Your gains didn’t happen overnight. So, they won’t disappear overnight either.
It’s super easy to panic when you’ve been on a roll with your workouts and then something completely unexpected (such as a global pandemic) throws a wrench in your routine. Our initial reaction is always to assume the worst: there goes all our hard work down the drain and any and all progress is lost. Guess the Netflix and wine life are the way to go.
It doesn’t work quite like that. In fact, any good training program includes a “deload” week every 6-8 weeks. Deload weeks help prevent overtraining, reducing the risk of injury by giving joints, tendons and ligaments a break. They also prevent plateaus, which can happen due to the increased stress on the central nervous system. Often, after taking a deload week, there is no change in athletic performance when returning to normal weight selection.
Deload weeks can also create greater mind-muscle connection by redirecting focus to range of motion or kinesthetic activation which sometimes can suffer as load increases without even knowing it. We’re all guilty (professionals too, sometimes more than anyone) of letting form slip under heavy load, so a deload offers an opportunity to revert back to the basics.
A deload week involves either taking a week of rest, decreasing the weight used in your programming, cutting back on your training days to decrease volume, or changing the training focus, such as shifting from strength training to mobility.
For those in a training groove, it can be really mentally challenging to take a deload week. Why take a step back when our momentum is pushing us forward? It’s an even harder pill to swallow when the deload is forced based on extenuating circumstances. But it creates a unique opportunity that doesn’t come often and can actually push us closer to our goals.
With the club being temporarily closed, take a second and think about what areas of training have been neglected. If you’re a heavy lifter, when was the last time you focused on mobility or core training? Take this time to practice yoga or Pilates from home. Or do a similar workout with bodyweight and tap into the mind-muscle connection mentioned above. If you’re a cardio queen, pick up a set of dumbbells and throw on an at home workout to get some strength training in. If you’re a yoga junkie, try a no-equipment needed HIIT workout.
It likely took you a long time to get where you are now. That means you won’t lose everything in 1-2 weeks either. And even if you can’t do your exact training program due to limited resources, remember that at the end of the day something is better than nothing. So, whatever you do, turn off the TV, get off Instagram (words I need to tell myself ALL THE TIME) and move, even if it’s just a leisurely walk. Keep your protein intake high which will help maintain the gains. You’ll be that much more prepared when the club reopens and you’re ready to hit the squat rack again.
To get more ideas on how maximize your deload time, email Shannon Roark.