Deloading has a couple purposes:
1. To recover and prepare for the next training cycle.
2. To restore excitement about training.
Just taking a week off, doing light weight for lots of reps, doing light weight for few reps and any other scheme I tried just never worked for me. My first week back of a deload was always a slow grind to get back into it. Everything felt heavy and moved slow. My past few deloads have had the exact opposite effect. I’m excited to get back to training, my weights are all moving fast and even the higher percentage weights don’t feel as heavy as they should. Here are the rules I follow for my deload weeks now that have worked great:
1. Move FAST: all my deload training starts with, and sometimes only consist of, explosive movements. This primes the nervous system and gets it back on track.
2. Avoid Fatigue: I stop all my training sessions before fatigue becomes an issue and I take plenty of time between sets and exercises. I want whatever movements I’m doing to be fast and powerful.
3. Find Novelty: Aside from some staples like chins and dips I very rarely use any movements during my deload that I have been using during my training cycles. It may be a variation, but never the exact same exercise.
4. Experiment: I really like using the deload period to experiment with new exercises and exercise variations and see if they’re something I want to add into my training cycle.
5 Play: I do not under any circumstances plan any of my deload training. If I feel like grabbing my suspension trainer and hitting the playground at the local park I do it. If I feel like trying some new squat variation I do it. If I want to go play some basketball I do it. To much structure in your training can make it very monotonous and feel very restricted. Unstructured training/play gets you excited about getting back to the gym and a structured program.
6. Prioritize Restoration: Do some extra foam rolling, light cardio, stretching, and whatever other means you use to improve recovery. In the end this is a recovery week so treat it as such. Just make sure that your recovery is priming you for your next training cycle.
Now I admit that I have it easier than most since I work in a gym. My deload training could consist of up to 4 different “workouts” in a day that last anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour. Your’s however, does not need to be like mine in order to work. If hit the gym before or after work and only did some stuff that made you feel stronger and excited to be there then got out it would be a great session. What you actually do during your deload isn’t as important as the effect it has. If you get ready to head back into your training and you aren’t excited and ready about training then take some more time.
Now, there are some caveats to this approach. If you are really burned out then using explosive movements probably isn’t a good idea. Also don’t plan on taking just a 1 week deloading period either. The more burned out you are the longer it will take to recover from. If you get nervous about going to the gym, have no motivation, everything feels heavy and you have trouble finding the energy to train with out a massive dose of stims then you need more than a week off. Be smart and don’t push yourself past your ability to recover.
Alright so it’s deload week for me. I hate taking them but after last week I needed a little break. My numbers are all moving up from cycle to cycle so I’m not going to mess with a good thing. Yesterday I took completely off and later today I’m going to head out and drag the sled for a bit and maybe carry my sandbag around the yard a couple times.
EDIT: Decided to just haul around the sandbag and do some grip work. There is a large difference between a 135 pound sandbag and a 180 pound sandbag.
Since my activity levels have dropped for the week I’m lowering my calories and carbs along with it. As much as I want to move more towards a very slow recomp/lean mass gaining cycle I need to get my ass lean ASAP. I’ve been frustrated the past couple weeks thinking that I wasn’t making progress but after looking at some pictures my legs and arms are definitely getting leaner so I’m going to stick with what I was doing which wasn’t anything special. I was lifting in the AM and then back-loading all my carbs at night. Outside of my last meal it is all just protein, fat, and veggies.
Now, since I can’t afford a Prowler or sled and the gym I work at doesn’t have one then I’ve had to improvise with my clients. I also found an incredibly cheap alternative to buying something like a TRX.
Gym Improv #1- Decline Bench Prowler
If your gym has carpet or at least a surface that lets a bench slide fairly easy then you can sub out the prowler or sled with a decline bench. I found it works best to use the lowest setting on the bench. If you don’t care about having two different “handle” heights to push on then you can use a regular flat bench. To add resistance just throw some plates on the bench and push away.
Gym Improv #2- Ratchet Strap TRX
All I did for these was purchase a pair of 6′ long (should got longer but oh well, live and learn) ratchet straps and 4 spring clips. Since the gym already has several pair of cable handles I didn’t bother attempting to make a pair. The straps I bought weren’t the traditional ratchets however, they are just a spring clip so that all I have to do is push the clip to adjust it. All you have to do is put the spring clips through either the loops sewn into the ends or through the metal loops of the hooks that are already on the straps. That’s it. Throw a handle on each one and you are ready to go.
