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Tip of the Month – May 2011 – Unloading

TIP OF THE MONTH 

There are powerful lessons to be learned by understanding the mind/body relationship. As athletes we engage in tremendously difficult physical movements. Increasing our strength and raising the intensity of our training sessions all takes a cumulative toll physically AND mentally.

There is a way to tackle these issues of mental exhaustion and physical fatigue and it can be done in a way that actually increases performance and well-being.

Cycling between periods of hard, intense training and periods of lighter, less intense training is very beneficial and does much for longevity in life and training. Not Periodisation of training per se, but scheduling in short, regular periods of lighter activity and regeneration.

We program unload weeks every 5 weeks. We do this to allow the body to regenerate, recover and literally feel better so we can continue with more intense training in the following weeks. The following positive effects incur when unloading:

  1. Unloading allows the joints and connective tissues to rest. The tissue recovers at a much faster rate as the level of cortisol released is minimised.
  2. Unloading provides an opportunity to focus solely on technique and key aspects of particular movements. By lifting lighter we allow the body and mind to do what it must to lift correctly, because it is not struggling to move a heavy load. The neuro-muscular connection, i.e. the pathway from your brain to your muscles, is reinforced. This is vital to building skill in the execution of a movement and ultimately leads to the lifting of heavier loads.
  3. The mental break from lifting heavy and pushing your absolute max is beneficial to longevity and mental focus. Too hard, too much, too long and self-talk can turn negative.

How can you cycle your training to provide these benefits?
Here are a few tips:

  • Reduce loads, volume or intensity by 50% every 4 – 5 weeks. E.g., If you normally perform most CrossFit workouts as prescribed, you could scale your WOD loads during this week.
  • Take a full week off every 12 weeks
  • Perform the Mobility WOD every day during your Unload Week, www.mobilitywod.com
  • Perform a different bias after your 12-week, week off. You could do a strength biased program, an endurance bias, a weakness bias, a gymnastics bias, whatever you can think of to spice up your training, maintain motivation and improvement.

You MUST schedule regular unload periods in your training

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