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De-loading and why you should do it.

I’m coming to the end of my de-load week and I’ve actually found it quite hard work. I don’t mean in the physical sense but I have found it difficult to do ‘not much’. Time off is one thing, Christmas, holidays, illness and the such like is one thing, and largely out of our control, but to be in the gym, doing some training, feeling good and stopping before it starts to get interesting is, well, weird.

The idea behind de-loading is to quite simply to give the body a break way before it gets close to overtraining. There are a whole slew of other benefits; any little niggley injuries get chance to rest and recover, your CNS (Central Nervous System) gets recharged and reset which as a consequence will probably mean you can lift more weight, your mental focus gets distilled down to a laser point of concentration. That last one could be just me, I’m desperate for a good, hard thrashing – in fact this whole week has felt like all foreplay and no pay-off. Which is possibly more information then you felt you needed. Apologies. The point being is that I can’t wait to start training hard again come Monday and enthusiasm is one of the most potent weapons in the arsenal of gym tricks and traps that we have at our disposal.

There are many schools of thought about how to do a de-load week. Some advocate a complete rest others suggest that you continue training quite hard but change how you train. For example if you are currently doing strength training then in your week off go down the bodybuilding/isolation exercise route. Personally I think a complete week off causes you to lose to much fitness, muscle and the all important inertia. Achieving your goals is as much about doggedly plodding on as it is good training and quality nutrition.
I have, in the past, done the whole ‘training like a mentalist but in a different manner’ thing and usually end up more knackered than before I started it.

Fortunately there is a handy little compromise, which is what I have done this time round. It seems you can teach old dogs new tricks providing you beat them with lead pipes whilst shouting at them ”put the bloody weights down Dave you cretin”. Ah well, in any case what I did was stick to my training schedule of:

Monday – military press
Tuesday – deadlifts
Wednesday – cardio
Thursday – bench press
Friday – squats

but all I did was 3-5 sets of my main exercise at no heavier then 60-70% of my 1RM, before each workout I did 10 minutes of mobility work and then to finish I went for a 30 minute walk.
In theory I am more rested, but as my body has still been doing the same movement patterns I won’t have, hopefully, lost anything.

All this remains to be seen and all I have to do now is figure out what I’m going to do next week.

Yours desperate for a little pain,

1 Comment
  • Fatman on February 4, 2011

    Sounds good. I’ve been running the 5/3/1 program for a while now, used to deload regularly every fourth week at the very beginning but later just went straight to the first week of the new cycle – that usually was deload enough, as long as you don’t kill yourself trying to hit max reps in the final set (e.g. if you can do 8, do 6).

    I have also generally found that I was strongest in the second week of the cycle – the “medium” week of triples.

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