I just transitioned out of a couple months of a planned and scheduled off-season of 12 weeks where I pulled back on intensity, volume and loads. Since my DNF at the Bigfoot 200 in mid-August the longest run I’ve done is 7 miles and I’ve only hit worked with 455 on squat and deadlift a few times.I have kept the loads to 405 for most of my workouts. I’ve mostly kept to sets of 5 reps or more. My upper body work has been all with dumbbells. I feel great and had my first real training session last week…pulled 4 doubles at 500 and ran 4 miles in just under 30 minutes. Excited about training again!
SCHEDULED and PLANNED as part of my training and as opposed to the “off-season” many, if not most athletes, take…the type forced by injury. I have been pushing a little hard for the last couple of years…hell, it is arguable the last 22 or so have been rough. Yet it has been 5 years since I had a training injury. I did fracture my foot during an Ironman, but that was a fall while exiting the water, not training related. During this time I began implementing scheduled deload weeks (I call them reloads… sounds cooler!) and have taken at least a 6-week off-season after my A event of the year.
I deload every third week, a method I adopted from multiple record-setting lifter and author of 10/20/Life, Brian Carroll (highly recommended reading). So I (and all the athletes I train) train hard for two weeks and then pull back to half volume, half intensity and half loads for the third week. I suggest this template to all athletes, young or old, elite or beginner. It works. Instead of being hurt and working thru it, athletes remain healthy. It is prioritizing recovery at, or higher than, training itself.
The benefits of a scheduled off-season and deloads/reloads became apparent to me when I implemented it in my programming for my CF Games athletes. Those nagging injuries we all had went away and we all improved drastically.The most important lesson and proof of concept came while I was training for, and after I hit, The 666 Challenge. That really took it out of me. I was beaten up mentally and physically as I had undoubtedly been pushing my personal limitations for months on end. I’ll likely never squat and deadlift 600lbs again… at least not the squat. Still have the sub 6-minute mile though! (maybe I’ll do it again at 50!! Ha). It really took a lot out of me.
After a 4-week off-season the consisted of no stress sessions of mostly dumbbell and unilateral work I felt great again and began training hard again.It was only 4 weeks rather than 8 or 12 because I had the 106 West Triathlon (highest elevation triathlon in the world) in only four months and needed to get the endurance back up after being in sprint/speed mode.
After the 106 West race I took a 12-week off-season and then began training for the Bigfoot 200 with a goal of finishing it while maintaining a 500lbs squat and 550lbs deadlift…one out of two ain’t bad. I DNF’ed at mile 131 but did keep the 500 and 550, respectively. We did a Youtube series on it. check it to see what went down and how we trained for it. There is no doubt in my mind the reason we were able to handle those loads while also running the volume we did during train up for the BF2 was the reloads and off-seasons.
Give it try and see for yourself.I wager you will have similar, if not better, results than I have.