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De-load Weeks & Why They're Important

De-load Weeks & Why They're Important

Let's talk de-loading. The amount of time, usually a week (be that planned or unplanned), where we reduce our amount of training and output significantly to rest and recover instead. An easy way to think of it is an 'easy week'. This way you can mitigate injuries, address problem areas, maintain consistency, all by getting stronger and fitter. Cool right?

Why is it necessary? Does it actually work? Does it even apply to me?


Let's say you've been pushing hard with your workouts for a few weeks. You give significant physical stress to your muscles, breaking down tissue which temporarily decreases strength in local areas. As you recover during rest days or weeks, the body adapts and gets stronger in a phase called super-compensation. This phase is critical for strength building and gaining progress.

Push too hard without decent recovery; burnout may be on the way. Joint aches, pains, diminishing motivation and fatigue can start to set in, decreasing your strength and ability to build muscle further.

A great article written by the University of Tokyo back in 2013 studied two groups of lifters training for 24 weeks. One who trained continuously with no rest, and one who trained intermittently for six weeks on, three weeks off. They found the intermittent group experienced more rapid growth and came back stronger at the end of their three weeks off than those who had no deloading weeks.

Now I'm not saying we should all be taking a break from training for three weeks, but how you do it will depend on your training experience and your social calendar!

Beginner Lifters


Beginners just starting on their strength training journey, or those who tend to go through the motions, follow exercises but don't push themselves or track their lifts, de-loading is actually not very applicable as accumulative fatigue isn't high enough to warrant one. If you are a beginner, start tracking workouts and get into the habit of trying to improve one aspect of your training each session. Stay away from complete fatigue, but you should be coming close. If you feel like you're not progressing and some things are just too hard, peel it back by 10-15% that week, then try. This is a round-about way of deloading in which you should be able to return to the weight you were stuck on and complete it successfully.

~ Track your workouts
~ Try to improve one element of your training each week
~ If you get stuck, decrease by 10% next session
~ Have another go at the weight you were stuck on


Intermediate & Advanced Lifters


Intermediate & advanced lifters need a slightly different approach. You've been tracking your workouts, consistently progressing and pushing your workouts where you can. I recommend you start incorporating them every 4 - 8 weeks, dependent on how your body feels and thinks it needs one. You'll know. What we don't want you to do, is take a week off to rest. You still want to get to the gym and perform your usual scheduled workouts. This is important, or you'll find you're weaker coming back into your next phase rather than stronger. Instead, half the number of sets you do, do fewer reps, and reduce the weight you lift by 15%.

~ Maintain the same workouts
~ Halve the number of sets
~ Complete fewer reps
~ Reduce the weight by 15%

You're still training your body and nervous system, preventing any strength loss, but you can eliminate fatigue to come back feeling stronger.

 

Cardio


Cardio is always essential to include in your routine for general health, but keep it low intensity. Avoid high-intensity cardio during this period as it stresses the nervous system and will hinder the recovery process. Instead, stick to walks, cycling, and those which don't stress the body.

 

Ready to deload?


Yes, they can be tedious, and it may feel like you're taking a step back after all that hard work you've been putting in, but trust us, it's crucial for long-term progress and consistency. It's the perfect opportunity to focus on mobility, lifting technique, active stretching, sleeping, and healing.

The Kinsella Wellness packages are designed in a way you will progress quickly. Have a look here to see which programme is right for you. Once a member, you'll have 24/7 access to your workouts, nutrition and biometric tracking, video tutorials, instant messaging with your trainer and a private community group, all from your KW app. Join us! We can't wait to meet you.

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