Everyone knows this but it’s still amazing how many people are regularly getting injured.
Nothing puts the brakes on your results like a nagging shoulder problem or a tweaked lower back. When you’re training day in day out, these things can creep up on you and before you know it you’ve snapped your sh*t up!
One way to combat this is to include deload weeks in your training plan.
This means reducing the intensity of your training so that you are still stimulating the muscles, but not looking to train to the extent that causes the level of damage that leads to growth as we usually would.
A deload week is no fun!
Lifting less weight than usual and not challenging your body gets dull fast! These days my preferred solution is to use a contrast week instead.
What is a contrast week?
On a deload week you would do what you normally do but with less weight, sets and reps.
A contrast week is straying completely from what you usually do and getting out of those same repetitive movement patterns (there’s a reason ‘overuse’ injuries exist!).
The more different from you normal training programme you can get, the better!
If you normally lift weights, try your hand at boxing, mountain biking, swimming, mobility work or even yoga!
What are the benefits?
The most obvious benefit is allowing those niggling aches and pains to subside before they turn in to a full blown injury.
Yes, training in the gym is great for your health but your joints can take a hammering over time and are often the limiting factor (especially if you’re not keeping on top of your mobility and stabilisation work!).
Subjecting your body to something it’s not used to is going to allow you to work on a different area of your total body fitness.
When you are used to contracting your muscles in a slow and controlled manner in the gym, throwing in something explosive like a few rounds of sparring is going to shock the system!
Another benefit of the contrast week that’s not so obvious is the mental side of things.
Lifting weights can get repetitive (no put intended), even when sticking to a well-structured and varied training plan. A contrast week breaks the monotony and when you get back to your normal routine you’ll be more excited than ever to be pumping iron!
What do we do?
I thoroughly look forward to contrast week and spend the week before planning what fun activities I’m going to try out!
I like to mix it up and do mobility and stabilisation work for two sessions and then use the other two for something more fun.
Here’s what a typical contrast week looks like:
Monday: Mobility and Stabilisation 1
Tuesday: 3 x 5 minute rounds on heavy bag
Wednesday: Mobility and Stabilisation 2
Saturday: Cross-country mountain biking
Mobility circuit 1
(Inspired by the awesome Tony Gentilcore)
1. Foam and ball rolling
2. Hip flexor stretching
1a. Shoulder dislocations
1b. Face pull – 4 x 12
2a. Goblet squat/Sumo squat – 3 x 8 (Not heavy! Focus on glutes)
2b. Scap push up – 3 x 8
3a. Hurdle step over – 3 x 5 (each leg)
3b. Behind the neck pull apart – 3 x 12
4a. Superman plank – 3 x 8 (each side)
4b. Single leg glute bridge – 3 x 8 (each side)
3 x 3 minute rounds on heavy bag
Have fun with it, go all out and mix it up and throw a variety of different punches (jabs, straights, hooks, uppercuts, elbows, knees!).
After each 3 minute round, skip for 30-60 seconds then take a 2-3 minute rest.
- 3 Minutes on heavy bag
- 30-60 seconds skipping
- 2 Minute rest
Mobility circuit 2
1. Joe DeFranco’s Limber 11 mobility routine
2a. Kettle bell swing – 3 x 15 (focus on glutes)
2b. Deadbug on bosu ball – 3 x 15
3a. Stability ball balance – 3 x 30s (raise and lower each arm)
3b. Stability ball hamstring curl – 3 x 10
4. Hanging leg raise – 3 x 8
5a. Band pull apart circuit – 3 rounds
5b. Behind the neck pull apart – 3 x 12
Cross country mountain biking
8-mile ride on a red-graded mountain bike trail.