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My Experience with Overtraining and CNS Fatigue

Overtraining and CNS Fatigue – Does it Really Exist?

Overtraining and CNS fatigue has been debated ever since I’ve been interested in health and fitness. The opinions on it are totally polarised.

In this article I’m going to look at overtraining and CNS fatigue to understand more about them both and provide information on what to look out for and how to avoid it.


One camp (usually the old-school powerlifters with more injuries than brain cells) vehemently argue that overtraining and CNS fatigue doesn’t exist. In their opinion, overtraining is something only pussies experience.

It’s funny – the people who sit in this camp often use performance enhancing drugs, so of course they’re less likely to suffer from it; they’re injecting chemicals with the sole aim of improving performance!

The other camp believe in it absolutely. These are people who seek to balance work with rest to improve health alongside performance.

Is overtraining and CNS fatigue simply a case of under-recovering?

Overtraining is relative to the individual – some people can cope with more than others.

Some people are born with a higher work capacity; there are schools of thought that suggest this is down to their mitochondrial (the energy factories in cells) density, or a higher red blood cell count, their hormone levels or their muscle make up (more fast twitch than slow twitch fibres for example). Whatever the reason, our work capacities vary across the board.

What is clear though is that work capacity is quite a fluid concept – it can be manipulated by training history, supplementation, rest, drug use etc. You can improve your work capacity through training and nutrition and you can reduce your work capacity through no training and poor nutrition.

Staying strictly legal, the best improver of work capacity (and therefore reducing the risk of overtraining) is to train correctly and frequently for a long period of time. Only at a point of around 9 months would I be comfortable upping the volume of a personal training clients programme, for example. Of course this rule isn’t set in stone, but it’s a solid guideline.

It largely depends on a persons training history – if they’re newer to exercise, their probably more susceptible overtraining.

So whats the mechanism – what is overtraining and Central nervous system fatigue (CNS fatigue)?

Overtraining: Training at a rate an intensity and volume that you can’t adequately recover from. Once your training load exceeds your body’s ability to replenish and recover from it, you enter a state of overtraining. It’s a burnout that’s often experienced via tiredness, decreased motivation to train, lower energy levels.

CNS Fatigue: A slightly more difficult phenomenon to describe, but essentially CNS fatigue occurs when progressive overload and training has led to a neurotransmitter release and use rate that your body can’t keep up with. It effects sports performance by compromising muscle firing patterns and movement quality, i.e. skills and movements are more difficult to execute. The effects are more flu-like.

What’s the difference?

Overtraining is actually a relatively simple thing to recover from. By resting and recovering, you should be able to repair and restore your body sufficiently enough to exercise again quickly. Most people will recover enough within 4-5 days of rest and better nutrition.

CNS fatigue is slightly different and may take more time to recover from. It’s usually caused by more complex movement exercises and is really common in strength sports where a lot of the training is done approaching maximum levels of strength, such as Weight Lifting and Power Lifting. In this case, recovery is best viewed as a resting and supplementation-based protocol and may take slightly longer, at around 7-10 days.

What are the symptoms of CNS Fatigue and Overtraining?

CNS Fatigue Symptoms

  • Head aches
  • Joint aches (specifically joints, not muscles)
  • Poor skill execution – inconsistent execution of skills you can do
  • Lower energy
  • Poor sleep quality – disturbed sleep
  • Lower motivation
  • Flu-like feelings (without the blocked nose)
  • Fever
  • Forgetfulness
  • Low concentration

Overtraining Symptoms

  • Prolonged muscle fatigue
  • Reduced immunity
  • Decreased workout performance
  • Increased injury frequency
  • Tiredness
  • Waking up feeling sleepy
  • Craving high calorie foods
  • Needing to snack often
  • Slower illness/injury recovery

There will be commonalities between the two and you may be suffering from some of those symptoms despite not suffering from CNS fatigue or overtraining.

Diagnosing A Case…

One of the problems with (for want of a better word) ‘diagnosing’ overtraining and CNS fatigue is that they are situational, so a best guess is the best you can come up with for saying you’ve overtrained or your central nervous system is fatigued. You can be suffering from a number of these symptoms and trace the onset of them back to an extended period of particularly hard training.

