Fatigue management is one of the most important aspects of a well throughout out program because, without it, you’ll lack the ability to move the prescribed weights from session to session, as well as create the adaptive response required to get stronger. Fatigue is a great training tool, while also being detrimental to progress if you don’t manage it effectively. In the following article, I’ll lay out 3 very simple, yet effective ways to manage fatigue in your own training.
Undulate Your Training
I’ve gotten to the point where I talk about training undulation almost daily, and for good reason, because It’s a crucial part of any athlete’s program. It’s simply impossible to progress linearly past the early beginner stages of training and a more well-thought-out approach must be established in order to ensure consistent progress, as well as longevity. There are many different methods used to undulate training and I’m not discrediting any of them, I’m simply laying out the method that I use with my own athletes. I find this to be extremely effective both in overall performance from week-to-week, but also in terms of overall mentality. If an athlete has specific goals laid out for them to hit, they will become more motivated to train and will become less susceptible to “mental burnout”. Training, much like many things in life, has “peaks and valleys”, so planning out when you have the “peak” in your training will allow you to take full advantage of the good days when you’re feeling your strongest.
Weekly Undulation Strategies
This is a concept that I first heard from Chad Wesley Smith of Juggernaut Training Systems a few years back and I’ve since incorporated a similar version of Weekly Undulation into my own athletes' programming. By varying the intensities weekly, but continually driving the total volume an athlete performs throughout the course of a training block you are able to potentiate when to hit rep PRs, as well as when to back off the intensity to allow for a slight recovery, adaptation effect and focus on improving technical proficiency with moderate loads. A few of my athletes, in particular, have responded extremely well to this style of training, but all have seen consistent results.
An example of Weekly Undulation during a Hypertrophy Block would be as follows:
Week 1: 4x8
Week 2: 1x8 @ RPE 7-8, followed by a -10% reduction in intensity for 4x8 back down sets.
Week 3: 5x8
Week 4 (Planned Functional Overreaching Week): 1x8 @ RPE 8-9, followed by a -10% or -15% reduction in intensity for 5-6x8 back down sets.
Week 5 (Deload Week): 4x6-8
As you can see the program calls for top sets ranging from RPE 7-8 and 8-9 every other week, this is typically when rep PRs are performed or matched. This allows the athlete to set goals, but also to continually drive training volume over the course of the training block, eventually accumulating enough training stress and fatigue to warrant a Deload Week.
This may seem like the most obvious way to manage fatigue, but many people neglect to utilize this simple tool that can make a huge difference in how you can perform in a given week, month or throughout the duration of a training year. Taking a rest day is an easy way to dissipate a small amount of fatigue from session to session- coupled with a well thought out undulation approach (whether it’s daily or weekly) it can be a huge factor in determining both longevity and overall progress. I use regularly planned rest days in all of my athletes' training, most commonly after Deadlift Days and before Squat Days due to the sheer nature of those two movements requiring the most recovery. A typical training week would look like this:
It’s extremely important to strategically schedule rest days as to recover from the more physically and mentally taxing training days, so you’re able to continue training effectively throughout a training block. If the fatigue is built up too quickly, you’ll be unable to hit prescribed sets and reps, therefore not making the maximum amount of progress possible in a given block.
The term “Deload” is still the most commonly misunderstood and misused term in the Powerlifting Community. Throughout the years I’ve found there are three common interpretations of a “Deload Week”, 1. Do tons of reps at 50-60% for “the pump”, 2. Max out all your main movements, 3. Take the entire week off altogether. In reality, none of these are an intelligent or an effective use of a Deload, nor are they conducive to progress in a well thought out program. A Deload week should reflect the training done in the previous training block, consisting of a slight decrease in overall intensity, as well as a significant decrease in volume to aid in total recovery, as well as a super-compensation of adaptations. There are a few general guidelines given when structuring a Deload Week, which includes a 10-15% drop in intensity, as well as a 30-40% decrease in overall volume. Although this may change based on an athlete's individual differences, phase in which they are in and proximity to competition, but this is a very good broad, general recommendation for all athletes
Below I will link an article from Dr. Mike Israetel of Renaissance Periodization and Nutrition titled, “Everything You Need to Know About Recovery” where he talks about the importance of rest, Deloading, nutrition and overall recovery. It’s a fantastic read that delves into the deeper aspects of recovery that all serious, competitive athletes should know about.
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