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When Listening To Your Body Doesn’t Work

“Hey coach, when should I be taking a break from training”?

“Just listen to your body and you will know.”

I see that conversation played out a lot on the internet and in the gym, and while I agree with its concept, I don’t think it is always implemented or carried out properly.

Since your undies are already in a bunch, let me explain my reasoning.

On occasion, people will tell me that they just listen to their body when it comes to deloading in their training or taking a day or two off. I see several problems with this. The first is that some of the peoples will take copious amounts of preworkout mixes, or a load of caffeine before they lift. This can effectively override your CNS, inhibiting your body’s ability to tell you that something is wrong. That is the point of preworkout, after all: To over stimulate your body. Constantly taking a bunch of preworkout supplements will prevent your body from telling you it is time to take a time out until it’s too late, leaving you on the bench for weeks.

This argument usually comes from those who think they are doing some sort of Bulgarian Training. Bulgarian is great if you are loaded to the gills on PED’s, and if you are loaded to the gills, you will not be doing “Bulgarian” for any real length of time.  Some have even claimed that Russian lifters such as Klokov and Misha do not take scheduled deload weeks, which Marshall has verified as being a lie, since he has personally trained with those kinds of athletes.

I think that everybody wants to do Bulgarian training: Maxing every day with no real rest days. It would be great if we just could just max all the time and see gains with no injuries or need for rest. That is a fantasy world, however. You can look at Bulgarian lifters; they washed out of their own programs pretty quickly because their bodies broke down. On top of that, they couldn’t even compete because they were on so many PED’s.

You might be living in a fantasy world to think that scheduled deload weeks are a bad idea, you are probably not as advanced of a lifter as you think, and a week of light lifting can be tremendously beneficial for you.  When brand new lifters are told to “listen to their body”, what are they supposed to be listening for? They might not know the difference between DOMS and a real injury that is going to affect them down the road. By waiting until something is wrong to fix the problem, you have just screwed yourself over. Taking schedule time off (Even when you don’t think you need it) can offer some benefits to the mentality of your training as well. Going light for a few days can leave you mentally hungry and prepared to hit it hard in the following weeks.

Is it better to take a break when you are operating at 20% and you feel destroyed, or is it better to hit it hard for 2-4 weeks, and take a scheduled deload week, regardless of how fine you think you are? You know my opinion already, I look at the results and longevity of athletes who followed scheduled deloads. How about you?  Leave your opinion in the FB comments.


11 thoughts on “When Listening To Your Body Doesn’t Work

  1. Overheard Bruce Willhelm once say when asked about deloading “what the fxck is that?”

  2. Nice timing on this article, I was just at an Oly seminar this weekend that was hosted by long-time coach Steve Miller at USA Stars and he was talking about how the Bulgarian system was basically a prison-style set up with the athletes lifting 3x a day, 7x a week and that we only hear about the ones who survive. That the vast majority of the athletes in the program leave with debilitating injuries and burnout as their bodies couldn’t take it (even with steroids, et al).

  3. thank you for this info

  4. Haha, yeah I think alot of us have pushed ourselves to the point of breaking once or twice. Now I take a deload week every 4-5 weeks. It definitely helps-even though I’m pretty bored for that week.

  5. I am a 42 year old novice lifter and father of 6. By novice I mean i that i had never bench pressed before this year. That being said I hate deload week. It feels as if i am just wasting time. However at 42 I don’t heal as fast as the young. So i take every 4th week easy.

  6. Love the article. I haven’t read alot about deload weeks, but I realized sometime during my training that taking weeks off makes me stronger afterwards. Even though I couldn’t really explain it, I took a week off every once in a while and I’m sticking to it. But you’re right, you’re getting hungry during that week 🙂
    And actually, I’m really wondering why almost no one talks about deload weeks (I’ve only read about it once), you really get the feeling no one is doing it and you start doubting yourself.
    So, thank you for confirming that I’m doing the right thing!

  7. Bulgarian lifters always did 3 weeks on/1 week lighter. Basically the 3 heavy weeks were 2-3x/day sn/cj/squat to max, then the lighter week was 4 or 5 days a week sn/cj/squat to max with fewer total attempts (trying for a pr only 2 or 3 times instead of 8+)

  8. Are you against pre workouts? or do you think they’re fine as long as you have deload weeks?

  9. If you need pre workout to train, do something else instead, something you would enjoy more.

  10. That is total bs. Many of the best lifters use pre workout supplements; caffeine at the very least. People don’t take them because they don’t enjoy lifting enough. They take them to go in the gym and crush shit regardless of if they got enough sleep the night before or not. They take them for improved focus and intensity.

  11. I want my diet to be better, certainly, but some days that just isn’t achievable. The supplements helps pick up the slack. Note that it’s not a replacement for a good diet though. Supplements helps, but diet is a must.
    buy supplements

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