Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Art of the Deload

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Training has a different flow than most other aspects of your life.  Some weeks you could squeeze and come up with a PR and other times everything is spot on but you're struggling.  If you think going balls out 365, let me know how that goes.  A break every couple of weeks will really help training in the long term.  "But what should I do?"  

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First off, know that in order for this to work there should be a reduction in total work, reps, sets and exercises.  Next, pick what tool to use.  How about changing it the normal programming you have grown accustomed to?
I like to choose between body weight, barbell, kettlebells, sandbag, and bands.  After stretching which one I will used I decided on an easy to follow set and rep scheme.  Recently I've been using how ever many sets it takes to get to 100 reps.  Sometimes I will get 1 set of 100 reps and not drop the weight until it's done for that particular exercise.  

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One of the best places to start since it often requires no equipment is body weight.  This gives you an awareness of how the body moves and show weak areas.  Obviously basic movements work best focusing on squat, lunge, push up, handstand push up, dip, chin.  1 set of a 100 reps might be pretty tough on some of these so breaking up the 100 will still give you a challenge.  

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To me the next logical progression is to add resistance to a body weight movement.  Besides adding a vest, bands are a great way to increase the intensity.  Use upper and lower body exercises and if you have something to choke the band around face pulls, flyes, pull throughs, can be added for variety.  I like to choose 5 Upper and 5 Lower and try do 100 non-stop reps of each.  My favorites are overhead press, squat, push up, good-morning, face pull, pull through, tricep extension, hamstring curl, hammer curl, and deadlift.
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Sometimes nothing is better than cold steel on your back or in your hand.  This type of deload is probably the most popular because of all the barbell exercises that are out there.  Again, stick to the basics, use upper and lower and have a routine that will be easy to move from lift to lift.  No weight just an empty bar that should weigh 45 lbs.  You can easily string together a great deload at the gym with and empty bar or if you don't want to make the trip buy an old one from Craigslist.  Find you some space outside and get it in.

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As you can see we are slowly progressing to more difficult implements.  The one I use for a Deload is a 50 pound bag that I show you how to make here for less than a couple of $.  Again, basic movements are best here with a good mix of upper and lower body movements.  My recommendation is a 100 reps and take a break in set but don't put down the weight the bag lends itself to Squats, Press, Goodmorning, Curls, Lunges, Shrugs, RDL and pretty much anything else you can think of.

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Probably the toughest of all version of my Deload because if you haven't done kettlebells a 44lb is a good weight for high rep work.   Also since everyone might  not have access I leave this one last.  There are plenty of movements to do and some of the basics that you would've done with the other pieces of equipment feel a little bit different due to the KB's center of gravity and how it moves through space.  Regardless, I think not using them is a mistake because it is a new stimulus.  Some of the traditional Kettlebell exercises like Swings, Cleans and Snatch will be pretty rough for a 100 rep non-stop set so use some common sense and break it up.  If not your hands might get broken up for you.  Go with some basics movements like Goblet Squat, Lunge, RDL, Press and add some KB moves like Swings.

Sometimes easier parts of training can be overwhelming.  Most people approach the situation of "reduce total work, reps, sets and exercises" with panic.  What do I do?  If I pick wrong, will I lose my gains?  Where do I start?  I've never used that? And on and on.  Now just pick any of the above piece of equipment and find a set/rep scheme and go at it.  Have anything to add?  Make sure you stop by NB Strength Coach Facebook to jump in.
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