A Powerlifter’s Timeout
By Zach Fant
Deload: The reduction of intensity of one’s physical training, as a sort of recovery period.
Deload weeks are great for recovery in allowing your body to rest from weeks of hard training, Right? But what if we’re missing the bigger picture? Deloads are more than just a time for allowing the body to heal, they’re a time to take a step back and reevaluate your body mechanics, reset your mind and refocus on the task at hand. Timeouts are allowed in sports so players and coaches can stop and refocus, recover and make needed adjustments. A well-timed timeout can change the outcome of the game. Deloads are a powerlifters timeout, use them wisely.
We often overlook the possible benefits and opportunities a well-timed deload presents. This is a perfect opportunity to reinforce good habits without the added factor of heavy loads and/or variations and stresses of having to hit certain numbers. This allows you to spend more time and focus on the actual technique and body mechanics while performing the movement as well as you possibly can. We are all guilty of overlooking the small things during everyday training; we often get caught up in the numbers and being as explosive as possible, throwing caution to the wind, which more often than not sacrifices lifting technique, which increases the chances of injury, and will eventually run you into a wall. Our bodies can only take so many beatings before they break. Ask anyone who has been in the sport of powerlifting for 10+ years, and they’ll all tell you to focus on being technically proficient, and the numbers will follow.
Take advantage of your deloads, take the time to focus on movement and pay attention to your body. Look at how your body under the lighter loads. What is it telling you? If you find you aren’t moving well under subpar loads 60% or lower, do you honestly think you are moving well under loads substantially heavier? You guessed it, NO! This is why it is important to take advantage of this time under lighter loads. We must walk before we run.
De-loads will also give you some time to decompress the mind. Meet preps are stressful, not only on your body but on your mental state. We get invested in what we’re training for, we think about our max effort attempts or programmed numbers all day, we get overworked mentally without even knowing it. Give yourself the chance to relax. Stop and smell the coffee, isn’t that what they say? Next time a deload is programmed give it try, slow down, relax your mind, focus on your body, listen to it, make the adjustments, learn from the mistakes. The weight is light but it doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it. The next time you find yourself in a deload, give it your full attention, you might find yourself learning much more than you ever expected.