You Gotta Deload to Reload

Reload to Reload
Studies tend to show that taking a short time away from the gym doesn’t have any significant impact on muscle mass or strength, meaning that you can factor them into your schedule every couple of months as required.

However, some of us don’t like taking periods of time off which is understandable given the HUGE benefits to overall wellbeing and mental clarity. A way to ensure you don’t miss any days while also avoiding burnout is to deload.

But what is deloading and when should you consider it? A deload is a period of time, generally lasting around a week, during which you take a break from your normal training routine; giving your muscles, joints and nervous system the opportunity to recuperate from weeks of hard training.

There are a few different ways to deload but all essentially focus on a reduction of output, which you can achieve through either less volume or less weight. Personally, I like to focus on lower weights, which I use to help improve form and mind-muscle connection. I generally to stick with the same pattern / routine that I’ve been running in the weeks previous but pushing up into the 15 rep range with around a 30% reduction in weight.

I don’t like to plan deloads in advance, instead listening to my body and looking for hints in terms of plateaus and increased recovery time to signal when it’s time to step back slightly. Another reason for doing this is to make sure you don’t miss out on any sessions when your body and mind feel 100% but you’ve decided in advance to take it easy; potentially losing out on PRs and all kinds of gains!

Obviously, you can reduce the need for rest through optimising your nutrition, supplementation and sleep but most natural lifters will eventually find aches, pains and plateaus creeping up sooner or later. When they do, it’s time for you to deload to reload.

Do you factor periods of deloading into your training plans? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.

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How to Train for Weight Loss

It’s true, training for weight loss isn’t the most enjoyable part of any fitness or bodybuilding journey but it is one we will all tackle at some point. There are millions of complex diets and fad products preying on those with weight loss goals but, truth is, the core drivers of weight loss are fairly straightforward.

So, to help you along the way, and keep you away from the fit teas, here are some tips on how to train for weight loss…

Lower the Calories

Weight loss will be achieved through creation of a calorie deficit – the bigger the deficit, the more drastic the weight loss. Initially, you should aim to eat at around 300-500 calories under your maintenance requirements per day as a starting point. Anything more than this will risk muscle loss alongside the fat.

Increase the Cardio and Up the Volume

Another way to maintain a calorie deficit, particularly if you enjoy your food (and don’t we all!) is through an increase in cardio work. Coupling this with your diet is the most sustainable plan and the one most likely to deliver results. Just keep in mind that it’ll take you 20 minutes on the treadmill to burn off that bar of chocolate!

An unfortunate by-product of training on a calorie deficit is that you will notice a decline in strength. It’s inevitable and almost impossible to overcome for natural lifters. You’ll need to accept this and may benefit from focusing more on volume rather than strength during your workouts.

Maintain Consistency and Continually Adjust Macros 

This might seem like an obvious point but weight doesn’t fall off in even measures and you might go some time without any noticeable drop in the scale. Remember, as you lose weight, you will need to keep on top of your daily calories and macros as they will drop as your weight does. For example, if 1,800 calories took you from 170 – 160 pounds and your goal is to lose more, you’ll need to recalculate, and lower to account for your new weight.

Keep your Protein Intake High

Maintaining muscle through cutting weight is the most difficult element for those not partaking in questionable substances. Your best chance of keeping the gains is by sticking with a protein intake of around 1g per pound of body weight.

So, those are some tips on how to train for weight loss. Do you equate minutes of cardio with chocolate bars? How do you deal with declining strength on a calorie deficit??

Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.

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3 Signs It’s Time To Switch Up Your Workout Plan

workout plan
When taking on a new workout plan, the key things to look out for are sustainability and the potential to produce the results you are hoping to achieve. But what happens when that plan stops working for you?

Here are 3 signs it’s time to switch things up…

Results have plateaued

It’s completely normal to see quick results at the beginning of a new workout plan – that’s your body adapting. It’s also normal for this to fall away slightly as you move into weeks 3 & 4 – that doesn’t mean the plan isn’t working, it’s just a reminder that real results don’t come in 6 – 8 weeks! Having said that, if you saw results in the beginning but have noticed things stagnating recently, it could be time to switch things up. You don’t necessarily have to rip-up your whole plan, try simple changes like swapping volume for lower, heavier reps and sets or switching from machines to free weights.

You’re not getting results

If you’ve given things around 6 weeks and have noticed no real changes in strength, physique or conditioning, it’s definitely time to change. Every exercise doesn’t work for every individual and every plan doesn’t suit either. Remember, your ideal workout plan should be be tailored to your needs – try as many as you need to, note what works from each and make your own!

You’re bored

This is an often overlooked but important factor to consider. If you are bored, you are WAY more likely to miss workouts as a result of lost motivation. Regardless of what results you might achieve on the programme, you won’t get them outside the gym so you need to find a way to get yourself motivated and back on schedule.

How often do you switch things up? What tricks do you use to keep yourself motivated at the gym??

Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.

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