There are basic indicators such as HRV (heart rate variability) monitors. Typically if you are still in a state of recovery, your heart rate will be higher than usual.

Some heart rate monitor apps with also tell you how long you should be resting post workout, so at a basic level that may be helpful – you’ll know if you’ve ignored the recovery suggestions for long enough you may be overtrained.

If you have the time or inclination, you can have blood work done to assess neurotransmitter levels and inflammatory blood markers such as CRP (C-Reactive Protein). These are the most accurate test, but are only really necessary in extreme cases. Almost any level of overtraining and CNS fatigue can be overcome with adequate recovery protocols.

It’s important to understand that if you are suffering from any of the symptoms listed above and you haven’t trained any harder than usual, you should explore those independently.

nitric oxide, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, overtraining and cns fatigue

Recovering from Overtraining and CNS Fatigue

When you have established you have overtrained or have CNS fatigue, you need to take steps to address the problem from the ground up – begin by not making the problem worse.

Recovering from Overtraining

  • Stop exercising. At most, go for a walk.
  • Stretch – stay supple.
  • Rest as much as you can – have early nights, sleep deeply – use herbal sleep aids if required.
  • Take 1-2 weekly saunas – improves a number of processes, including circulation which is vital for recovery.
  • Eat a high protein, clean (think natural – rice, potatoes) carbohydrate and vegetable rich diet.
  • Take multivitamins.
  • Drink lots of water – keep your urine clear.

What NOT to do

  • Carry on training, just at a lower intensity (hello, injury)
  • Take pre-workouts to get you through a session if you’re tired. If you’re too tired to train, listen to your body.
  • Just eat more – this over-simplifies the problem and makes it seem as though it’s just a fuel issue. It’s not – this is about hormones, neurotransmitters, tissue health, energy AND nutrition.

Recovering from CNS Fatigue

From my experience, the symptoms of CNS fatigue are a little different to overtraining and need to be treated as such – I suffered from almost cold-like symptoms, without the streaming nose etc. I ached, had difficulty regulating body  temperature etc.

  • Stop exercising. Walk, but nothing more.
  • Increase protein intake.
  • Eat a little carbohydrate, but not too much – a palm-sized portion, twice per day.
  • Take Omega 3’s. I use these – they are large dose so great for replenishment.
  • Take ZMA before bed – it helps with deep, restful sleep. I’m currently on these.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • If possible, avoid (or at least reduce) caffeine intake.

What NOT to do

  • Treat the aches and pains with paracetamol, thinking you’ve got a cold – if you can trace feeling like this to a heavy training programme, it’s unlikely to be a cold (especially if you’re not snotty etc).
  • Eat a low protein diet.
  • Drink alcohol and caffeine – you want to give your body the best chance of recovery and those substances can affect that.

How to avoid overtraining and CNS Fatigue

The first point to mention is that training is an art, not a science. Any training programme is a guideline – it’s not rigid, meaning you should always listen to your body. If you need to take a rest day, take a rest day. If you need to reduce the weights you lift or pick a slightly different exercise, do so.

When putting together your training programme, think about the following…

  • Your goals – if your goals are big, give yourself longer to train for them and allow deload weeks and rest weeks.
  • Your training history – if your training history is short, keep training cycles short (4-5 weeks) and include a rest or deload week then. If it’s longer, maybe go to 6 weeks.
  • Exercise nature – if it’s strength based, you’ll do a lot of heavy lifting. In which case, you’ll need regular rest weeks. Ideally every 6 weeks. If it’s hypertrophy, you can push on longer without rest – maybe 8-10.
  • Adaption – your body needs time to adjust and adapt to the demands of the training, so don’t try to improve every single session. Your aim is to be better by the end of the programme – think longer term.

Following a particularly intense programme, especially if it involves either heavy lifting or a lot of lifting, it’s a good idea to use some supplements. I don’t mean generic supplements, I mean specific supplements that will help you stay healthy.

