Written by Ricky Moore
Most of us who are into Olympic lifting love it for a few reasons – we get to throw heavy weight above our heads; it makes us better for other explosive sports; and it is very technique-driven and therefore very challenging. There is always something to work on!
Even though it is very tempting to test that 1RM almost every day we lift, we must trust the process and not cave to that temptation, especially during “deload week” when our programming has us lifting waaaaaay less than we know we are capable of.
Keeping our egos in check and the above reasons in mind as we approach deload week can help us reframe its purpose, make the most of that time and make it the BEST WEEK!
Think More & Enjoy the Process
When you are working at 85+%, it is better to think less and trust your fundamentals and movement patterns. But deload week is a great time to focus on those fundamentals and the certain parts of your lift(s) you need to improve upon. This is maybe the best time to video your lifts to help yourself focus on working on whatever your “issues” are like staying on the mid-foot as long as possible in your snatch, for example. You’ll have more time to think about and practice what you need to do to become better.
Whatever skill work you need, you will have the opportunity to make real improvement when working at lighter loads so that when it’s time to go heavy again, you’ll have greased the groove for a more automatic lift at the heavier loads.
Give the Body Rest from the Volume & Intensity
You may feel invincible but you can’t go on lifting at those high percentages forever. Not only does your physical body need a little break every now and then, so does your central nervous system (CNS). Both can become worn down and even injured without the proper rest.
If you’ve been having nagging aches and pains, deload week is a great time to address those with some rest and self care. The week away from the heavy weights in itself will do a body good. But also make sure that a part of your deload week includes some sort of body maintenance, whether that be from you to yourself, or making an appointment with a body worker for that much-needed massage.
Lifting at percentages close to your 1RM can also take a toll on the CNS, which plays a huge role in us making our lifts. Your brain does a lot of calculating and thinking even when you aren’t aware it’s doing that – especially with the Olympic lifts. So if you’re feeling sluggish, you aren’t feeling super coordinated, you’re missing lifts you normally make, or you have a combination of overwhelming physical and mental fatigue, it’s time for a deload week.
Focus More on Accessory Work
Even the amazingness of Olympic lifting can have negative effects. The problem with training ONLY the lifts with no implementation of accessory work is wear and tear on the body. The constant loading of a heavy barbell on your joints can and will start to break a body down. What accessory work allows you to do is to increase the volume of training while at the same time taking the stress off a specific joint. Along with allowing an increased workload there are also a lot of options out there including sled work, rope pulling and farmer carries, to name a few. So, don’t worry, you can still move weight during deload week and accessory work is a great way to feel like you’re still getting in an awesome, and beneficial, session but without the toll on the body.
Deload week is time to think, improve and recover! And to get ready to bring it the following weeks!