Sunday Sweat Talk {Deload Weeks}

Good morning! It’s been a few weeks since we’ve had a Sunday Sweat Talk.

Sunday Sweat Talk

Let’s talk about…

Deload weeks

The past week has definitely been an off week for me, in both my workouts and in my day-to-day. After my test the week before and my weekend away in Vermont, I was already feeling generally “behind” in things like cleaning the house, bills, getting some things done for the weddings I’m in this summer, and keeping up with this blog. I’m getting better at going with the flow for that kind of stuff, but this week other life things just got in the way. I overslept on Monday, which threw off my entire day and workout plan. On Wednesday night, I was in the emergency room with a family member until 4am (everything is okay), so I did not teach my Thursday morning class. I also called out sick from work and cancelled plans I had to meet up with Steph and Caroline for dinner that night. I honestly just felt exhausted to the max, and only yesterday did I finally feel a little more rested.

Because life just sometimes gets in the way, my workouts were a little less frequent and less intense last week, especially toward the end:

Morning yoga class with Perfect Vermont

Perfect Vermont: Yoga Class

20 minute walking incline treadmill workout + lifting for upper body

Took Liz’s kickboxing class, and taught a lower body and abs focused class in my class


2 mile very light run

Outdoor Run



I feel like a past Athena would have harped on this, but to be honest, I welcomed the extra rest days this week. I simply did not have enough energy to give it my all at the gym, which sometimes is more frustrating to me than skipping workouts all together. I know that this kind of week is an exception, not the norm, and I’ll be just fine once things calm down a bit.

This week was certainly not planned, but adding deliberate deload weeks or days into my training plan is something I actually want to start paying more attention to as an essential part of progressing more with some of my heavier lifts. Deload weeks don’t necessarily need to be a full week, but they do involve deliberate and planned time off from training, time that lasts more than just one or two days. It’s time taken to honor your body because you know that you’ve worked hard and your body it needs to recover, repair, and grow stronger.

Some people might think that deload weeks are a waste of time or an excuse to be lazy and not go to the gym. However, there is a lot of scientific research out there that speaks to their benefits, breaking out of fitness plateaus being just one of them. For a couple of articles on the benefits of deload weeks, check out this post on Tony Gentilcore’s site and this post by Mark Sisson. <—both great resources.

If you are not following a training plan that already has deload weeks built into it, here are some signs you should look for that indicate you may need to scale back a little:

  • Plateauing or getting weaker — when you cease to see progress and your lifts are suffering, decreased performance
  • Excessive soreness — sore joints, certain parts of the body consistently “nagging” at you, delayed recovery time
  • Disinterest in exercise — not getting enjoyment in an activity you usually really like doing
  • Physical indications — lack of energy (like me this week!), mood changes, fatigue, etc.

So what are some ways you can deload? You don’t have to stop completely and throw yourself into complete rest or a sedentary lifestyle for the week. Yes, some days should be complete rest, but on the other days you can try  “unloading” as opposed to “deloading” by decreasing your weights, sets, and reps. Work on joint mobility. Stretch. Throw in some active recovery workouts such as walking or light jogging or rowing. Do yoga. Foam roll.

Foam Roll

Oh, and one more thing. Taking a deload week is NOT going to make you “fat” or cause you to lose all your progress. So get that out of your head right now. Stick with your nutrition, get back into the swing of things the following week (as long as your body isn’t telling you otherwise), and you’ll be just fine.

Readers, time to chat. Do you consider deload weeks an essential part of your training plan? Do you take more time than just one rest day to allow your body proper recovery? What are your favorite ways to actively recover? What are some ways you allow yourself to just go with the flow when life gets in the way?

For more Sunday Sweat Talk topics:

Sunday Sweat Talk {Next Fitness Star: Power Sculpt Series}

Morning! Time for our Sunday fitness chat.

Sunday Sweat Talk

Let’s talk about…

Next Fitness Star: Power Sculpt Series

The folks over at Women’s Health recently sent me a copy of their new DVD, Next Fitness Star: Power Sculpt Series with Next Fitness Star competition winner Stacie Clark. Stacie was discovered by Women’s Health through a nationwide search for “the next fitness star.” Among thousands of applicants, she was awarded the title which included developing this original DVD series, appearing in the January/February issue of Women’s Health, and being a new face of fitness for the brand.

Women's Health The Next Fitness Star

This DVD has four different workouts on it, all with the philosophy of “burning calories, not time.” I love that mantra! Here’s the description of each segment:

  • 10 Minute Belly Melt: Designed to target your entire core, this workout consists of 10 exercises performed for 60 seconds each. You’ll get the “six-pack” effect, and you’ll feel great.
  • 15-Minute Speed Shred: Tighten, tone and torch your entire body.
  • 20-Minute Metabolic Boost: It’s all about timed-interval supersets. The result? Maximize your time, burn fat, and tone all over.
  • 30-Minute Total-Body Blast: We’ll alternate between upper and lower body moves, keeping your heart rate up to maximize calorie burn and build lean muscle. Bonus for you? A strong core & butt burner to complete the workout.

These workouts come in handy if you are pressed for time, can’t make it to the gym, or prefer working out in the comfort of your own home. You’ll need little equipment, but at least a pair of dumbbells, a mat, and a bender ball (or another ball around the same size). My favorite segment of the four is the ten minute belly melt. The moves are tough (lots of plank work at the beginning!), and each move is done for 60 seconds with little to no rest in between. By the end my abs were definitely feeling it.