  • ZMA – helps restful sleep.
  • Fish oil – helps look after joints, among other things.
  • Amino Acids – help with neurotransmitter production (vital for muscle contraction, motivation, mood, concentration etc).

My Experience with CNS Fatigue

I’m writing this post now because I’ve just recovered from a pretty heavy case of CNS fatigue myself. It wasn’t overtraining and I’ll explain why below.

I have been following a weight lifting programme myself. It was 9 week programme, designed to improve weight lifting skill and strength.

It worked. I’m not only technically a better weight lifter, I’m also a stronger weight lifter. I managed PB’s in both of the major lifts, as well as many of the accessory lifts, so I’m happy with that.

The problem was, I did too much. I trained 5 days per week, I didn’t supplement properly, I didn’t rest enough.

First of all, on the 5 days per week thing. Yes, there are people who exercise more than 5 days per week. The difference here though, this was training, not exercising. The difference? Exercise can be non-specific, it’s without purpose. It’s great, but it’s self-limiting – you decide when to stop.

With this, I was training – I was following a plan. It was outcome-based. There was a prescribed number of sets and reps. I did them. On some days, I did more than I should. I now know that this was stupid.

overtraining and cns fatigue

The nature of a weight lifting programme also is that so much of the work is done at very heavy weights – around 75-95% of your 1 rep maximum. Working so close to your maximum capacity for so long is going to have an effect after a while, especially when you consider the exercises are not only heavy, they’re also very complex in terms of their movements, which places more demands on the CNS.

I’m experienced in weight training and I have a long training history behind me, but with weight lifting, I’m new.

I’m learning new skills and was asking my body to do things it hadn’t done before – or certainly not to that level or intensity. Learning new skills, working really hard and not taking adequate rest, it was a recipe for disaster!

When you spend such a long time working so close to your max, then not supplementing to help support it, you are going to stress the central nervous system.

The programme was as follows – 7 weeks of progressive strength training, a deload week where we reduced the weights right down (I didn’t), then a PB week where we maxed out and tried to set new personal best lifts.

I followed the programme (but didn’t deload – I just carried on lifting heavy), then a couple of days after stopping it hit me – the neck ache, the head ache, the joint aches, the hot/cold spells, the constant tiredness etc. I’d read about CNS fatigue, so I read up on it again – yup, I had it!

I wasn’t suffering from a muscle point of view and I had no high calorie food cravings, so I knew it wasn’t simply overtraining.

I checked my resting heart rate (usually mid 50’s) – it was nearly 80. I was tired, but not sleeping well at all. I knew what it was, so I knew what I had to do. I supplemented properly, I’ve been to the sauna twice, I’ve slept better and I haven’t trained.

It’s been 8 days and I’m about to do my first session back in the gym – even that will be basic.

A quick thought on the heart rate data…

The heart rate information is key actually – by keeping an eye on heart rate data you can see patterns, progressions and have a computer algorithm make suggestions as to how much rest and recovery you need. Of course you can always ignore it, but it’s a good idea to have a second pair of eyes on your performance – particularly one that is emotionless, unswayed by opinion and second-guessing. It’s very much a data-driven opinion that you get from a heart rate monitor with app support.

If you’re after a suggestion, I personally think Polar make the best monitors. I use the M400, but the M430 is the updated version. Personally, I love it – I’ve used it for 3 years and think the app support is top drawer…

What would I do differently?

How will I avoid falling into the CNS fatigue trap again? What did I learn and what would I do differently? Here are my thoughts on it…

  1. I’d follow the programme properly. If it called for lighter weights, I’d lift lighter weights. If it called for a deload week, I’d do a deload week.
  2. Now I know the true effects of the training, I’m supplementing regularly – Vitamin D, ZMA and Omega 3 oil before bed.
  3. I’d follow shorter cycles. At this stage of my weight lifting, a 9 week programme is perhaps too long. Perhaps 6-8 weeks may be more appropriate – I’ll have to experiment.

