In the last article, you read about five great reasons to train heavy. Training heavy is the gold standard for accruing size and strength but all of that hard pounding on your body does eventually take a toll. You will find that eventually your return on effort starts to dwindle and your zest for training also takes a hit. These are signs that you're approaching a zone of overtraining which is something you want to avoid completely. If and when you do find yourself in this position, don't immediately think you have to stop training altogether and give your body a break, rather take what's known as an active break whereby you're still training and still going to the gym but the weights you are using are much lighter in comparison to your regular routines and utilizing lighter weights from a different approach will help you keep the muscle you've put on while giving your body the break that it needs. So without further ado, here are 5 great reasons to train light.
#1: Active Recovery
As I already mentioned in the introduction, taking time off from the gym completely isn't always the right answer for you and your aspirations. Often times people with take days or even weeks off when things aren't going right and they just assume their body needs that time to heal and rejuvenate. I'm not big on that approach as I believe the better option is to stay in the gym and just use lighter weights. It could be because of my love for training but time out of the gym unnecessarily just doesn't make any sense to me. Instead, keep training, use lighter weights, apply some new intensity boosting techniques into your routine and focus on moving some blood around versus breaking down your body.
#2: Learn New Movement Patterns
One of the best reasons I can think of for training with lighter weights is that is gives you an opportunity to learn new movement patterns within new exercises that you've never used before. Your goal should always be to execute your movements with perfect form so that you can extract all that the exercise has to offer for whichever muscle group you are focusing on. If you are full blown into your heavy phase of training and decide to throw in a new exercise that you don't have much or any experience with, disaster could strike very easily. Rather than having that happen, take the time when you're backing off on the weights to try new exercises and master their movement planes and patterns.
#3: Reunite with the Mind to Muscle Connection
Even though we would like to think that when we're training at our absolute heaviest, we're focusing 100% on making the mind to muscle connection, in actuality that's not always the case. In many instances, when you get under a loaded bar that has the potential to crush you, your only thought is I better be able to move this and your focus quickly shifts to just making it out alive. This is fine and all and you're definitely going to get stronger from doing this as well as bigger, but as a bodybuilder you should be relying upon the mind to muscle connection you make within every single rep you perform to get the most out of the exercises you're using. To ensure this is happening, take the lighter weight approach, slow your rep speeds down and really concentrate on feeling the muscle stretching and contracting as you move the weight from point a to point b.
#4: Pump for Pleasure
You know what, as much as you want to maintain your hardcore and heavy duty approach to training, sometimes it just feels good to go in and get a wicked pump going. You won't have the stress of thinking that you have to squat or deadlift five hundred pounds or the workout was a failure and you don't have to worry about beating your log book or the workout was a waste of time. When you're training lighter and working through this active recovery phase, focus on pumping as much blood into the target muscle as possible and have a lot of fun in doing so. You can use supersets or giant sets or drop sets or any other blood gorging training principle you can think of which in itself will be a new stimulus for growth as well. If you can leave the gym feeling like someone filled your muscles up with air from a bicycle tire pump, then consider it a successful day.
#5: Totally New Workout Experience
When you train at your heaviest within the realms of safety and insanity, you know just how hard it can be on you. After a heavy and intense workout, chances are all you feel like doing is lying down on the floor and not moving for the time being. Well, when you train with lighter loads, you probably won't feel this way and you may even have a little more energy left to do some other things in the gym that you don't normally do. Abs, for example, don't usually get trained after a heavy session with the weights because the last thing you want to do is crunch your midsection when you feel like puking. So training lighter will allow you to train them. You could also perform some cardio after your weight session as well. You already have your Super Freaks on, so why not make use of them? Finally, you can allot more time for stretching and additional functional work which you probably haven't even given any thought to whatsoever.
In the grand scheme of things, the goal should be to be able to train when you want whenever you want. The last thing you need to do is beat yourself up so bad that you can't even fathom the idea of going into the gym for yet another beating. If you schedule out your year and plan heavy phases in conjunction with lighter phases, you'll find that you'll have more days in the gym than not which will go a long way in helping you attain all of your physique goals.
Author: Dana BushellAST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc