The Central Governor Theory: Why your brain may be limiting your performance at the box
The Central Governor Theory: Why your Brain May Be Limiting Your Performance At The Box
What Is Central Govt?
Central government refers to the system of governance that governs all other governments. A centralized government controls a large territory with its own military forces, police force, and legal system. An example would be the United States or Russia. These countries have central governments because they are capable of controlling vast territories and maintaining order within them. However, these nations do not necessarily control their citizens’ lives. For instance, the United States does not always enforce laws against drug use. Drug users often go unpunished and many end up becoming criminals themselves. Similarly, Russian law enforcement agencies are unable to effectively patrol certain areas due to lack of manpower and resources.
A central government is inefficient in managing human life because it lacks the ability to monitor every aspect of individuals’ lives. For instance, the United States government cannot monitor every person’s internet usage.
If the US government did so, they could easily identify drug addicts and crackheads. In addition, there is no way to ensure that criminals will not commit crimes while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Thus, even though some individuals may be punished for committing crimes while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, others may continue to live normal lives without any consequences whatsoever.
The concept of ‘central government’ dates back to ancient times, such as the Roman Empire or even earlier. In modern history, the first real example of a central government arose in 16th Century Spain with the rule of Charles V.
His empire did not consist of large swathes of foreign territory. Instead, it was based on the concept of an ’empire over many nations. These nations were not necessarily conquered in the typical sense; instead, they were more like protectorates or viceroyalties.
A world map showing the Spanish Empire in 1565. At its greatest extent, it included Spain, large parts of what are now Mexico and the United States, nearly all of South America, areas of present-day southwestern France, Holland, Luxembourg, Belgium and most of Italy and Portugal.
In the United States, central governments are established by the states and not by the federal government. They are primarily responsible for managing public education, maintaining law and order, and ensuring safety of citizens.
The Central Governor Model of Exercise Performance
There is another type of ‘governor’ that controls your workouts—your central governor. The central governor model states that your brain controls all aspects of exercise performance.
Just like a real governor in a engine, it will slow down or stop you from exercising excessively. Thus, it is impossible to drive your body beyond its limits.
One of the main arguments for the central governor model is the fatigue that you experience during exercise. Fatigue is the direct result of your brain sending out signals to slow down and stop exercise.
While there may be other reasons for fatigue (such as low blood glucose), the brain ultimately controls everything. This may be why performance increases over time despite the same exertion.
Another argument for the central governor control is the pain you experience during exercise. This would include things such as muscle pain and soreness, cramping, and even something as trivial as blisters.
The brain is sending a clear signal to stop those body parts from continuing to move.
The main argument against the central governor model is that you can override its control by simply pushing through the pain. An analogy would be a computer program that tells you “This program is unsafe.
Destroy your hard drive now?”
You can simply hit the ‘No’ button and override the message. In a sense, you are in control of how your workouts play out and whether or not to destroy your body.
So which one is right?
The answer is that they are both right. Think of it like an on/off switch. Whether it is call the ‘fear response’, the ‘pain response’, or the ‘danger response’, your body does have a mechanism in place to tell you to stop when facing certain death.
However, exercise performance usually does not put your life in danger. While you may be pushing yourself close to the point of exhaustion, your body is not in any real danger.
As such, these mechanisms are more of a safety feature than anything else.
While many of the symptoms of fatigue can be linked to the brain, there is no solid evidence that they actually are due to the brain. It could simply be that the muscles are fatigued and need rest.
Indeed, the brain does not even control everything in your body. There are several other systems that operate without the brain such as your heart and lungs.
The good thing about exercise is that you can always decide to stop. No matter how bad things get, you will never truly be in any danger if you simply stop.
Even elite athletes ‘rest’ between competitions. This is why the central governor model seems more likely.
You should keep both models in mind when thinking about your training. If you start to feel pain or fatigue, you can always take a step back.
However, understanding that the brain is in control of exercise performance allows you to push yourself much harder during training.
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- From catastrophe to complexity: a novel model of integrative central neural regulation of effort and fatigue during exercise in humans (TD Noakes, ASC Gibson, EV Lambert – British journal of sports …, 2004 – bjsm.bmj.com)
- Testing for maximum oxygen consumption has produced a brainless model of human exercise performance (TD Noakes – British journal of sports medicine, 2008 – bjsm.bmj.com)
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- Mental fatigue impairs physical performance in humans (SM Marcora, W Staiano… – Journal of applied …, 2009 – journals.physiology.org)