In hindsight, the warning signs were there. Towards the end of the programme, I had a session where I struggled a few times to hit a 70kg snatch (my PB at the time was 80kg). At that point, 70kg wasn’t a big deal to me, so I should have realised then that something wasn’t quite right. I also struggled with overhead squats, again something I’m very used to. My movement quality and muscle firing patterns were off – classic CNS fatigue symptoms.

Every now and then, we need a reminder to reinforce what we already know. Overtraining and CNS fatigue weren’t new to me, and in some ways I’m glad I’ve experienced it so I can avoid it in future and pass on what I’ve learned to you guys.

Remember – you aren’t superhuman. Punish your body for too long and you’ll pay for it. If you’re going to embark on an intense fitness programme, treat your body right. Exercise is supposed to help you, not punish you!

Some updated thinking on the subject…

This is an update to the article that discusses some of the more recent research and thinking around CNS fatigue. It also helps to explain my own symptoms when I suffered from a degree of CNS burnout.

Studies are now showing that short bursts of high intensity exercise aren’t as fatiguing neurally as workouts that last a longer period of time, during which people are expecting their bodies to perform optimally for upwards of an hour.

This is exactly what I was doing in the lead up to my CNS fatigue – I would complete my (sensibly) programmed workouts, then carry on and do more training. I’d do this day after day. My 45-60 minute workouts were becoming 70-90 minute strength training sessions, 5 times per week.

The research shows that training for longer sees muscles fatigue more generally, which in turn leads to a reduction in motor unit recruitment and function. This explains why we see technique and form drop off towards the end of a workout. We knew this anyway, but a little reminder every now and then is a good thing.

The CNS fatigue picture becomes a little more muddied when research is looked into further….

The 2016 study on the subject shows that the CNS can actually recover remarkably quickly to baseline levels post exercise (although its worth pointing out that only the biceps brachii was studied, which is a small muscle and would incur relatively little classic CNS fatigue symptoms), but the peripheral musculature takes a lot longer to recover.

Perhaps here lies the key to sensible training, avoiding CNS fatigue and ensuring adequate recovery.

Following on from the original article, here are a few extra tips to avoid CNS fatigue…

Keep your strength workouts short. Your body is unlikely to cope well with 60+ minutes of heavy strength training multiple times per week. Allow your muscles time to recover – give them a chance and feed them well. Sleep well.

Give yourself a break – your muscles take longer to recover than your CNS, so if you’ve been training hard recently, observe your body. How do exercises ‘feel’? Take heed of the signs and make sure you relax and recover when you need to.

Look to accelerate your recovery with supplemental help beyond the norm. I have experimented with CBD Balm with great success.

CNS fatigue, to whichever degree you understand and believe in it, can seriously affect your training and recovery. Don’t try to be a hero – it’ll cost you in the medium to longer term.

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Owner of Personal Trainer, Father and fitness copy writer. Working hard making the world fitter and healthier!

27 thoughts on “My Experience with Overtraining and CNS Fatigue”

  1. I do not think it was a heavy case of CNS fatigue if you were able to return to the gym after 8 days. I’ve been having the same kind of symptoms for 4 weeks now. Only very slowly it was getting better after 2-3 weeks. Finally I was starting to get 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night again, so I thought I was over it and decided to hit the gym again, using much lower weights. Mistake. It reset me to 0, and now, 1 week after that workout, I still feel like death. Getting way to little sleep again, tired all the time, carrying around a mild but permanent infection.

    People saying a severe case of CNS fatigue would take a week or two to recover from and even claiming it was impossible to reach such a state when only training 4-5 hours a week (not you) is what got me to this point in the first place. I think the whole thing is played down way too often.

  2. Nice comment Jannis. Same to me. 4 weeks after heavy deadlifts i believe that i’m recovered completely because finally i’ve got 8 hours of interrupted sleep and my morning woods were back (absence of morning wood means you are not recovered, supposing you train hard). So, I start a very easy training regimen (not weights): 30 min light walk and a few sets of pushups. What do you think happened? Like Jannis said, reset my recovery to 0 and my sleep was again interrupted, my shoulders joints was in pain, no energy at all, no morning woods (also no libido). Please stop believing all bodybuilders full of shit. Train less, sleep more and live your life.

