Why can't a novice sprinter tax his CNS?

Charlie has stated that a novice sprinter cannot tax his CNS no matter how hard he tries… WHY is that? Furthermore, does this mean that a novice sprinter can sprint as often as he wants provided that his muscles are fresh?

There are many ways a novice sprinter can taxt their CNS. But you have to a gree that a Ferarri taxes its egine, tires, etc far more than a toyota. Resistance training can cause anyone to tax their system if the weight is heavy enough.

So this idea is based on the assumption that a novice sprinter will not be fast enough to really torch his CNS?

Perhaps a better way to think of it is that a novice can’t tax his CNS more than the muscles he currently has.

I see. Thank you Charlie.

So, muscular fatigue will set in before the CNS gets torched?

not happy to admit it, but I’m not extreemly fast. Fit, good at most sports, but not extreemly fast at running. I sometimes feel like I can lift and sprint everyday, as long as I’ve had enough sleep and good nutrition.

What if you’re dealing with someone who is just exceptionally slow? Someone who just doesn’t have the FT fibers to recruit in the first place? Can this person ever tax his CNS?

And what about females? A female athlete obviously has less fibers to recruit than a male athlete of a similar caliber, so is sprinting less taxing on the CNS of the female athlete?

I second this question. If you’re running very slowly, can you still tax your CNS?

I’ve just come back from an injury and being in the middle of my sporting season, I need to get back to top speed as soon as possible. Right now I’m running something like 4.5 sec for 30m!! Can I train speed on consequtive days to quickly get my speed back up to scratch as long as the muscles receive full recovery?

At what performance level does the CNS take longer to recover than the muscles?

The best way to train is also the fastest way to improve. Even if you’ve had an injury, you should follow your plan. Don’t change everything in a rush to get back or you may find yourself out with another injury.
If you could sprint hard every day, why wouldn’t you do that all the time- injured or not? Sometimes, after an injury, the speed volume does go up because the distance over which you accelerate is initially shorter, leading to less CNS fatigue, but things soon get back to normal.

Charlie covers CNS fatigue in his training manual. You need to be able to get damn close to your max capacity to really blow your nervous system. I mostly lift now, less sprint work. I can tell you that 2 neural seesions in a row can screw me up for a week.

Heres the test to see if youve taxed your CNS enough. Get a piece of paper, and write your name on it. If you can write your name perfectly, you didn’t tax your CNS…lol

though it’s an old post, I’ve a question. Approx 3-4 days before a really big championship meet I did some 5x200’s with 29 seconds rest, but I ran the 200’s in 27-28 seconds, which is 10 seconds faster than my best 800, and only 2 seconds off my 400m best. 5x200 wasn’t too much volume for that point in the season, and I really only started to get that nasty gut/head pain in the last 100m of the 5th 200. It felt a lot like my CNS was strained the next day. my reaction was slow and I felt generally burnt out.

Could it have been CNS burnout?


I have two daughters, one eight years old and one is nine. Are you saying that since they are so young and obviously too slow and not developed enough, that they CANNOT tax their CNS no matter what they do? Also, if this is the case, hypothetically could I give them short speed work (10m-40m) everyday of the week (Monday through Friday) and they would be fine? Thoughts?

All I know is that my CNS got hammered yesterday. I woke up 5 hours early and was hungry as hell.

You can tax your CNS in a lot of ways other than sprinting. So take that into account. When you’re slower, you’re at less a risk of burning out because the amount of fatigue per session is not as high.

Ok, I have to disagree with some of the posts here.

  1. Dagoverner, It is true that children have a faster recovery rate than adults between taxing events…say sprints, normally a child will recover very quickly from aerobic or anaerobic stimuli. A couple of things to remember is (a)that kids get bored with stuff very quickly, and (b) kids will generally not be able to tolerate a high volume of work (and shouldn’t) due to psychological and physical fatigue. So doing things more frequent with less volume would be my way to teach a child a skill.

  2. However, teaching frequently may impare future gains due to lack of interest and staleness, so if you do teach them speed work frequently it has to be very very different. Things like accelerating from a crawling position or lying position, various agility drills, all these should be used. I wouldn’t do the same specific skill in the same week twice. Try to be broad.

  3. I think the question of a novice athlete not being able to tax the CNS properly has more to do with skill coordination being the limiting factor. If the athlete does not have proper sprinting technique, when doing speed workouts a large amount of CNS taxing will be from inproper contraction of muscles (background noise) and incorrect timing, no doubt this still creates a large amount of CNS stim, but, it WILL NOT be large amount of CNS stim that is directly related to the very intricate timing required to run at very high speeds. I think this is the point Charlie was trying to make (correct me if I’m wrong Charlie).

  4. Eventually as the novice athlete becomes more skilled with his/her movements, the coordination becomes so much better that the CNS taxing that is being stressed EXACTLY resembles that of sprinting maximally. Therefore, the CNS stress in novice athletes (is still there, but) isn’t neccessarily making them faster, its making them more coordinated. Once the highest level of coordination is reached, THEN the CNS stress can make the athlete faster. Sound ok?

I understand what you’re saying. But to repeat my original question, if I were to hypothetically have them do speed work Monday through Friday (assuming it is arranged in different ways to prevent staleness and boredom), are you saying they would NOT fry their CNS?

Another question I have. . .

As a girls high school coach, I have quite a few athletes that come in as freshman (13-14 years old). Some of them have never previously ran track before. For example, some of the true beginners run between 14.xx - 16.xx in the 100m. So having said that, can I give these athletes speed work (10m-40m range) on a daily basis pretty much all season long if I wanted to with no problems in an attempt to develop their speed? Thoughts?

I think you could try this, but I doubt they would be enthusiastic after the second day in a row. It’s quality we are after, and as long as we remember that, based on time, if they can keep hitting quality performances and the volume is kept low, it might be worth a try. But the 13-14 yr.olds = puberty, once you start dealing with prepubescent or adolescent young adults, they no long have that superior fast recovery rate. They are becoming less coordinated during this time as they are not accustomed to their newly found body sizes, and there strength to bodyweight ratios decrease dramatically during initial stages of puberty.

I would concentrate on speed as a skill during the childs years (~7-12), focusing on acceleration and agility. After the age of 12, the program can become a little more structured, but the last thing you want to do is get them burnt out before they can even start the real speed work (~15-21 years) and performance peaking (~22-27) of coarse these ages are not set in stone. At 14 these kids are not even coordinated enough to perform any real speed work, they need to be tought a base of many introductory coordination/ agility drills (i.e. field day, shot throws, med ball drills, skipping, fun relays, obstacle courses).

About frying the CNS…they would most likely get injured before you noticed any real performance decriment due to CNS fatigue. Since no real coordination exists, form and posture would most likely not be a good indicator of CNS disruption. The body does have biofeedback in other ways, so aches, colds, performance decrement, sore joints, lack of enthusiam, would indicate the CNS is too taxed. The body should be looked at holistically, ANS is divided into it’s three subunits: sympathetic, parasympathetic, and enteric nervous system. This complex biofeedback could have the manifest of poor performance not only in physical track performance, but also in normal bodily functions and daily routines. Hope this helps Gov!