I would like to dedicate this blog post to fellow foodie and fitness blogger Katie, who operates her blog at katiekdid.com (check her out! She’s a fantastic young woman!). Katie actually asked a question via twitter about why taking a break every 4 weeks was beneficial for strength gains. Katie, I FINALLY got around to writing this all out for you so I hope you find this post useful. I figured I’d write this all off since this week is my “deloading” week from training anyway. And, since my phone has been exploding with text message from people asking me about exercise routines and the best ways to train, I like to take a time out and focus on the necessity of rest and recovery for increasing your training volume.
If you are asking yourself what the hell the term “deloading” even means in terms of fitness, allow me to explain. A deloading period normally lasts a period of about 5 to 10 days depending on how hard you have trained and how intense your training was for the three weeks prior to the deloading period. You can choose to totally abstain form exercising or, you can do very light, modified workouts that will get you moving but not tax your body so much. Information on ways to properly deload can be found here and here.
Now, we all know exercise is beneficial for stress reduction (and here’s the nerdy psych article to prove it), but that doesnt mean that exercise can’t also stress us out as well. As much as I love my high intensity interval traning(HIIT for short) from my iron babies, Russian Kettlebells (as with any other form of HIIT training like Crossfit) are incredibly taxing to your nervous system. In my personal opinnion (and unfortuante experience), overtraining seems more prominent with HIIT than other versions of exercise.
Think about it. You are doing high volume of weight lifting/resistence training at timed intervals so you purposely increase your heart rate. However, with HIIT you are raising your heart rate pretty quickly with very little rest to sustain your heart beat at a higher than normal rate anyway. Obviously, the increases in your heart rate signlas your body to ellicit the “fight or flight” response which creates more adrenaline to flood your system, so on and so forth. That “jacked up” feeling you get after a heavy lift or crazy 15 minute swing interval is your nervous system saying “I AM READY FOR BATTLE BRO! BRING IT!” However, tax your nervous system too much without proper rest to your adrenal system, and you end up with a bad case of over training.
Take it from me, a girl who has learned her lesson the hard way. To date, I have over trained twice. The first time it happened I was new to HIIT. I had just begun with a kettlebell routine and decided to do as much high volume work as I could to start off with because, as an ex-basketball player, I figured I could quickly reach my athleticism again. I did not adhere to the warnings of the fitness manuals I was reading and believed I could just do hardcore workouts as a rookie kettlebeller. Three weeks later I was irritable, exhausted, and suffered from what I will call “ravenous pig syndrome”. No amount of food could sustain my wild appetite and I was noticeably shaky, probably from chronically low blood sugar levels. My adrenal system was seriously pissed at me. As for the second time I over trained? Well, I ended up in an emergency room with low iron levels, a blood sugar level that was barely in the 50’s, escalated blood pressure and a resting heart rate of 107 (just ask any of my co-workers that saw me that day. I apparently “looked like death”). It took me nearly 3 weeks to recover from that episode. This was a major training foul on my part, and trust me, you don’t want to feel like that…EVER!
Thinking about increasing your work-out intensity? I suggest you slow down first before diving into something more insane. Give your body what it needs in terms rest and recovery and you will be able to play harder and longer. You’ll lift heavier, you’ll be able to deal with more demanding interval work outs, and hey, you may even get to enjoy being your goofy self that much more in the off week. Check out what me and my buddy Tegan got around to doing on my deload week!
By the way, in case you were wondering, here is what my deload week looks like.
6 goblet squats
6 rows each side
3 military presses each arm
5 cycles using a 12 kg bell
single get up each side with 12 kg kettlebell
alternate with two hand swings using a 16 kg kettlebell (15 reps of swings).
Thursday: Off Day
one arm swings with 12 kg bell. 10-15 reps per arm. one set consists of completion of right and left arm swings.
30 seconds rest between sets. Total of 15 minutes.
I hope this was helpful for yunz. If you ever have any questions about training and proper recovery, send me your comments on this blog or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to help you out anyway I can.
Speaking of rest and recovery, I need to get to bed. Until next time, remember to eat smart, train hard (but seriously, take a breather now and then), and enjoy your life!
Bed, here I come!