  3. There’s a lot I agree with here!

    The problem for me is that a lot of bodybuilders are taking PED’s which allow them to train harder, for longer. To those of us without that help, it’s really tough to manage a prolonged level of huge volume.

    Train hard, but rest and recover adequately. It’s worked for me since!


  4. Great information shared. This is the first time I’ve heard of the anything CNS related, very interesting. I generally train only 2 or three times a week with a very loose expectation, just doing as many bodyweight exercises as I can on a given day. So I train very relaxedly without realizing it. I can see where lifting free weights and pushing your maxes this type of thing would really come into play.

  5. To be honest I don’t think it was the method of training (using weights) that was the problem – it was the volume I tried to undertake. Lesson learned though!

  6. This article opened my mind a lot. I’m a professional tennis player (played Davis Cup for my country and the 2019 Panamericans in Lima). December of 2018 i was training for the 2019 season. I was lifting weights and doing 100 meter sprints every other day along with practicing on the court. I came down crashing a month later with that program because it was way too intense and I had lots of trouble sleeping. Plus I was going out with friends on weekends. It stressed me out and I wasn’t happy. During Christmas I got the flu and sore throat very badly and never went to the doctor because i just never go. I recovered after about 6 days in bed and went to my first series of tournaments in January but feeling horrible. My mood was horrible and i was very depressed. Anyways I played a couple of tournaments and wasn’t the same. I took a week off and came back to the sport but still i was battling fatigue after about 1 hour of intensity. This continued till about early June 2019. I knew there was something wrong when my legs were starting to feel achy, extremely fatigued, weak, stale, burning and just crushed. I kept trying to push. I went to the doctor and everything was fine. Fast forward to September i got a 4th blood test that summer and it turned out I had mono. I decided to post pone everything to do with tennis and focus on my health. I’m still struggling with energy, and my legs feel so heavy, numb, fatigued, worn out all the time. Its like I wake up and I feel like I’ve walked all across the United States. I feel like I’m not recovering. I’m glad i read this article because i feel like I’m not the only one. Please feel free to comment if there is anything i can do or what worked for you that might work for me. Thank you I really appreciate it and hope everyone can reach their 2020 goals!

  7. Hi Kyle!

    Wow – sounds like you’ve really been suffering.

    First of all, I’d rule out anything underlying. Ask your Doc for a full blood panel, hormone levels and the like. Once you can rule out the obvious things, it’s time to start over. It won’t take as long as you think if you do it right.

    First of all, nutritionally make sure you’re set. No need to do anything special, just follow sound principles – plenty of quality protein, lots of green leafy vegetables, good fats, plenty of water and the like.

    Make sure you rest and recover fully too. Good quality sleep, regular sauna use (3-5 times per week) and if you want to, supplement with CBD as a sleep aid – just check the one you use is allowed under sporting governing body rules.

    Lastly, training. Don’t push too hard. Stay away from training to failure and build yourself back up appropriately – you saw where pushing too hard got you! Instead, keep to a single compound exercise per session (so don’t squat, deadlift and bench all on the same day) and pair it with supplementary yoga and accessory work. Once you establish you can cope with that, build it up.

    Hope this helps – you’ll make a full recovery, just do things at the right rate. Listen to your body at all times.

    Keep me informed,


  8. Hi Steve,

    I have a case of what looks like CNS fatigue. Now, I have to mention there’s a factor that seems to have played a key role in my case: alcohol and weed.

    Prior to the symptoms showing up, I’d been training for a month 4 times a week (45 mins strength training sessions + 30/50 mins running sessions at 70-90% of HRM). I was feeling great, taking enough rest, not feeling tired at all. I was improving session after session.

    Then, I decided to take a “break”. I had around 250ml of whiskey and a joint. I didn’t train that day nor the day after. I exercised the next couple of days and on the 3rd day I indulged myself to the same treat again, whiskey and weed. After resting for a day, I was feeling great again so I decided to get back to training. I went for a run. I knew I should’ve taken it easier than usual, but I didn’t because I was feeling great during the run. Then it started. Once I got back home, I started to feel worse than usual. My energy levels were low, i had mild flu-like symptoms and my resting heart rate remained high for much longer than usual after training. I knew I had to stop.

