Why Do We Include a Dedicated De-Load Cycle?
Because any strength training program worth a shit understands the basic physiological benefit of structured stress management.
No? Not enough? Fine.
If you are a savvy Performance360™ member then you likely have spotted the two times per year our de-load cycle (“Fast Times”) comes around. Specifically, it occurs every five months in our program and lasts four weeks. In this de-load cycle, we do not feature any barbell lifts on our dedicated STRENGTH days. In their place we build strength with heavy load still, we just replace them with kettlebells and dumbbells. We do this for the following reasons.
Make Better Gains
The reason that beginners always make such incredible progress in their first two years is a phenomenon known as Newbie Gains. Seriously. Think about lifting weights for the first time like drinking alcohol. The first time you ever drank alcohol, you likely got buzzed on a beer or two. It’s a new stimulus and your body was sensitive to it. Well, same goes for strength training. Because a newbie’s body is completely un-trained, it makes fast adjustments with the central nervous system and motor leaning, which are the two foundational components of strength as we know it.
The body is like a sponge with that new stimulus, just ready to soak up anything that’s thrown at it, so strength in those first few years tends to only go one way on the graph.
Then, the body gets used to it and gains are harder to come by. You only make little jumps here and there versus constant massive improvement.
By taking a structured break away from heavy barbell training, aka a “de-load”, it’s like hitting a quick reset button for your body to experience a form of those Newbie Gains all over again, only you don’t lose the progress that you made.
Only structured recovery allows this…or steroids.
Our program is hard. It lifts lots of weights and demands a daily expression of strength. The same reason it works incredibly well is also the same reason it needs a break. Stress. The short of training is that there are two forms of stress. Distress, which is bad stress that causes your body to break down and eustress, positive stress that creates adaptation. If you constantly pound the heavy weights and never take a break from them, you’ll turn that happy eustress into a sad face distress.
Easily placed under the ‘recovery’ flag, it is better as its own category so we can specifically understand what’s actually getting recovered. Your body will always welcome a break from the strength stuff in joints like your shoulder, spine, hips, knees, and elbows. Joint failure is typically what takes folks out of the strength training game. Preserve them, and you extend your shelf life.
Constantly worrying about what’s on the barbell is not a fun way to live in the gym. For some of you, you fall into that world of getting anxiety over always progressing rather than just enjoying the benefits of training. De-loads are just as much for your mental benefit as they are physical. So stop being crazy for a month and have some fun.
A training de-load is an essential part of a well rounded training program. While it can be tough, learn to embrace it and it will not only extend your training prime long term, but will provide near term results that may otherwise not occur without a break.