Whoever said deload week was supposed to be easy is off his nut. This morning, my wife and I hit the gym at 8 a.m. right when Bryce unlocked the doors, and I spent the next 75 minutes or so trying to kill myself.
Well, not really, but I can tell you that at the other end of my deload workout, I feel tired and sore, but in a good way.
Bryce hadn’t had a chance to turn on the lights by the time I got to the squat rack, and I was just pulling one of the benches into the rack when he flipped them on. Only other person with me in the free weight room right then was a younger gal, probably in her 30s, who works out Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. I think she’s a nurse or some other sort of medical practitioner. We don’t talk much, although this morning we said “hi” to each other and I mentioned that she was wearing a really bright color of red just to tease her. She normally favors black.
Anyway, deload week. I only had a semi-plan for what I was going to do and thought I’d play it by ear, making adjustments as I monitored my body and experience. I didn’t think I had to stick to a strict form of deloading, just lighten things up and maybe throw some different exercises into the mix.
Here’s how Sunday morning went.
Back Squats in Squat Rack w/Bench
10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
Barbell Bench Press
10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
Dumbbell Bent Over Rows (5×10)
Dumbbell Bench Press (5×10)
Core and Mobility Work
Bodyweight Roman Chair Back Ext
x10, x10, x10, x10, x10
Bodyweight Captain’s Chair Leg Lifts
x10, x10, x10, x10, x10
Bodyweight Engaged Hang
Bodyweight Dead Hang
Weighted Cable Ab Crunch
Roman Chair Back and Ham Stretch
Bar Supported Squat Stretch
As you can see, I crammed a lot of work into 75 minutes. My wife was surprised I blew through my main lifts plus some core work so quickly.
Anyway, back to the details. I forced myself to keep my squats “light.” I put that word in quotes because also forcing myself to sit on that bench every single rep was murder, especially at 135 pounds. Each time I pressed up with my legs, my quads bitterly complained, tearing a loud groan out of my throat with every upward push.
But I got my butt on that bench each and every rep for all my sets. Some of them were touch and go, others were where I planted my rear on the seat for almost a second at a time and then stood up again.
When I was loading my bar for 135 pounds, I put the safety bars in place. Although I was able to get out of the bottom of the hole, when I was making my attempts, I wasn’t sure how it would work out. Better safe than sorry.
I briefly thought of increasing the weight, but this is supposed to be about “rest” and changing things up, not seeking the next PR. Getting my thighs parallel to the floor on each squat was the goal and 135 pounds was plenty of weight.
Bench presses worked pretty much the same way. At first I thought a max weight of 125 pounds would be too light, but again, the goal was to get that bar to touch my chest for every single rep. I did it too, but I admit that it wasn’t easy to get 5 reps per set at 125 pounds. Just to defy the weight, I did 6 reps for the final set.
For assistance lifts, I thought I’d switch out barbell bent over rows for dumbbell rows bracing myself against a bench. I haven’t done these in a while and thought I’d give myself a break and only use a pair of 45 pound dumbbells. The weight was sufficient to get me sweating and breathing heavy between sets, but I still had some gas left in the tank by the end of the last set.
Same weight for dumbbell bench presses. I could feel the triceps in my left arm weakening starting in the third set but kept using the same weight, even getting in a few extra reps on that last set, just for giggles.
I doubled up on my bodyweight lunges just because I could. Still have balance problems on some of the reps, but others went pretty well.
Decided to superset back extensions and leg lifts and both my lower back and gut held up for 5 sets at 10 reps per.
I looked for the missus and she was still doing machine leg presses. This was when she was surprised that I was done with my usual routine in just an hour. I told her to keep going and that I’d find other things to do.
I hadn’t done bodyweight hangs in a while and decided to see what I had left in me. I was planning on 45 seconds max because my arms were really tired. I did 30 seconds with my shoulders engaged but they wore out, so I dropped into a dead hang and forced my hands to keep their grip on the bars for another 30.
When I extended my legs to touch the floor again and let go of the bars, I thought I wouldn’t be able to straighten out my fingers for a few seconds.
My wife was still going through her routine, so I decided to do some weighted cable crunches, another favorite from months past that I have since abandoned. I kept the weight modest at 130 pounds but still managed 5 sets.
At that point, I was really done. My wife was winding down her routine but had a few things left, so I decided to do something I don’t normally do…stretch.
I mounted the roman chair and just let my spine and hams feel the pull for a couple of “sets”. I was anticipating my visit with Kasey the chiropractor and hoped I could loosen a few things up so my adjustment wouldn’t hurt so bad this time.
Afterward, I stretched out my quads and then used bar supported squats just to stretch myself out by staying at the bottom of the hole and moving about some.
That’s when the missus was well and truly done with her work. We called it at exactly 75 minutes since we’d entered the gym. When I got through in the weight room, it had actually gotten crowded, but by now, only shaved head guy and one other fellow were doing anything with free weights.
So that’s a “deload,” huh? I guess I proved Chase’s (my personal trainer) point that you don’t have to go heavy to get a good workout in.
My thighs especially feel sore post-workout, but I guess that’s the consequence to getting low on each rep, even with a pretty moderate weight.
I’ve since gone with the missus to our chiropractor Kasey. As I mentioned last time, he’s got a nice, big place out away from Boise and Meridian. It’s a neighborhood, but basically it’s at the edge of rural land. He’s got a dog and chickens and a mother-in-law house in the back where he does his chiropractic adjustments on weekends.
Since I didn’t have to fill out forms this time, I got to see Kasey work on my wife first. She talked about her various symptoms and he related that back to how nerves work and how muscles are stupid. My wife gritted her teeth and moaned and groaned through the adjustment.
And then it was my turn.
Although I didn’t like it last time, the result seemed to be positive. This time, I think because I knew more what to expect, I tightened up more and things didn’t move around as much as my previous adjustment. He did something new. He put something on my back and then gave it a whack, like he was hitting it with a hammer. I couldn’t see, of course since my face was buried in his chiropractic bench or couch or whatever you call it.
Kasey told my wife that he uses this technique with people like me who’ve never been adjusted before (well, only once before) and who tend to tighten up when he works on them. He says he believes adjustments are beneficial “from birth to dirt.” I’ll reserve judgment.
He used the vibrator/power tool on me again. Ouch.
Lots of pulling, pushing, jumping on me and stuff. Some parts of me popped but not as much as last time. The net result is that I’ve got a sort of headache sitting right at the base of my neck. He probably mobilized something, since I tend to hold a lot of nervous tension in my neck and shoulders.
Next week more adjusting, same Bat time, same Bat channel. I still have to finish the rest of deload week first. Tomorrow, overhead press and deadlifts.
There is no reason to be alive if you can’t do the deadlift!
–Jon Pall Sigmarsson