An important part of my training routine is the DELOAD WEEK. To be honest I never heard of deload training until I met my coach, Eric Helms. At first I was hesitant and resisted the idea, but have come to learn and understand the importance of this week.
What does Deload mean? It is taking some of the load off from training. You continue to train but somehow back off and make your workouts easier to give your entire body (muscles, joints, nervous systems, etc.) and MIND a chance to rest, recovery and allow for supercompensation to occur (when your body’s improvements occur). That means no training to failure and no attempts at progression. There are numerous ways to deload properly such as cutting down on volume and intensity (by cutting back on reps, sets and poundage). Most people deload by reducing their poundage performing sets at around 40-60% of their 1RM. Some people keep the same poundage but hit fewer reps. I’ve read so many different types of deloading – I believe you need to find what works best for you and stick to it as this is the most overlooked part of training programs. I experimented a bit and found a different type of programming that works well for me!
My program consists of 3 weeks of heavy lifting and then every 4th week I deload. At first I cut the sets and poundage. But mentally I was not feeling the break from the routine. So now to make things more interesting I do CrossFit. My trainer, Anthony Vorachak, is a CrossFit athlete and competitor. I love the variety as each day is completely different plus it is great conditioning. Anthony modifies the WOD’s (workout of the day) for me so that they are not too intense (so I am still deloading) yet still challenging enough. We work on different things like Olympic lifts (cleans and snatches) and some standard crossfit things like handstand pushups, toes to bar abs, wall balls, etc. Kipping pull-ups are still a challenge for me and are on my list of things to accomplish. A kipping pull-up is a swinging motion that combines a hip drive, kick, and arm pull to build momentum that helps raise your chin over the bar. I get the swing part then go into a strict pull-up – I guess as a bodybuilder I cannot let go of that strict movement. Plus my slight lack of coordination makes this motion difficult for me to grasp. However I do provide some laughter as my attempts at some of these exercises are entertaining for both myself and Anthony.
I have really come to appreciate my deload week for so many different reasons. I know it is good recovery time for my body, I enjoy the variety of my CrossFit week and it gives me a break mentally. It also helps during my 3 weeks of heavy lifting. Especially during that 3rd week when I tell myself to push a bit harder knowing that I get a break the following week. Afterwards I come back stronger and ready to hit the heavy poundage again with new PR’s. To get better, bigger and stronger make sure you are taking advantage of this important part of training!
My last competition was November 2nd, 2013 so I am officially in my off-season. Off-season means that I do not compete and try to gain some muscle mass before I have to trim the fat again. If I maintained a low body fat year round, I wouldn’t be able to gain any lean muscle mass. The competition is definitely harder now that I am at a professional level. Therefore, I really need to take advantage of this period of time to build more muscle mass in order to be more competitive.
During my off-season my macronutrients increase, which means more food. My grams of protein remain the same year round (150 grams) but my carbs and fat adjust according to where I am in my training. Currently my carbs and fat grams are slowly increasing which makes me a happy girl. I have more energy and strength which is needed to get the work done in the gym.
Below (left photos taken November 2012 and right summer 2013) are pictures taken before and after my last off-season – can you see the gains I made? Cannot wait to see what this current off-season creates.