Good morning! It’s been a few weeks since we’ve had a Sunday Sweat Talk.
Let’s talk about…
The past week has definitely been an off week for me, in both my workouts and in my day-to-day. After my test the week before and my weekend away in Vermont, I was already feeling generally “behind” in things like cleaning the house, bills, getting some things done for the weddings I’m in this summer, and keeping up with this blog. I’m getting better at going with the flow for that kind of stuff, but this week other life things just got in the way. I overslept on Monday, which threw off my entire day and workout plan. On Wednesday night, I was in the emergency room with a family member until 4am (everything is okay), so I did not teach my Thursday morning class. I also called out sick from work and cancelled plans I had to meet up with Steph and Caroline for dinner that night. I honestly just felt exhausted to the max, and only yesterday did I finally feel a little more rested.
Because life just sometimes gets in the way, my workouts were a little less frequent and less intense last week, especially toward the end:
Morning yoga class with Perfect Vermont
20 minute walking incline treadmill workout + lifting for upper body
Took Liz’s kickboxing class, and taught a lower body and abs focused class in my class
2 mile very light run
I feel like a past Athena would have harped on this, but to be honest, I welcomed the extra rest days this week. I simply did not have enough energy to give it my all at the gym, which sometimes is more frustrating to me than skipping workouts all together. I know that this kind of week is an exception, not the norm, and I’ll be just fine once things calm down a bit.
This week was certainly not planned, but adding deliberate deload weeks or days into my training plan is something I actually want to start paying more attention to as an essential part of progressing more with some of my heavier lifts. Deload weeks don’t necessarily need to be a full week, but they do involve deliberate and planned time off from training, time that lasts more than just one or two days. It’s time taken to honor your body because you know that you’ve worked hard and your body it needs to recover, repair, and grow stronger.
Some people might think that deload weeks are a waste of time or an excuse to be lazy and not go to the gym. However, there is a lot of scientific research out there that speaks to their benefits, breaking out of fitness plateaus being just one of them. For a couple of articles on the benefits of deload weeks, check out this post on Tony Gentilcore’s site and this post by Mark Sisson. <—both great resources.
If you are not following a training plan that already has deload weeks built into it, here are some signs you should look for that indicate you may need to scale back a little:
- Plateauing or getting weaker — when you cease to see progress and your lifts are suffering, decreased performance
- Excessive soreness — sore joints, certain parts of the body consistently “nagging” at you, delayed recovery time
- Disinterest in exercise — not getting enjoyment in an activity you usually really like doing
- Physical indications — lack of energy (like me this week!), mood changes, fatigue, etc.
So what are some ways you can deload? You don’t have to stop completely and throw yourself into complete rest or a sedentary lifestyle for the week. Yes, some days should be complete rest, but on the other days you can try “unloading” as opposed to “deloading” by decreasing your weights, sets, and reps. Work on joint mobility. Stretch. Throw in some active recovery workouts such as walking or light jogging or rowing. Do yoga. Foam roll.
Oh, and one more thing. Taking a deload week is NOT going to make you “fat” or cause you to lose all your progress. So get that out of your head right now. Stick with your nutrition, get back into the swing of things the following week (as long as your body isn’t telling you otherwise), and you’ll be just fine.
Readers, time to chat. Do you consider deload weeks an essential part of your training plan? Do you take more time than just one rest day to allow your body proper recovery? What are your favorite ways to actively recover? What are some ways you allow yourself to just go with the flow when life gets in the way?
For more Sunday Sweat Talk topics:
- My Hangover Workout
- January Joiners
- Helping or Harassing
- One Month of Heavier Lifting
- The Problem With Online Fitness Challenges
- Grip Strength and Ankle Update
- MMA Fighter Fit Certification
- Strength Training Plateaus
- Why I Love My Gym Friends
- Exercising While Sick
- Next Fitness Star: Power Sculpt Series
Good for you! I also think that “rest weeks” are very important in order to continue to build muscle and strength. I had a hard time understanding this concept at first, but it really does make a difference when you get back into training the next week. I will generally take a whole week of easy easy workouts without too much strain. My favorite way to actively recover is to go for a walk with my dog. It makes her happy, so it makes me happy, too!
Thanks for sharing this.
It took me a long time to understand this too! Having a pet is definitely a great built in active recovery activity. We don’t have a pet, but we try to walk as much as possible!
I’m glad that you listened to your body and took those extra rest days. I’m like you – it has taken me years to get to the point where I can be OK with rest days. I don’t take them often but I have learned to pay more attention and take them when I know I need to!!!
I hope that your family member is OK!!
It’s definitely taken me a while to get here. Thanks, Kim! All is well now. Here’s to a less stressful week!
First I just want to say that I’m glad everyone is ok!! We’ll meet up soon, and I can’t wait, but you have to take care of yourself and family first of course! I do schedule deload weeks into my programs usually — but lately there have been a couple of times when I’ve gone a good 8-10 weeks straight with no deload, and have ended up completely exhausted/constantly sore. I’ve found that a week of lighter workouts every 4-6 weeks or so helps me recharge and really helps my progress!
Thanks, Steph! I always like hearing how you incorporate different things into your strength programs! I’m looking forward to a hopefully less stressful week. I’m traveling for work, but usually those weeks force me to slow down a little bit. 🙂
I’m embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t heard of a “deload” week until this post! But, I do think they are necessary, I just wish I was better at them. I am going to take this week a little lighter, though, since I’m not trying to cram in extra classes to use my ClassPass. I hope you have a great week traveling- I, too, tend to slow down a bit and lose some of my Monique-craziness when I travel 🙂
I think for people who struggle with the concept of rest, deloading is probably a more helpful way to think about it! I never thought about it much when I wasn’t lifting heavier, but now I definitely see the benefits!
Late to comment – sorry – but wanted to say that I’m super-impressed with your run on Thursday after your ER experience (glad everything is okay). I really appreciate your approach to this idea of “deload” weeks, as I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking more-more-more instead of focusing on smart progression in my running and lifting. So, thanks!
Thank you! I was trying to clear my head, but I think physically I was just too exhausted. I should have stayed put. 🙂 You’re welcome for the post!