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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 8:45 am 
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Deific Wizard of Sagacity
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I'll deload when I'm dead


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 9:39 am 
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When you NEED a deload isn't all that complicated. Comes down to the following question,

Do I feel like i've been hit by a truck?

If Yes, deload.
If no, keep doing what you're doing, if not with more effort.

To expand on that, first your lifts will stall. As in, pretty much all of them. You will feel demotivated. Despite going to bed earlier, you'll still struggle to get up more than you normally do, and feel tired throughout the day. You may even be a bit of an a$$hole to be around. You feel "beat up" or a bit "achey" (especially for the older/wiser population). These are tell tale signs. Not ALL the time but, most of the time when you feel like this, you can be sure you'll benefit from a deload. These feelings can happen for other reasons - personal stress, job, not enough sleep or food, etc. Same thing though, only the candle is being burned too much at the other end.

If you chose not to deload when you feel like this and just soldier on, it'll just go on for a few weeks, you'll probably not only stall on your lifts but, you'll regress a little. I call this a "forced deload". Your body is forcing you to NOT get better and possibly even get worse to allow recovery. In other words, your body will deload when it needs to whether you like it or not.

With a beginner, I don't deload them until they feel like this. I don't usually tell them. At most i'll say, "keep doing this until either stop making progress, feel like crap, or both". Then I deload them. At this point, "beginner gains" are pretty much all used up and from then on, I'll actually program a regular deload and almost always do it every 4 weeks.

The way I see it, I can let people go through the inevitable plateau experienced when carrying too much CNS fatigue, or I can actually take advantage of it. In that sense, I purposely over reach in the first 3 weeks i.e. do too much. This is followed by a week of doing too little, which is almost always followed by a new 4 week cycle feeling fresh, motivated, and hitting PB's. I even have clients tell me they have a real sense of achievement when they get that "hit by a truck" feeling. When, in one particularly charismatic clients words, "you suck, and its a GOOD thing".

As for the actual deload, it depends. However, I normally reduce volume (sets and reps) on the big lifts, and the intensity just a little, if at all. For example if someone normally done 8 x 3 on DL's, then on a deload their program might say, "3x3(easy)" - "easy" just depends on how they're feeling. If they feel good I let them them go heavy. If not i'll take them to about 80% of what they could normally do (it's not set in stone, I look for a smooth bar speed and aim to avoid a grinding rep). Generally I keep assistance stuff pretty much the same, although may knock a set or 2 off here and there. If I have a day which, for example, has a lot of lower back work in it, I may exclude an exercise altogether i.e. lets say someone has Box Squats for Speed followed by conventional DL for reps. On the 4th week i would knock a couple of speed sets off the box squats and omit the DL's altogether. With some experimenting you'll get an instinct for it. At first I would just atleast half the amount of sets and reps you do on the big lifts and keep the intensity, see how that goes.

KPj

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 11:59 am 
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Ya I meant Im new to extremely low reps :( Ive always had a problem with deloading or resting. I keep going until Im physcially dead and honestly even if I know that Im still stubborn. Plus when I see my training partners going intense I have this "I can't be out done " feeling going on inside of me. Im going to start trying to deload weeks now. But instead of cutting of the weight I use can I cut out a middle set or 2 middle sets from my big lifts? For instance if Im doing 5 sets of squats and I use more weight in each set, can I cut out sets 2 and 4 and keep the weight I would use for my 1st, 3rd, and 5th set? Is that ok?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:06 pm 
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Say you're doing 5x 60, 70, 80, 90, 100. A deload might mean stopping after the third set. See the Madcow program for an example. I think 5-3-1 is similar as it stops at about the 80% mark.

Here's what Jim Wendler says about deloading: http://www.jimwendler.com/2012/01/more-on-the-deload/

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:25 pm 
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this is really interesting. I never knew deloads were as important as the full workout weeks. Now one last question on this. What would give better recovery, Deloads or complete rest? Im assuming deloads is more of an active recovery type thing, right? Is it better to take a week off or still workout with less intensity?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 2:35 pm 
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Immortal2 wrote:
this is really interesting. I never knew deloads were as important as the full workout weeks. Now one last question on this. What would give better recovery, Deloads or complete rest? Im assuming deloads is more of an active recovery type thing, right? Is it better to take a week off or still workout with less intensity?


Workout with less intensity. It maintains conditioning, if nothing else.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 4:36 pm 
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KPj--I can't quite agree with you on this. Sure, you probably have to reach the "hit by a truck" stage a few times in order to learn your work capacity. But if this keeps happening over and over, it just shows that you don't learn very well. I'd say that the hit by a truck feeling is the indicator that you should have deloaded a few days ago. After a while you should be able to anticipate and plan to avoid it.

Maybe it's an age thing, but when I get to that stage, it takes more than a simple deload to get me right again. I end up resting, resetting lifts and generally losing ground. Now I'm trying to anticipate better, and deload smarter. This may mean only deloading a single lift. Squats take a lot out of me, even more than DL. A few weeks ago I just deloaded squat for one workout. I cut the volume to about half, intensity went up almost to what I'd been working. The rest of the workout was as usual. With my present schedule, it's easy to insert a rest day here or there without screwing up the whole plan. Deload doesn't have to be for a whole week, or cycle. Sometimes it should be, but it doesn't always have to be.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:39 pm 
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I deload a little before the "hit by a truck" stage. I think it's best to avoid getting quite that bad.

