Welcome to deload week

February 7, 2012

Shhh. Did you hear that? That gentle “thunk” was the sound of my shoulders dropping by several inches, from up around the region of my ears back to where they ought to be. Aaaand relax.

Coach has given me a deload week. I knew it was on its way but didn’t know it would start today. The relief! It’s partly physical – I’ve been working damn hard and need a break – and largely mental. Bodybuilding training is hard work, and sometimes the easiest part is the bit you do in the gym. The rest of it is what takes its toll: planning, prepping, thinking, overthinking, rethinking, and trying to fit the rest of your life in around it all.

When you take into account time spent driving to and from the gym (I train both at a gym which is a few minutes’ walk from my house, and at one which is a 30 minute drive away), time spent training, showering, etc, I’ve essentially just been handed 10+ hours, all gift-wrapped with a tag which says “Dear Nicola, please use these over the next week in any way you wish, as long as it’s restful”.

Thunk. That was my shoulders dropping a bit further.

I do love a good list, even when things are meant to be unplanned. So, here is my Deload Week List of Things I’d Really Like to Do If The Mood Strikes (<—- catchy!)

– extra long walks with the dog, listening to podcasts or audio books
baking (for my husband, not for me – yes, I find that restful. Husband, I know you’re reading this, any baking requests?)
– catch up with neglected loved-ones over Skype and phone (shamefully, this includes my own parents and my best friend)
– redeem Groupons (I am a hoarder of Groupons, etc and stockpile things like facials, manicures and other fripperies for occasions like this)
– get a sports massage (this is a definite. As is the phoning of the parents!)
– catch up on blogging (I owe a lot of nice PRs their product reviews!)
– and the ultimate, the big kahuna, the daddy of them all: the DuvetD Day. Don’t know what a DuvetD Day is? It’s a day (ideally) or an evening (poor man’s version) where you go and get a load of DVDs, get the duvet off the bed, make a nest out of duvet, cushions, pillows and living room furniture, ensure drinks and food are close at hand and then hibernate for hours. I think I last did a DuvetD Day in….erm….2007 or something.

I’m already missing training (crazy, I know, but I’m sure any of you who have had enforced rest days or weeks will know what I mean) but that’s just one more example of why deload weeks are so important. They give your body time to rest (and grow!) and your mind time to unravel, regroup and get ready to hit the next block of training even harder.

Do you take deload weeks? What would you do with 10+ “bonus” hours? Which DVDs should I get out of Blockbusters?

Welcome to deload week is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

Physique comp prep, 8 weeks to go: all change!

May 3, 2011

My first bodybuilding comp is 8 weeks on Sunday. EIGHT weeks. That’s, like, two months. Or less. Time flies eh?

I’m trucking along, training hard, lifting heavy and eating well, trying my best to maintain all the muscle I’ve gained whilst cutting body fat so I hit the stage in the best condition possible.

Yesterday, my trainer Kat sent me my new training plans and we had a Skype call to discuss my nutrition goals for the next few weeks. So I thought it was time to update those of you who are interested!

For the past few months I’ve been training in an 8-day cycle, with five lifting sessions every eight days (legs twice, back/triceps once, chest/biceps once, shoulders/back once).

With (just) eight weeks to go, my calories are starting to come down, and it’s no longer realistic to think I’ll be gaining any muscle. The aim is to retain what I’ve worked so hard to gain, and to get rid of body fat so I can show aforementioned muscles to the judges! So my training now is focusing on more cardio and interval training, and a slightly different approach to weights.

Here’s my new 8-day cycle for now – as with anything, we’ll see how it goes. Nothing’s set in stone, we give it a try for a week or two to see how I respond physically, emotionally, hormonally and all the rest of it.

1 (am) interval training (this could be a kettlebell complex, hill runs, a track running session, bike turbo session etc)
(pm) weights – legs & some postural work. This day is a “high” day for calories and carbs – cos I need it!

2 (am) weights – pull – back and biceps
(pm) cardio session (this could be a bike ride or even a long walk with the dog). This day is a more medium/lower calorie and carb day, with carbs (other than those from veg – which I eat with abandon) put mostly before and after training.

3 (am) interval training
(pm) weights – push – chest, shoulders, triceps & yoga/stretching. This is a medium/higher cal/carb day as intervals and weights demand it!

