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A Blog Post

A week off and some massive weights lifted.

As I mentioned in my last post, this week is a de-load week. De-loading is a tactical rest period that is implemented before over training, injury or apathy strikes. On my current routine a week of de-load is done once per month, which means I can train like a nutter for 3 weeks and then back off and take things easy for a week. There is much speculation whether de-load weeks actually work or if all you’re doing is stalling your progress and, in fact, what you need to make improvements is to train in the moment and on the cusp of your physical limitations. I, up until very recently, didn’t take de-load weeks seriously – in fact I hadn’t even heard off them until about a year ago, however, since trying them a few months ago for the first time I am now a major fan. I think if your training, rest, nutrition, supplementation and age are perfect then you may very well not need to use de-loading. Unfortunately as I’m 96 years old and riddled with annoying little injuries a week of taking it easy has worked wonders and allowed for my recuperative abilities to catch up with my physical aspirations. De-loading can take any form you wish; don’t train, train less, train differently, whatever, it doesn’t really matter.

What has worked for me so far is doing my main lifts; overhead press, deadlifts, bench press and squat but with 50-70% of my working weights. After doing 3-5 sets of 5 reps of those exercises I would then go for a walk or do some other form of low intensity cardio activity. What I have found is by Tuesday or Wednesday I’m crawling the walls desperate to have a decent hard workout and by the time Monday comes around again I can’t get to the gym fast enough. Just for the rejuvenation of training enthusiasm a de-load week is worth it for me, if you then couple that with the fact that all my various ailments and injuries have subsided to a dull roar, then de-loading is invaluable – for me.

As I came into this de-load week feeling less beat up then is usual I was considering pushing the conditioning elements of my training quite hard. Visions of kettlebell, loaded carry and sprint drills danced in my head and I probably would have finished the week twice as smashed as when I had started it. If Monday’s session with Matt Strong was anything to go by then I was certainly heading down a path of self harm and muscle abuse, but then the Gods of Toil and Sweat intervened, stuck a splinter in my eye and ensured I had the rest of the week off work and training.

Come Friday afternoon I wasn’t feeling to bad, as it only hurt if I looked at things or blinked, so I thought I would go down to the gym near my house and have a quick little play on some tiny weights. Although my gym is in Cardiff I actually live on Barry Island, a faded beauty that is like Barbados but with way more evil seagulls, big nasty buggers with tattoos and criminal records. On the island there is a rather fine gym ran by a guy called Guy, which can get confusing but try to keep up. It is an old school gym in the best kind of way, lots of free weights and machines and no stupid distractions like Jacuzzis, aerobics classes or men in tight Lycra. The plan was to just loosen up all my tight muscles, get some blood flowing and get out of the house but just like they say in the military ‘no plan ever survives contact with the enemy’, it seems that none of my plans in taking it easy survives contact with a squat rack.

If I ever take any time off due to injury, illness or holiday I always make my 1st session back a squat session. Nothing else gives your entire body a wake up call like some heavy-ass squats. As always I started slowly doing some mobility work with an empty bar and doing various squatting, lunging and snatching movements. Once limbered up it was time for:

Squats – For the past 3 weeks I’ve been playing around with box/bench squats and I was curious as to how this made regular squatting feel. Everything; depth, technique, lower and upper back strength feels so much better. I was using a wider powerlifting style stance and worked up in sets of 5 reps to 170kg and could have gone much heavier.

Bench press – Sets of 3-5 reps working up to 1 rep at 160kg -my best weight EVER! Board presses I love you.

Good mornings – supersetted with various lat exercises like pulldowns and T-bar rows, sets of 5 reps working up to 140kg.

It was a good workout and I urge you to train at the Muscle and Fitness Gym if you ever visit Barry Island.

Yours with lashings of candy floss,

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