To make real progress, de-load now.
If you consistently push hard, it's possible you're overdoing it or your progress has plateaued. Whatever the case, your body might need some R&R to recover so you're ready to train hard again and actually reap the benefits. De-loading is a period of time—usually six to seven days—in athletic training when you lift lighter weights and ease off the intensity during your workouts. “The idea is that this short window of less intense training encourages your body to recover and allows you to jump back into a period of harder training afterwards,” explains Tier X coach Justin Jacobs.
Here, Jacobs has pulled together a six-day de-loading routine that focuses on breathing, massage, low-impact/low-intensity cardio and lifting, as well as meditation to let the body focus on resting so you can physically (and mentally) rebound.
Each day, perform the following sequence:
(1) Begin With Breathing: Start the routine by disconnecting via this breathing routine that Jacobs calls the “4-7-8 Breath.” Start by sitting with your back straight, possibly against a wall with your legs outstretched or criss-cross style. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there throughout the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue. Take in a deep breath then exhale completely through your mouth. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose and mentally count to four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Then exhale completely through your mouth, to a count of eight. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
(2) Roll Out: Think of foam rolling as the deep tissue massage you give yourself. It is especially ideal during a time of deloading as it decreases muscle tension in chronically tight areas (read: the IT Band) while also targeting spots that crave a deeper massage. Use these guidelines to ensure you're using the tool properly throughout these six days.
(3) Prime Your Muscles: It’s critical to get your body warm before moving into any form of exercise no matter how light it will be. Choose from one of these three warmups to get the blood flowing to your muscles and lungs.
Option 1: The Confidence-Building Warm-Up
Option 2: How to Loosen Your Hips
Option 3: The Long Workout Warm-Up
(4)Work Out:After fully prepping your body via breathing, massaging, and warming up, it’s time to dive into your workout. Jacobs chose these three options because they still provide a workout yet allow your body “to chill out a bit and relax,” he says. The idea is that these workouts put your body into a stress-free zone, which promotes faster recovery. “We want to calm down your nervous system, decrease sympathetic tone, which is your body’s fight-or-flight response and increase the body’s parasympathetic tone, which is to rest and digest,” explains Jacobs. Each day, choose one of these three workouts to follow.
Option 1: 20-Minute Workout: Vinyasa Flow
Option 2: Your Smarter Saturday Workout
Option 3: A low-intensity cardio circuit:
- Choose any piece of cardio equipment
- Workout for 30-40 minutes
- Keep your heart rate at 130-140 bpm
- You can stay on one piece of equipment or move from one to another but do not exceed 40 minutes
(6) Breathe (Again):Repeat the above “4-7-8 breath” routine.
(7) Meditate:It’s no secret that meditation can decrease stress—a recent study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that it can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety and depression.; But more importantly, this study also found that meditation has been found to decrease pain, which is critical during de-loading. Jacobs recommends this meditation to end your deloading workout each day.