Women's Health Next Fitness Star

While I enjoyed the other segments and jotted down some new moves to use in my classes (always a bonus!), I found myself wanting a bit more out of the workouts. For example, when switching from one exercise to another during the thirty minute total body, I felt like I could have continued for more reps. Or maybe my at home weights weren’t heavy enough now that I’ve made the switch to heavier lifting? This DVD was the perfect choice for me last Saturday though, since I was sick and looking to take things down a notch. And I’ll definitely go back to these again on days when my time is really limited.

That said, I do still recommend this series if you are on the hunt for a solid workout DVD. I think it’s a good choice for those who don’t want to workout for more than 30 minutes or for those who consider themselves at more of a beginner to intermediate fitness level. I always have to remind myself that I’m just a weirdo who craves more than 30 minutes of exercise a day.

Let’s talk about…

My weekly workout log

Here’s the quick rundown of last week’s workouts:

Spin Bike

  • Sunday: 20 minute incline walking on the treadmill + this legs and shoulders workout
  • Monday: 10 minutes rowing, the stability ball ab circuit from this workout, 10 minutes cycling
  • Tuesday: 20 minute incline walking on the treadmill + taught my class with an upper body pyramid focus
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Taught my class with a total body supersets theme
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 2 mile walk/run intervals (working that strength back up in my ankle!) outside + 30 minute at home bosu workout

This week I’m subbing some extra classes at Oak Square if you feel so inclined to come to any of them. Along with my regular classes, I’m subbing 5pm spin on Monday, 6pm burn and build on Tuesday, and 6pm burn and build on Thursday (although I’m trying to get a sub for a sub for this one). Hope to see you guys throughout the week!

Readers, time to talk! Do you tend to workout more at home or at the gym? Do you prefer longer or shorter workouts? Ever heard of Stacie Clark or the Women’s Health Next Fitness Star? Think I should apply? 😉

For more Sunday Sweat Talk topics:

Disclaimer/disclosure: I was not paid to write this post, but I was provided the Stacie Clark workout DVD from Women’s Health free of charge. I also received a free copy of the January/February issue of Women’s Health magazine. As always, all opinions are my own.

Sunday Sweat Talk {Exercising While Sick}

Morning! Did you remember to spring forward last night? I’m bummed about the lost hour of sleep, but totally psyched for sunnier afternoons as we approach springtime. It’s almost here!

Anyways, time for our Sunday chat.

Sunday Sweat Talk

Let’s talk about…

Exercising while sick

This week I’ve had a pretty nasty cold. It started on Wednesday afternoon at work while I was hibernating away in the tiniest of rooms preparing for the rollout of a new presentation called Be Remarkable. By the time I got home on Wednesday night, I felt achy and knew if I didn’t get a full night’s rest that I’d be feeling much worse. Since Thursday I had my 6am class, the presentation in the afternoon, and a wellness networking event at night, I knew that something had to give. I knew I just needed to listen to my body and get that extra hour or two of sleep, so I arranged for a friend to sub my Thursday morning class (thanks, Aloisia!). While it helped, I’ve still been sniffling, sneezing, and congested. Gross.

Because I haven’t been feeling 100%, I decreased the intensity of my workouts a bit this week. I mean, it’s awfully hard to power through a tough sweat sesh when you can’t breathe.

Here’s how my week in workouts looked:

Weekly Workouts

  • Sunday: Gym date with my friend Ashley. I lifted for chest/back and did my medicine ball ab circuit.
  • Monday: 30 minutes on the spin bike on my own + three rounds of the stability ball core strength moves from this workout <—I did the ab moves in a 15/12/10 rep scheme, and they left my abs sore the next day for those of you who commented last week you love sore abs!
  • Tuesday: Two A Day Tuesday. I did a modified kickboxing then taught a very loose Tabata class in my class. I say “loose” because I was definitely not doing a good job keeping track of time.
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Rest (not feeling well)
  • Friday: 50 minutes steady cardio (was craving that to work through some of my congestion)
  • Saturday: At home fitness DVD instead of heavier lifting (decreased time and intensity)

So how do I decide whether to rest or exercise when I’m not feeling well?

Typically I go by what I like to call “the neck check.” If the symptoms of my sickness are located above the neck, then I usually will continue to exercise.

Above the neck symptoms include:
–a sore throat
–a stuffy nose

However, if the symptoms of my sickness are located below the neck, I will declare it a rest day not only to give myself proper time to recover and feel better, but also so I don’t contaminate the gym and equipment with my germs!

Below the neck symptoms include:
–chest congestion / bad coughing
–body aches

When I do exercise through any above the neck symptoms, I definitely decrease the intensity of my workouts like I mentioned in my workout log above. I stick with lighter to moderate intensity so I can still work up a sweat and try to drain some nasal congestion without overdoing it. I know that pushing too hard with heavy and intense exercise may actually reduce my immune function, make me feel worse, and delay my feeling better. Exercising at max intensity with above the neck symptoms is never my goal!

Of course, everyone is different, so the best recommendation I have is to just listen to your body, stay hydrated, and rest up so you can jump back into it in no time.

Readers, time to talk! Is anyone else battling that cold that’s going around? What’s your general rule of thumb for working out while sick? Does anyone else abide by the neck check?

For more Sunday Sweat Talk topics: