Training is one thing I truly enjoy in life.  One of my favorite parts of the week is Saturday. If I am not coaching, I sleep in, eat two good meals, open up the gym after hours to train with 3-4 of my friends who are serious athletes. I am the runt of the litter. On big training days I wake up excited, and it’s always been this way.  Some athletes need to be pushed, some need to be contained.  I fall right into the latter, and sometimes to my detriment.

Historically, I have not really used the deload week the way I should.  It’s my weakest link in programming.  I wait until I start feeling like a broken slug, add another two weeks, then take 4-5 days off.  I can’t stand not doing SOMETHING physical and actually feel guilty if I take extra days off.  I know better but just can’t seem to shake that mindset.

The last 6 weeks have been a huge training block, heavy Olympics, heavy squats, heavy bench, heavy deadlift; basically every day, I moved 150% of my bodyweight on a bar or more.  Which is great, strength is cool.  Injuries are not.  To add to the neural fatigue, 12 plus hour days of coaching superset with writing articles and forming the new business, it kinda adds up.  I’ve been losing sleep for weeks and compensating with delicious coffee.

Monday of this week was a day off, and Tuesday was a light Olympic/bench day.  Right away, snatches felt terrible, and the one jerk I did felt awful.  A few sets of bench in and I called it.  For once I made the smart choice.  Next week was going to be a deload week, but that got bumped up to this week, and I’m psyched!  Not so much for the days off, and knowing next week I’ll feel like a spring chicken on pre workout just naturally, but because I’m finally mature enough to say “It’s time to let off the throttle.”

Having turned 30 in May I’ve finally started to look ahead a little and think about things like “Do I want to be able to train like this when I’m 35? 40? 50?”.  Yes, I do.  Realistically, I’ve probably got my athletic peak coming up in the next 3-5 years if I do it right.  If I do it wrong I might already be on the back 9 like so many people I know.  This means more rest days, more time spent recovering than actually training and generally not being an idiot.  Joint injuries and soft tissue trauma add up, and nothing in the gym is worth getting actually injured over.  I’m taking the rest of the week to decompress mentally as well, and prepare for the month ahead, which is sure to be “interesting.”

Discipline is a funny thing.  When it comes to training we typically think it means waking up early sometimes, not eating garbage, pushing yourself, and just not slacking off.  Notice anything missing?  Having the discipline to let off the throttle and recover.  That’s right, having the self-control to literally do nothing at times can be advantageous in the long run.  Knowing when to just say no.

On the sciencey end of things, if you’re feeling the effects of cumulative fatigue, it’s too late.  You’re already there.  Moving forward I will plan deload weeks and take them off regardless of how I feel.  I suggest you do the same.

Zac Hales

TPI-FP3
NASM-CPT
USA Weightlifting Sport Performance Coach