vs. Central Nervous Fatigue:

Person X had a question for Helder regarding the different types of fatigue encountered during weight training.

Helder explained that two types of fatigue come into play: muscle fatigue and central nervous fatigue. Muscle fatigue, also known as peripheral fatigue, is the desired outcome when aiming for muscle growth. When you reach muscular failure due to peripheral fatigue, you're effectively recruiting all the motor units in the primary muscle being worked. On the other hand, central nervous fatigue occurs when the central nervous system's ability to produce force diminishes, impacting your strength output.

Causes of Central Nervous Fatigue:

Person X was curious about what could lead to higher levels of central nervous fatigue. Helder explained that while central nervous fatigue occurs during various workouts, it tends to be more pronounced in aerobic exercises. When it comes to weight lifting, central nervous fatigue becomes more significant during exercises that involve longer durations of muscle contractions with lighter to moderate weights (typically 10 reps or more). This insight highlights the importance of selecting appropriate weights and rep ranges to manage central nervous fatigue. Helder emphasized a preference for heavier weights in the 5 to 8 rep range to mitigate central nervous fatigues impact.

Role of Rest Periods:

Rest periods between sets also play a crucial role in managing central nervous fatigue. Helder clarified that central nervous fatigue decreases rapidly within a set, especially towards the end. However, when rest periods are short, central nervous fatigue can accumulate, affecting subsequent sets and potentially hindering muscle growth. Helder's recommendation is to take longer rest periods, around 3 to 5 minutes, between sets to allow for recovery and minimize central nervous fatigues negative impact.

Exercise Order and Muscle Fatigue:

The conversation then turned to exercise order's significance in relation to central nervous fatigue and muscle growth. Helder explained that as workouts progress, central nervous fatigue tends to increase. This insight sheds light on why longer workouts and excessive volume don't necessarily translate to more muscle growth. Additionally, exercise order can impact muscle growth due to varying levels of central nervous fatigue. Helder advised considering exercise order carefully to optimise muscle growth.

Conclusion and Takeaways:

Understanding the interplay between muscle fatigue and central nervous fatigue is essential for effective weight training. Striking a balance between the two is key to achieving your desired muscle growth and strength goals. Remember, heavier weights with fewer reps, adequate rest periods, and thoughtful exercise order can all contribute to managing central nervous fatigue and maximizing your results.

As you continue on your weight training journey, keep in mind the insights shared in this blog post. By harnessing the knowledge of muscle fatigue and central nervous fatigue, you can make informed decisions that lead to more effective and rewarding workouts.

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