‘Deload week’ explained

The perceived idea that you generally need to constantly lift heavier, has it’s advantages, but also does including a deload week into your regime.

Setting goals for your lifts is very motivating and once you hit those goals, you should set new ones. I’m a big fan of taking a step back though and reaffirming things like tempo and form by doing a lighter week – this is called a deload week.

During my deload week, I generally vary my eccentric, concentric, isometric tempos and the intensity I’m exerting myself to, by using a lighter weight of about 50% of my 1RM. I find this allows my ligaments and tendons to have a rest period from the heavy loading and also a greater chance to grow to accommodate the new muscle i’ve introduced to my joints, from my heavier weeks. With the growth of your muscles, means your ligaments and tendons need to grow too, but they don’t grow as fast, as they’re not as fibrous as muscle fibre.

Another thing I enjoy from my deload week is being able to test the performance of the new strength I’ve gained – this often leads me to the conceptual thoughts about what lifestyle activities I may now be capable of, outside of the gym – after all, we are all training for a greater quality of life right?

Importance of unilateral training

Single-limb ‘Unilateral’ training is a big driver of a strong and balanced physique

What is unilateral training?

This term means to perform an exercise that works one limb independently or are more targeted towards one limb. Examples of unilateral exercises are; single cable lat pull, single stiff-leg deadlift, single arm bench rows etc. Being different from bilateral training, the exertion may not be as high on the body, but the benefits are worth it.

Benefits of unilateral training?

• Allowing the body to even out any strength or size imbalances
• Correcting postural differences, which can sometimes be made worse through bilateral training
• Strengthening stabilising muscles by forcing the joint to recruit more muscle fibre

I myself have some strength differences within my body and so I frequently ensure I encompass unilateral exercises into my routine.

Do you do unilateral exercises and what are your thoughts on the aid of progressing your exercises along?

Improve your strength

Strength is an important component of success in most athletics events, and therefore should be an essential part of most training programs. The time spent in training for strength should be proportional to the requirement for these components in your event, and your deficiencies in this area.

Strength is the maximal force you can apply against a load, and power is proportional to the speed at which you can apply this maximal force. Training to improve in this area can include lifting weights, throwing heavier implements, running against a resistance, and plyometrics (depth jumping and bounding).

Improvements in strength follow the overload principle. That is, to increase muscle strength the muscles need to be stressed with a load greater than normal. The muscles are thus stimulated to adapt to the increased load.

The exercises chosen should be specific to the muscle groups used and the actions performed in your event. Variation is also important to maximize the gains in strength. Varying intensity (amount of rest, weight lifted) and volume (repetitions, sets, sessions per week), provides greater stimulus for strength gains than simply following a set program and progressively increasing the amount of weight lifted. Weight training three times a week, with at least one day between sessions is generally adequate. Rest days between sessions are necessary for recovery and the adaptation to take place.

Not everyone wants to be like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and nor do they have to be. Strength training is suitable for most events, males and females. With the help of an expert, a program specific for your needs can be designed by varying such things as the exercises, repetitions, sets, weight lifted and number of sessions per week.

Top 5 mistakes every gym member makes

1. Focusing on your phone

The thought of going to the gym doesn’t exactly thrill most people so it only makes sense to get your workout done in as little time possible.
That means eliminating ALL distractions. So resist the urge to check your inbox every 30 seconds or look at your Facebook page during your workout.
If you’re emailing or reading you’re not working out hard enough to lose weight.

2. No goal and no plan

Far too often people walk into the gym without a training plan or routine and try to wing it. This leads to confusion and the person doesn’t get the most out of the session.
You should have a very specific goal and a progressive programme that helps you achieve that goal.

3. Endless cardio

If you are training to lose body fat then you should not be using the treadmill, cross trainer, or bike for long periods of time.
People still believe that the calorie burn on cardio machines is the best way to lose body fat. This is a mistake.
The best way to lose body fat is to use HIIT (high-intensity interval training). Choose a machine or exercise and work as hard as you can for 30 to 60 seconds and take that same amount of time to recover.
Repeat this for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on your fitness level, and you will shred the pounds.

4. Skipping a workout

Even when you don’t think you have time – you do.
Even 10 minutes of exercise has an impact on the body and you can sneak that much into your day anywhere.
If you start skipping workouts you won’t see the results and this will have a negative effect on your motivation levels.
It makes more sense to give it 100% effort, make every workout, and reap the rewards as a result.

5. Improper exercise technique

When you don’t know how to use a machine or perform an exercise properly you can easily confuse mechanical inefficiency with calorie burn.
Doing an exercise wrong can also lead to injury. If you get injured you can’t work out – and if you can’t work out you won’t be burning calories in the gym.
You can get an experienced gym instructor to do the rounds with you or consider hiring a personal trainer to get things done properly.

Simple principles for your next workout

There are many ways to increase the effectiveness of your training session.

Here are a few things to consider when planning for your next training session.

Rest Periods

60 second rest in between sets prevents the body from shuttling away the lactate acid being built up as a by product of energy production and expenditure. Lactate acid has been identified as an significant precursor in muscle hypertrophy through Insulin Growth Factor 1 (IGF1).
90 second rest periods increase your bodies Human Growth Hormone (HGH) levels and is attributed to Myofibril hypertrophy.
3 minutes and above should be used when completing reps with a weight above 80% of your 1RM, it also raises your bodies testosterone levels and is typically assocaited with sarcoplasmic hypertrophy.
Total Workload

Total workload is a combination of sets, reps and resistance e.g. 5 sets of 5 reps at 5 Kg would be a total of 125 Kg workload.
These variables can easily be manipulated to suit your type of training and meet your goals.