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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Basic Push, Pull, Legs Routine for Beginners

Push, Pull, Legs

I’ve mentioned on a few of my earlier posts that an excellent place to start in the gym is with a basic Push, Pull, Legs routine. This should be manageable for most with only 3 days needed per week. Each workout should take less than an hour – factor in 1 minute rest between sets and make sure you stay hydrated!

Let’s get started…

Day One – Push (40 minutes)

  • Dumbbell Chest Press (4×10) – To maximise mind-muscle connection with your chest, keep the weight light, squeeze your armpits and focus on bringing your biceps together.
  • Pectoral Fly (3×10)
  • Lateral Raises (3×10)
  • Shoulder Presses (3×10)
  • Tricep Pushdown (3×15) – I find that higher volume helps to engage my triceps – rep out the last set until failure.

Day Two – Pull (45 minutes)

  • Lat Pull Down (3×10)
  • Upright Rows (3×10) – Make sure to depress your shoulders, pull with your elbows and limit any movement at the hip.
  • Deadlifts (3×10)
  • Bicep Curl (4×10) – Feel free to mix this between dumbbells, barbells and cables – even within the one session!
  • Hammer Curl (4×10)

Day Three – Legs (40 minutes)

  • Leg Extensions (4×12)
  • Leg Press (4×12)
  • Leg Curls (4×12) – Make sure you squeeze the hell out of your hamstrings at the top of the curl. Think of this one as a bicep curl for your legs.
  • Calf Raises (4×12)

Starting out, I would recommend utilising this programme for around 6-8 weeks before tailoring further to maximise your progress and gains. Make sure to track your reps and weights each week and look to make small, incremental improvements each time you set foot in the gym.

If you want to add extra days into the programme, make sure any cardio you do is on a different day to the Push, Pull, Legs sessions or use additional visits to focus on improving form and practicing weak points. Make sure to leave enough rest between Push and Pull – think of using a Monday. Wednesday, Friday split.

Let me know how it goes on Twitter or in the comments below.

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