I'll be honest, after about 4 months of working hard on my health, I didn't go to the gym at all last week... Some people will look at that and will say you're a bum, you're not committed. I say I let life happen and it just wasn't a focus for me last week.
I want to start by saying I didn't just blatantly have a cheat week. I didn't forgo my nutrition, I did however let lifting weights subside last week. It wasn't on purpose, it wasn't planned and looking back at it I messed up. I know I should've done better, I should've done more. I'm not saying I should've continued, I'm saying I shouldn't have blatantly forgone exercise last week. The most exercise I got was the 15 minutes of yoga I do in the morning and the walking I do throughout the day. Besides that last week I didn't get much.
Why Am I Telling You I Messed Up?
First I want to express that everyone's not perfect. Stuff happens, oh well, keep failing forward. Don't let your setback become permanent, it's in the word setback itself. Let them ONLY set you back, then use that as a rubber band to propel farther forward. Learn from your mistakes, from every loss or failure there is a lesson.
The point I'm making is don't let your loses become a streak. I believe that no matter what happens in life, no matter how bad it is, I don't care what it is, there is always a lesson. The difference from those who fail forward and those who fail, are those who fail forward look for the lesson and learn from it.
That's why you'll notice people like Walt Disney who was fired for lack of creativity ended up making one of the most creative ventures in the past century. Steve Jobs who was fired from his own company came back and used that to put Apple above every other company in the world. Michael Jordan who was cut from his high school basketball team, and how has missed more than 9,000 game breaking shots. Oprah Winfrey was demoted from her prior position for not being "fit for television". J.K. Rowling who was rejected by 12 publishing companies, and the famous Colonel Sanders who was rejected 1009 times in his 60's before creating KFC.
There are many, many more examples, even Arianna Huffington, she says,
You need to be in it for the long haul. Work at it, progress, and let the rewards compound. At the beginning the success will seem small, the wins will seem insignificant but if you can just hold it out and push forward, keep failing forward. I promise you will not question the work or the results you receive later. In health and everything in life, it will start off slow, but the more intelligent consistent massive action you take, the more the results will compound.
Best Mistake I Made
Alright, so I missed lifting weights the past week, why does that matter?
Missing the gym last week ended up being a great mistake. The reason is, prior to that I was working out, lifting weights, doing cardio and other exercise for over 16 weeks straight. It was like it was time to deload, and time for my body to recover. I knew about taking a week off of lifting, I understood the concept, but from a practicality perspective I didn't want to. I didn't think it would benefit me as much. I was just in a go-go-go, hustle mentality. Sometimes less is more. It's not always about doing everything you can sometimes you need to plan for less, for a reason.
Building muscle and building strength comes from recovering after lifting, not completely the act of lifting. Humans are not machines and from a simple perspective as to why we aren't meant to work all the time there's time for rest and time for work. This isn't my concept or my theory that rest is good, here, here, here, and here.
The problem I made is I didn't plan for it, nor did I completely do it properly. However I did do it decently well. I didn't neglect my nutrition, nor did I stop doing yoga. I would have however done it slightly differently if I planned for it. I would probably instead make sure I walk a few days for 30-60 minutes in the morning or night. I would do HIIT cardio probably 1-3 days, and I may or may not do body weight exercises for mobility, flexibility sometime during that week.
I don't have complete scientific proof that it benefitted me. I did not gain or lose weight though, as well as I didn't lose any strengths on my lifts. What I did notice however is that after lifting this week I did get more "sore". If you're unfamiliar with the feeling of being sore, you can feel you have torn and built more muscle fibers because the muscle hurts. It's a little contradictory because it hurts, but it's a good pain because you know you made progress. Usually after lifting weights for some times, the sore feeling isn't always there. It is something you notice a lot more when you're starting out.
I noticed I got a lot more "sore" than I have used to been getting. For me that is proof in itself it can be beneficial to have a deload week. Sometimes just understanding and becoming aware of your body you can learn a lot. You just have to pay attention and realize what it's telling you.
How and When Do You Deload
There is no right or wrong way to do this. First of all you should be getting adequate rest in normal lifting weeks, you shouldn't be lifting weights 6-7 days a week, that's useless and you're not getting a ton out of it unless its done properly or with drugs. Your muscle groups need anywhere in the ballpark of 48-72 hours of rest before you can properly use them again.
The way to do the deload week or half-week:
Here's an article on the some science behind it. One of my favorite people in the industry, Michael Matthews, here's his thoughts. The thing about it just like Mike says, if you're not progressively pushing and overloading your muscles a deload week may not have any benefit. If you are though, taking one after 8-10 weeks of it will provide results.
What he suggests is take a deload workout, which is what I wish I did. Instead dial back the lifts and weight, just like T-Nation suggests. You don't do as heavy of weights usually 8-12 repeats and usually only like 3-4 sets of major lifts. No hour long lifting workouts. The point isn't to build muscle, it's to preserve it and use it as a catapult for the following week. Drop your ego and do less. Even he only suggests 3 lifting days during that week, 3 sets and 3 lifts per workout.
Realize that it can help and benefit you by taking a deload week, that it is an overall benefit. If you want some advice for nutrition and fitness grab my free blueprint.
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