Ever since I started periodizing my training, I’ve had to grapple with entire weeks of backing off the weights.
As those who lift smartly know, you can’t go hard every single day. There need to be lighter intensity weeks cycled in so that your joints can recover from the stress of hard training. I went hard nonstop for years because I hate backing off the weights. Having to lift lighter during my usual routine makes it very hard for me to get motivated.
But I finally realized that I’m no different than anyone else – I eventually get injured if I don’t spend time recovering. Not only that, but recovery weeks let you come back stronger than ever.
I’d like to point out that we should all be doing the following exercises with some regularity, and if you truly want make strength progress with these movements you’ll need to incorporate them into your workouts every week, not just during recovery weeks.
To make recovery weeks more interesting, I took the advice of fellow weightlifting fiend Deb to incorporate more full-body exercises I neglect when I’m focusing on getting my training split in. Maybe you already do deadlifts, chin ups, pushups, planks, etc., so I’m listing some less common exercises here.
I prefer to sprinkle two of these in per session in while going lighter with a modified version of my usual routine. Bonus: Full-body exercises burn more calories than single-joint or even some compound movements and engage your core. Exercises done in a circuit will also torch more calories.
Tip: Include both push and pull exercises in each session. Go at least 20 percent lighter than you normally would for three to four sets. If going much lighter you can increase the reps.
- Turkish getup. Practice with no weight to start.
- Dumbbell snatch
- Barbell clean and press or ground to overhead
- Overhead squat
- Step, curl, and press
- Kettle bell swings
- Medicine ball squat to overhead press
I also decided to add in balance exercises during my recovery weeks. Again, this type of training is often neglected as we focus intently on the usual plan. And if these exercises train me functionally at the same time, providing a bit of injury prehab, all the better!
- Rotational lift – Single-leg Plate
- Romanian deadlift (2 arm/1 leg)
- 1-leg balancing (eyes closed)
- Squat – single-leg balance
Another idea is to work on agility and speed during recovery week, keeping the volume low. I suppose recovery weeks aren’t too boring after all!
Do you have recovery weeks? How do you go lighter while making it interesting?