    So for the next 2 days I did absolutely nothing but to rest, drink plenty of water and eat properly. I was feeling a bit more tired than usual but it wasn’t too bad. However, on the 3rd day, the symptoms got worse. It started with a persistent headache, low energy levels and flu-like symptoms. Also my legs got very tight (I have pretty good flexibility but now it’s very painful when I try to touch my toes with my hands). The headache went away after a day, but the other symptoms persist 4 days later. My resting heart rate is high (usually 50, now 75). I’m waiting for blood test results.

    Now, this wouldn’t be much of a concern if it was just an isolated incident, but I’ve been experiencing similar symptoms lasting around a week intermittently since September 2019. That time I performed 2 HIIT sessions within 7 days that were probably much heavier than my fitness level could take at that moment.

    I suspect alcohol and weed have drastically affected my body’s ability to recover. So yeah, I will definitely quit both for good, but I’d love to have a bit of certainty of what’s going on here.

    I’d love to know your thoughts on this if possible. Thanks!

  9. Hi Santiago

    Well first of all I’ve got to say I’m not a Doctor and am not going to pretend to be one, so always follow medical advice.

    Beyond that though, I’d urge you to look at what you can control yourself. You know a couple of the major ones – the booze and drugs. You’ve said you’re getting rid of those, so that’s a great start.

    Next up you’ve got your ‘big 4’… Exercise, Food, Sleep and Stress. Those are the fundamentals to good health, so let’s take a deeper look at each.

    1. Exercise – if you’re tired, there’s no point in pushing yourself to your limit. Dial things back, lift light weights across the main movements (squat, lunge, push, pull, hinge, rotation) and do some walking. There’s you can make your workouts harder when you feel better.

    2. Food – if you can, clean your food right up. Perhaps try an elimination style diet for a while, eating only meat, fruit and vegetables. Drink water – avoid caffeine and booze. Clean your body out from the inside. If you do this, expect a rough few days as your body cleans itself out – you may get headaches etc. Be patient – they’ll pass in 3-4 days.

    3. Sleep – shoot for 7-10 hours per night in a pitch black room. No playing on your phone or watching TV in bed.

    4. Stress – try to reduce this without chemicals. Take a walk by the beach/woods, read books, meditate, do yoga, spend time with family.

    If you do those 4 you’re giving yourself a chance. In the meantime, wait for your results. It may be lifestyle based, it may be something else, but at least if you’re living clean you’re giving yourself a shot at great health!

    Let me know how it goes – I’ve got my fingers crossed for you!


  10. Hi Steve,

    Thanks a lot for your answer. I actually read it straight away but I wanted to wait to see my progress before getting back to you.

    So, it’s been 2 weeks since I wrote you. I’ve been following your advise to the letter and doing more research on the subject. The more I learn about it the more convinced I am that CNS fatigue is what hit me indeed.

    I am doing much better although I haven’t recovered completely. I have got back to training with reduced volume and intensity, but it seems I’m struggling to recover from each session. My HRV has been gradually increasing but it is still far from the levels it was before this happened. My stress levels are high, even at rest, and I realised I need to be more careful than ever about my mental health. This is reflected in an elevated resting heart rate (although it’s just slightly higher than before when sleeping)

    I decided to take 3 days entirely off training and focus on resting and enjoyable activities to see if my HRV finally gets to where it was and my resting heart rate stabilizes.

    This is all very frustrating because it is affecting not just my training but my whole life (in a pretty important moment). So I realised accepting that this might take a while is the first step to overcome it. The second step is to avoid stressors as much as possible. Time to finally incorporate meditation to the routine 😀

    In the end, I think this experience will help me to acquire healthier habits and learn how to train smarter. Yeah, I’ve always thought that training hard was the most important thing, regardless of how good your plan was. It’s a misleading perception but a pretty powerful driver at the same time. I’ve never had any issues when it comes to motivation and giving it all. Now it’s time to find the right balance between brains and muscle.

