Deload. What is it? The experts recommend deloading every 3-5 weeks. It’s essential for progress in your program. Unfortunately many people, including myself, often skip their programmed deload weeks, and keep on working hard. Now working hard is obviously something awesome, but it’s essential to deload. By planning recovery weeks into ones program, it allows the body to recuperate from 3-5 weeks of hard training, addresses physical issues that people have, and prepares you for your next training block. The most important part of a deload week is a reduction in intensity. By reducing sets, reps, and load, you allow for further adaptations of your body. To relate it to academia, it’s similar to taking a class period between taking a hard test and starting your next unit. That day that you take to clear your head, review your progress, and prepare for more hard work, is exactly what a deload week is designed to do; physical and mental preparation for more hard work.
I’m well aware of the importance of deload weeks; I plan them every 4 weeks, when I switch from movement specific exercises to 3 full body workouts for a week. During those workouts I drastically cut load, and put together giant sets to allow me to get a great conditioning effect during those workouts. During deload weeks, I incorporate a ton of mobility work, corrective exercise, and extra conditioning work that gets me energized for my next block. Well, I’ve gone against what I know. I haven’t deloaded in quite a while. Specifically, it’s been 10 weeks. 10 weeks of heavy squatting, deadlifting, chin-ups, benching, and push-pressing. While I’ve been making incredible progress (knock on wood) in the gym, I knew it would catch up to me. With quite a few weeks of less-than-healthy sleeping habits, I’m not recovering as quickly as I should be. The meathead fix would be to sleep more and keep on trucking, but I’m going to be smart; sleep more, work less, and prepare myself for some more heavy lifting. I’m going to make a conscious effort to control the variables that I’ve been slacking on; nutrition, sleep, and stress levels. During the week, I’ll recenter myself before summer classes start. Joy.
Now over the week I’ll be caddying to make some money, so I won’t be completely abstaining from physical activity. I just won’t be lifting anything heavy. Not that I do lift anything heavy, but yaknowwhadI’msayin’? Good. Now, if you’re wondering about what the heck you should think about doing during a deload week, then I’d suggest reading Quick and Dirty by yours truly, and these two articles by Tony Gentilcore. Deload and Off Day. Both of them give good ideas of what you can do on your off day. When I choose to workout at home, I try something similar to the workout I discuss in Quick and Dirty, but if I was performing a workout in the gym, it would look something like this.
- Foam Rolling and Extra Mobility Work – I’ll do a ton of extra hip, thoracic spine, and shoulder work. I want to make sure that the joints above and below my lumbar spine are feeling great, and make sure that my shoulders are still feeling like a million bucks. Usually, they’re feeling like a million bucks. I like to keep it that way.
- Reciprocal Supersets are amazing. During deload week I’ll perform all exercises in this fashion. It shortens up the workouts, and honestly it kicks my butt as far as work capacity goes. I’ll try something like this:
- Chinups, sets of 8. Front Squats, sets of 10 (135lbs). 3 sets.
- Pushups, sets of 10. TRX Row, sets of 10. 3 sets.
- TRX Rear Foot Elevated Split Squats, or Valslide Reverse Lunge. (I find that the TRX RFESS requires more strength, but for some reason the Valslide Reverse Lunge is far more cardiovascularlly taxing. I can’t really explain that…)
- I’ll also add in some dedicated corrective/activation work. I’ll perform some of these: X-Band Walks/Monster Walks, Face pulls, Half-Kneeling Cable Woodchops, and pull-throughs. These exercises are fabulous for your functioning, and also for your levels of awesomeness. Try them.
Deloading is important. If you haven’t ever tried to, take an easy, but well planned week with your exercise, and let me know how you feel. If you’ve deloaded before and haven’t done so in quite a while, then it’s essential that you do it again. I’m looking forward to the benefits of the deload, and I’m going to make sure I get back into the gym next week healthier and with more energy than before. After the deload, game on.