It seems that winter just won’t let up here in Calgary. Yet another week of stupid cold is in the forecast and with snow last week, over the weekend…well spring just can’t come soon enough. And along with spring is driving season. Baby is getting restless…and so is her mistress! The open road is calling, the growl of the engine is haunting my dreams!
But as its still 2 months away….we need to focus on what we can change and participate in now right?
I’m restarting a cut as I was a bit too eager prior, with the holidays and associated stress. So right now my carbs and calories are high and squats are low! And boy do I feel good! Mentally I am more focused, have less cravings and am recovering way better. Which is natural when you increase your calories again. I think and hope that when they get lowered again, I will be more ready to deal with the dietary stress. For now I am enjoying the ride.
Its peak week for me. Which means all my volume is high. I am doing a lot of hypertrophy work now, with a plan that come summer I will move to a more powerlifting/strength training phase and work on that for a few months. To do this, I am moving from my beloved Anytime Fitness to a more serious powerlifting gym. I am super excited and completely petrified at the same time. What if I am the weakest one (which is very likely)? What if my form sucks and they laugh (possibly and unlikely anyone will laugh but rather help)? I just want to be friends and lift with the big kids! :)
So yea..peak week. Volume is around 40 working sets not including abs. Which means I eat for hard days, for anyone following the RP diet principals. It also means that next week is deload week. And I know some people are “what week”? DELOAD week. It’s considered an active recovery week. I know some people understand what this is, yet some don’t. So bear with me here.
Deload week, in a normal universe, follows a peak week. This is when training and fatigue is the highest and if you keep going will impede recovery, ensuring you won’t train as hard later on. What’s fatigue? Fatigue is the term used to describe the inhibition of maximal performance that occurs as a result of stressors imposed on the trainee/athlete (https://www.jtsstrength.com/fatigue-explained). When fatigue is high, the activity of catabolic activity in muscles cells outpaces anabolic activity. Therefore your muscles won’t grow. Extremely simplified but you get the gist. During deload you should start to feel great, and ready to attack the next phase of training. During peak week you should be reaching your MRV (Max recoverable volume). If you exceed this, you are not going to recover well, continue to be fatigued during your next training mesocycle and possibly risk injury and impede muscle growth and strength. Think of a car, you wouldn’t rev it to the 6000s and leave it there. No, the rpms drop down because if they don’t….bye bye engine. Same concept.
Luckily we can manage our fatigue, which is inevitable when you train. One of the management strategies is deload week. It’s one week where training volumes are brought down by about half. However if you train almost normally during this week and “bring volume down only a little bit, you end up neither dropping fatigue nor getting the overload to make gains! Intensity can actually stay up in the usual range during this week, as it’s not a huge contributor to fatigue if volume is kept in check, and also helps conserve the gains” (https://www.jtsstrength.com/fatigue-explained). Now you don’t have to deload every 3-4 weeks, this is actually my 7th week in this particular mesocycle. Individual differences occur and fatigue accumulates differently for everyone. In general it’s around 4-6 weeks. But you will have to get to know your body and its cues to manage your fatigue. So play around a bit with it.
If you are training and feel fine and you don’t think you need a deload…well you probably are not training hard enough. Do 6 sets of 12 heavy deadlifts or squats, for a few days and let me know how not deloading works out for you. I will not be responsible for any hospital visits or carb binging that occurs. Remember it’s about dropping the volume not just weights.
So that’s deload in a nutshell. There’s lots of other recovery methods you can use during deload as well and maybe in the next post I will touch on them. In the meantime…train hard…and deload!