Sometimes I think it is good to take a week off. If your lifts are going down, and you're feeling crappy, you can take a week off and come back feeling good, and probably have all your lifts back to where they were again too.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:26 pm 
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i usually hit a PR after a week off, especially if I've eaten well during the deload


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 28, 2012 7:31 pm 
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robertscott wrote:
I'll deload when I'm dead


robertscott wrote:
i usually hit a PR after a week off, especially if I've eaten well during the deload


So, how often do you die?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:33 am 
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I die a little every time some skinny kid tells me he lifts for "strength"


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 5:51 am 
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Jungledoc wrote:
KPj--I can't quite agree with you on this. Sure, you probably have to reach the "hit by a truck" stage a few times in order to learn your work capacity. But if this keeps happening over and over, it just shows that you don't learn very well. I'd say that the hit by a truck feeling is the indicator that you should have deloaded a few days ago. After a while you should be able to anticipate and plan to avoid it.


I mostly agree with what you said. Everything does "depend". I generally try to avoid CNS fatigue from training affecting peoples every day life. I'd rather they didn't get "achey" and i'd rather they weren't like a half-shut-knife in work.

In terms of work capacity - your work capacity changes as you get stronger (or weaker), it's not always the same. It also obviously depends on how you program your assistance. If you've increased your strength by X% over the last 3 months, then you have the potential for even better work capacity (if you don't have it instantly). To know those limits you need to tread closely to them and, sometimes, that'll result in pushing it a bit too far and getting the strangely enjoyable hit-by-a-truck feeling.

That's not to say this is the only way to make progress, not at all. This is the approach I tend to favour for people concerned primarily with getting stronger.

Jungledoc wrote:
Maybe it's an age thing, but when I get to that stage, it takes more than a simple deload to get me right again.


I'm not really sure what would define a simple deload. However, age is definitely without a doubt an issue. I actually have two 58 year old clients, one male one female. Some people are a very young 58 in terms of training, especially if they have trained before however these 2 were very sedentary and never done anything before they joined the gym. One basically sits all day the other basically stands all day.

Anyway, with them, I try very hard to avoid the hit by a truck feeling. This is also much easier because they don't have such an aggressive focus on strength training as others. When I do deload them, they get much more of a deload than someone in their 20's (generally less volume and lower intensity). When they have had that hit by a truck feeling, I have noticed that it can take longer than a week to feel fresh again.

On work capacity, lets take the 58 year old female. I can remember a few sets of DL's at 40KG with the bar elevated would create a lot of fatigue. Now, 40KG doesn't make a dent, as she generally does sets with around 75KG from the floor now (in fact the last time she deloaded, she deadlifted 50KG for 3 sets of 5). If I based her potential work capacity on when she was pulling 40KG and really struggling, then she'd just be bored now and, to be honest, probably wouldn't be as strong. What used to create the need for a deload is now considered deload weights.

Jungledoc wrote:
Deload doesn't have to be for a whole week, or cycle. Sometimes it should be, but it doesn't always have to be.


I agree. There are various ways to do it. I don't use one single approach with everyone. However, I prefer every 4 weeks, prefer to use one whole week, and prefer to over reach before hand. It's just a personal thing. I like to be in control of when I need to deload. I also tend to do more "healthy stuff" in a deload week and teach new movements or lifts so, I get more out of it than just reducing training stress. I'm deloading right now (week 4), and, due to the current program, i'm going to deload in week 7, too. I know that next week i'll be fresh and ready to smash through my sessions, and I know in week 7 i'll be probably be weaker. I know week 5 and 6 are going to be tough and I need to be at my best, so I'm already thinking about trying eat more and ensuring I get better sleep. I know on week 8 (test week) i'll be as strong as i've ever been on this 8 week program as long as I don't screw anything up or something unpredictable happens. If it doesn't work out like that, then something has got in the way. It may be something out with my control like work or family issues, in which case, I need to adjust accordingly, and that's fine. However it may also be that i've slacked off on diet or not got enough sleep, and it acts as the kick in the a$$ that I need - it holds me accountable.

KPj

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:13 am 
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sorry rob :( im still learning, and hey im not all that skinny. I mean I may have less than 9% body fat now but i weigh the same as I did at 12% body fat. So idk, I want to say I added muscle but its mostly in the legs because for some reason I cant Bench to save my life. I mean I REALLY COULDNT bench to save my life. So therefore I do lack a big chest like other lifters and it is pretty embarrassing :(. That's my main concern for getting stronger because I just want to make my weaknesses stronger?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:16 am 
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kpj, what do you mean by over reaching? Do you simply add sets and reps to your current workout? Or do you workout more during the week?


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:51 am 
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Immortal2 wrote:
sorry rob :( im still learning, and hey im not all that skinny. I mean I may have less than 9% body fat now but i weigh the same as I did at 12% body fat. So idk, I want to say I added muscle but its mostly in the legs because for some reason I cant Bench to save my life. I mean I REALLY COULDNT bench to save my life. So therefore I do lack a big chest like other lifters and it is pretty embarrassing :(. That's my main concern for getting stronger because I just want to make my weaknesses stronger?


I didn't mean you mate, sorry if it sounded like it. You're a good lad Immortal


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