This week of programming involves some opportunities to "go heavy", in final preparation for The Open, and the metcons will also refle
ct the style of workouts you will see in The Open. Have fun this week, push into those dark recesses of your pain cave, and get comfortable in there.
Next week we will do a de-load throughout the week, so that everyone is fully recovered, and itching to push themselves again.
What is a De-load?
First off, that's a great question, and I'm glad you asked. Simply stated, in a de-load period the coach or programmer will either reduce the intensity of work for a given period, or decrease the volume for a given period to allow the athlete to recover. This becomes more of a concern with longer training histories.
De-loading by intensity would be most easily put as, going lighter. The final week before a de-load might look something like 4-6 sets of 2-3 reps @ (30x1) tempo. High intensity, roughly 12.5 seconds of time under tension/set, which means that this is "intense" work, the kind that might have an advanced athlete seeing stars on their last couple sets. The next week is planned as a de-load week, since the athlete is reaching fatigue by this time of the cycle, and need to allow their body to recover. The de-load weeks might look something like 3 sets of 6-8 reps (21x1) tempo. The load is lighter and this will not tax the body in the same way that the previous week did, which will allow it to recover more fully.
De-loading by volume is most easily stated as "doing less work". To use the above example, with the last week before a deload looking something like 4-6 sets of 2-3 reps @ (30x1) tempo. To deload by volume the programmer would reduce the total amount of work completed. So, the deload week by volume might look something like 2-3 sets of 2-3 reps @ (30x1) tempo. The intensity remains high, but we are doing less sets, and therefore not pushing as deep into the CNS cave, and will be able to recover better.
Why would someone de-load?
Another great question! The idea of periodization, or de-loading is not new, and has been around forever. It continues to be used because it works, and keeps people training at their optimal level for longer periods of time, and also reduces the risk of over-training.
First off, we need to talk a little bit about how our body reacts to our training. Depending on the training history of the person in question, things will look differently but for simplicity sake, we'll assume that beginners are one class, and advanced, are another class.
Someone with a low training history (0-2 years) will complete workouts, get muscle soreness, but they are generally fully recovered between workouts (even though they might still be a bit stiff), or at least fully recovered by the next week of training. This is because, since they are new to the game, when they lift weights, they are not yet able to dig super deep into their CNS system, and produce lifts that really tax their system. This is an exciting time in someones lifting career, because they can work their butts off, get a response from almost any exposure, and come back faster, stronger, etc. It is easier for these people to get a response from their body, even without the intensity needed by a more advanced lifter. De-loading is not a major concern for these folks, but as they get more advanced, things will change.
Someone with a long training history (5+ years) will have a much different experience. Since they have been in the game for a long time, their body is extremely well-adapted to getting through training sessions, and it will take a lot of work (weeks/months/years with some populations) to break down a targeted area enough to grow back faster/stronger/bigger. They will need to put in a lot of volume at a high intensity to get benefit from their work, and this will only continue to increase the longer they train. As a result, these people need to work extremely close to their threshold to get results, but this is a dangerous line to walk, as over-training is right around the corner. To ensure that people do not over-train, and have a chance to recover, programmers will write in de-load weeks, which gives the body enough of a break to recover more than they do from their usual training. This population will also generally need to de-load before being able to PR a lift, or do as well as possible in a competition, because they are working in a fatigued state (still safe) for months at a time on occassion.
For this reason, people who want test out their 1 rep maxes every week, or lift at too high of a percentage to their 1rm, might grease out a kilo or so, once in awhile, but they are never giving their body a chance to recover from such a taxing endeavour, and will not see results.
Lastly, this isn't worth a paragraph, so I will simply say that No, you will not lose strength when you de-load, which is a common concern. You will gain strength, feel better, sleep better, and come back ready to dominate.
Once again, Rest shows its value, and continues to be a necessity for anyone wanting to push themselves in the gym.
Enjoy and get after it this week,
Crossfit 46 Coaching Staff