I’ll get some video of both of these in action over the next couple of days.
Once again I’m behind on updating this thing. I got all my rep maxes in at the end of the last cycle, deloaded and now I’m back lifting again this week. Here’s how things are going so far:
Military Press: 105 x 5 x 8
Squat: 190 x 5 x 8
Bench: 150 x 5 x 8
Deadlifts: 240 x 5 x 8
I really don’t remember what I did as far as accessory work the first three days. Today I’m doing a little double split action. I deadlifted earlier then I’m going to get my accessory work in later this afternoon.
I’m not going to be making the July 2nd NASA meet so I’m going to go full on with the Juggernaut Method training for 16 weeks and see how it goes.
Military Press- 95 x 3 x 10
FB DB Row- 115 x 5
DB Row- 115 x 10, 10
Incline DB Bench Press- 75 x 8, 85 x 6
I haven’t done any military pressing since December so these high reps killed me. The program actually calls for 5 sets of 10 this week but I didn’t have the endurance so I stopped it short at 3 sets. That won’t happen again though, from here on out I’m going to shoot for exactly how it is laid out.
I’m bumping my training back up to 4x per week so this should be interesting.
Since I’m 6 weeks away from the July 2nd powerlifting meet here in Salina I decided to bastardize Chad Smith’s Juggernaut Method. His program is supposed to be a 16 week cycle but I’m cutting some corners. I’m supposed to deload this week but I don’t really feel the need. However, since the first “wave” of the Jugg Method calls for 5 sets of 10 on the bench, squat, military press, and deadlift and I’m fairly certain that would destroy me if I packed it all in to one week. I haven’t had much volume in my lifting for the past several months so I’m breaking those up into 2 weeks. This week will be bench and squat. Next week will be military press and deadlift. I’m going to just lift 2 days per week and chill/recover on the other days. If I do anything it will be some sled dragging to aid recovery.
135 x 5 sets x 10
Chins x a bunch
I varied my grip a bit on the bench so that my first 3 sets were all a little different. Set 1 was illegal grip, 2 was index on ring, and the third was ring finger on the ring. The last two sets were index on the ring. I didn’t pause every single rep but I did pause the final rep of ever set.
I’ve backed off the training a bit this week. The gym opened last Wednesday so I’ve been spending a ton of time there hustling up clients. My schedule is kinda messed up but I’ll do what I have to do. As of right now I can not deadlift at the gym because there is no platform or bumper plates. I’m thinking I may have to reserve one night per week to lift at my usual gym where I can squat and deadlift in the same night then bench and do all my accessory work at the gym I work at.
The only organized training I’ve done so far this week is a little bench where I hit 185 for 3 sets of 2 and then some dips and chins. Yesterday morning I did a little squatting but I didn’t have a box so I just worked up to 275 for 2 and called it good. It wasn’t exactly heavy but I was training at 7 in the morning on an empty stomach so I didn’t feel real strong to begin with.
Paused Wide Grip Bench-
135 x 5
155 x 5
185 x 5, 5
135 x 8
185 x 8, 8, 8
155 x 8
Defranco Shoulder Tri-Set-
35# plate/25# dumbells x 10 reps per set x 2 rounds
Incline Dumbbell Press-
45 x 10, 10 (5 second negative each rep)
Saturday Strongman Training
150 x 1
170 x miss
100 x 100 ft
190 x 100 ft
240 x 15 ft
180 x 1
230 x 1, 1, 1
Called it a day after that. I wasn’t really planning on doing any overhead pressing since my bicep is a little jacked up still. I didn’t even get 170 off my chest. I was pretty happy with the farmers walks but my right shoulder is completely jacked up after the 240 attempt. I’m going to go ahead and take this next week completely off from anything upper body. I’ll drag the sled a little and possibly squat with safety squat bar or the cambered bar depending on how I feel but that’s it. It’s going to be a lot of foam rolling, epsom salt baths, and recovering like crazy to gear up for my next training cycle.