Do Less to Do More

“It’s deload week” can get a bad reaction.


Please don't take away my gainz

Please don’t take away my gainz

The shaking starts, the cold sweat begins. Plotting begins on how to get extra workouts outside the gym when coaches aren’t looking.

Some are more bold and turn Open Gym into “Do these four sweet WODs I found on the internet then max out on every lift because PR BOARD BABY”.

Some storm out of the gym like a good episode of Intervention, screaming something like “I don’t have to stand here and listen to thissssss…!!!!” as they head to a dealer for a fix (the neighboring gym) who will gladly allow them to crush themselves into a bloody, vomiting mess any and every day of the week because liability waivers give some coaches permission to be stupid.

Calm down, and let’s talk about this, because to do more we need to do less.

Let’s say you and a friend from the gym each jump into a car. You’re having a competition to see who can drive the most miles in a week.


Your gas tank is full, you’re cruising, making progress. After a few hours you hear the “ding” of the low fuel alarm, pull over and fill up. Throughout the competition, this is your pattern. Every so often along the trip, you do some extra maintenance – change the oil, check the tire pressure, buy new wiper blades. This takes some time, but you feel it will pay off in the end because it allows you to keep making progress without anything serious holding you up.

The friend from the gym has a different approach. They hear the “ding” and become excited – this is the farthest they’ve come up to this point and they WANT TO WIN and if they just keep pushing they’ll squeeze out a little more progress before they run out of gas and they know they you would have stopped for gas right away so here’s their chance to get….


Well, shit. Car’s out of gas. Now they’re walking down the highway to the nearest gas station, eliminating an hour or two from time they could have spent driving and winning. Instead of CHOOSING to stop for gas, they were FORCED to stop for gas and ended up further behind and in a very, very crappy mood.

Deloads are choosing to stop for gas before you are forced to.

At the beginning of training cycle you’ve got a full tank of gas – the most potential for progress. Joints and muscles feel awesome, mindset is right, energy is high. Training is awesome.

However, the stress of training burns gas. Good nutrition and recovery practices can improve your MPG and delay this process, but the fuel is still being burned. Eventually you will approach an empty tank – joints start to hurt, mindset is not “into it”, energy is low. Sometimes you might “feel” ok, but your weights are tanking, your times are slower, and you don’t know what’s causing it.

PULL OVER. Sooner or later you will HAVE to – either because of injury, burnout, or stalled progress.

Yes, pulling over for gas takes some time. But what happens is that you reestablish your largest potential for progress with a full gas tank. After a period of deload, you can come back into the gym with a fresh mindset and new energy and intensity.

Here’s a handy little picture for those of you who hate words:


Training stimulus – working out. This creates fatigue.

Recovery – Your body rebuilds itself from the accumulated fatigue. This is a period of deload.

Supercompensation – After recovery, your body has rebuilt itself stronger than before to better handle the applied stress of training. You are stronger/faster/better than when the training started.

Stress, recover, progress. (say it like proGRESS, it rhymes and sounds wittier.)

For something slightly less witty, it’s like a gigantic gainz slingshot:

gainz slingshot

gainz slingshot

Pulling back on the band is training – it creates potential. When you let go, this is recovery. The distance the projectile travels is supercompensation – the realization of the the potential you created. Boom.

Hopefully you can figure out what would happen if we eliminated recovery from the picture. You keep pulling back on the band, just keep pulling, just a little more………..

Either the band (your tendons, muscles, ligaments, mental well-being) snaps or you just sit in the grass holding this giant-ass rubberband and nothing happens.

Or you get hit in the face with a watermelon:

Right in the kisser.

Grab your slingshot and deload.

2 thoughts on “Do Less to Do More

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