  11. Glad to hear you’re taking steps to recovery – it’s so important to look after yourself. Remember the workouts and training plans endorsed by bodybuilders don’t always come with the reminder that these guys are helped with a lot of chemicals!

    Take care and remember I’m always here if you need any extra help or advice.


  12. Hey steve
    I had the same problem with my cns and I took 5 days off. I went back to the gym for one day and I had the same symptoms again so I took 10 days of rest this time. Went back again and the symptoms (mainly insomnia) are back just after one day of training.
    According te the research I’ve done, even severe cases of CNS damage don’t take more that 10 days to recover. What do you think the problem is?
    (I’ve been doing weightlifting for almost 5 years – I do 5days/week (whole body))
    Please help.

  13. Hi Aziz!

    I think it sounds like you’ve had a really severe case and in all honesty, I wouldn’t believe the reading you’ve done because we all recover at different rates.

    What I’d do if I were you is go back to ground zero – take a whole week off training and whilst doing that, load up on recovery elements. I find CBD oils excellent for helping sleep. I’d take a high quality multivitamin. I’d reduce screen time. I’d avoid caffeine and alcohol (basically anything that disrupts sleep) and make a big effort of recovery.

    For the return to exercise, start light, don’t do too much. Take your time and recover properly.

    Let me know how it goes.


  14. Hi,

    I believe I have had cns fatigue since Christmas and my heart rate is a great deal higher than it should generally be. My sleep is pretty good, nutrition is good and generally feel physically OK. However I feel tired all the time and my current strategy is lots of rest and good eating until theae symptoms get better but it doesn’t seem to be getting much better? I am taking multivitamins and have started taking zma but its greatly effecting my life. I understand your not a doctor but anything you may be able to suggest would be appreciated.

  15. Also activity wise I am currently only doing light walking for around 30-45 minutes a day.

  16. Hi Damian

    In all honesty I think you’re already going the right things – it just takes time.

    Have you gone to your doctor for a full medical screen? That could highlight an issue, but beyond that I think you’re taking the right steps. Maybe even push the workouts a little to see if that will kickstart some recovery.

    If not, I’d be tempted to go for a full medical screen to see if there’s an underlying bug or something.

    I’ve got my fingers crossed for you!


  17. Hi Steve,

    Yeah I have had an ecg and blood test but I feel as if my body doesn’t want to recover. I had deficiencies in iron and vitamins d, the latter not being surprising living in rainy England! But however much I rest my rhr stays above 64 where its normally 52. This is in addition to restless nights and other issues. Do you think pushing into a workout would be sensible as too much intensity has previously caused major sleep issues which seems to exacerbate the issues I already have and make me feel awful? I just can’t understand why its being over 4 months, where even walks are a struggle and life feels unbearable as I feel physically and mentally limited. Sorry to moan.

  18. I don’t think it’s moaning at all mate!

    First port of call is to address the deficiencies – take the multivits, the vitamin d3, the fish oil, get out in the sun (when we can!) and sleep.

    I don’t think it’s wise to kick the crap out of yourself in the gym, but getting some gentle movement in probably won’t be a problem. If it is of course, rest again.

    I tend to think of movement as medicine, so moving (even gently) is better than not.


  19. Hey Hoyle, it’s currently 2:26 AM where I am and your article has given me hope for overall life improvement.

    I’ve training for full-distance triathlons the last eighteen months but I’ve been experiencing the listed CNS fatigue symptoms for six months.

    Yesterday, I went to the podiatrist for lower body tightness and they provided physical treatment for over an hour. During the treatment the podiatrist was wary of “overloading my CNS”. The remark caught my attention and led me to Google “CNS overload symptoms” during my restless hours.

    This article was the fourth I’ve read but your article has resonated with how I’ve been feeling. I’ve decided to cancel my next two days of training but continue with my half-marathon fun run on the third day. From there, I’ll significantly deload and focus on returning my mental and physical capability to pre-November 2022.

    Again, thank you for the article.

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