4 ideally some cardio (as low impact as I like) and the all-important posing practice. If I need it, this day can be a complete rest day (although I really should practise posing as often as possible – got to get that pesky left shoulder blade doing what I want it to during my lat-spread!)

and repeat for days 5, 6, 7, 8. 🙂

Yesterday was a day 4, I walked the dog briefly (but briskly!) in the morning and was then persuaded by my husband to come out on my lovely road bike. It was very windy, and I was wiped out afterwards!

Today is a day 1 so, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to swing some kettlebells in front of a somewhat bemused dog….

I’m a bad blogger, no progress pics, but I’ll take some soon….

So that’s it for my very brief update, but I’m happy to answer any questions about my training, preparation, planning or nutrition. Please just ask away!

Physique comp prep, 8 weeks to go: all change! is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Training update

March 31, 2011

Short and sweet post today. A few people have asked me about my training: what am I doing, is it changing as my first show gets closer? The date of my first show is still – *quick check the calendar* – 12 weeks away, so I’m still eating lots and therefore lifting heavy. I am however starting to add some cardio back into the mix. Partly because the weather’s improving, and getting outside to run with the dog or ride my lovely road bike is good for the mind, and partly because I now want to slowly chip away at my body fat as we creep towards showtime (rather than leaving it til nearer the time but having to do it more quickly).

I posted recently about testing the strength goals I’d set myself, and I reported back about a conditioning session I had (more where that came from, coming soon).

I am enjoying it all – no, scrap that, I’m loving it all. I love love love lifting heavy weights (just as well really!) and my long-time love of weight training is what attracted me to this year’s challenge. But, as an endurance athlete, I naturally have an affinity for cardio, too, and I do like running (particularly with my stripey, brown, hairy running partner), road biking and interval training (track running, hill sprints etc). I’m also enjoying coming up with intervals and HIIT sessions in the gym. They usually revolve around cruel and unusual methods involving a skipping rope, a high step and my weighted vest.

So without further ado (and without any pictures), here is my current training schedule. I expect it will change pretty soon.

1 – Session 1: Weights – Legs, session 2: postural work (usually at home)
2 – Session 1: Weights – Back, triceps and abs, session 2: intervals/HIIT
3 – Session 1: Cardio, session 2: yoga (erm, I don’t always get round to this it has to be said!)
4 – Session 1: Weights – Chest, biceps and calves, session 2: posing practice (at home!) (harder than it sounds!)
5 – Session 1: Weights – Legs, session 2: postural work (usually at home)
6 – Session 1: Cardio, session 2: yoga and/or posing practice
7 – Session 1: Weights – Shoulders, more back and abs, session 2: HIIT
8 – OFF or if I simply must do something, yoga or posing. Or a long walk with the dog. Am loving our walks recently: podcast or audio book on the iPod and off we go.

I also try and throw at least a few minutes of posing in at home most days. It’s really hard to get it right and learn it all so it becomes second nature. It’s not a matter of throwing a few shapes, or “posing” as in styling it out in front of the mirror. You have to really engage your brain/muscle connection and get your muscles to understand how you’re asking them to move – and then you have to hold the pose for a while (and it’s not always comfortable). I have particular problems, for instance, with my traps (trapezius muscle). After swimming so much and for so long, they are pretty strong and over-active. It’s like whenever I ask my body to do anything, my traps stick their hand up and say “ooh Miss, Miss! Me Miss, pick me! I know the answer Miss!” I have to try and teach them to stay down, be quiet and let some of the other muscles have their say, but it’s not easy because – for some reason – my brain doesn’t connect to them very well.

Today was day 7 in the cycle, so this morning after breakfast (or as we bodybuilders call it “meal one”) I was in the gym for 45 minutes or so of weights focusing on my shoulders, some back stuff and a little bit of core work. Then I’m just back from my second session of the day (blogging in my running kit). I took myself off to the local running track and did short intervals as fast as I could (which isn’t very fast, but it’s all relative). I wouldn’t always do a track session for intervals but Starbucks had a “free bag of coffee” offer on and track is on the way back.

Hey, whatever motivates you to get out the door 😉

Actually, I lied about no pictures. There was only one other person on the track today. He was small, fast and lean, a little powerhouse. …he was also wearing school uniform…because he was a 5-year-old boy. I’m not sure what he was doing but he was enjoying it, so I stayed to cheer him on over the line before I drove home.

I hope your training is going well.

Training update is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

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