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Tips of the week Do not use unloading weeks. Use introductory weeks

Tipps der Woche Verwende keine Entladewochen. Verwende Einführungswochen

Stop wasting 25% of your strength training sessions. Here's a better way to unload and give your recovery a boost

Offload weeks are used by strength athletes to boost recovery and accelerate progress. The basic idea is to continue training but use lighter weights, reduce volume or use different exercises. I, for one, don't like de-loading weeks. Most people don't know how to unload properly anyway. As a result, they basically waste a week of training.

The basic problem is the power of words. When people "unload", in their mind it means they take it easy with training for a week. And in a way, that's how it's supposed to be. But most exercisers end up cutting their workouts too much or cutting the wrong variables.

The result? If you unload every fourth week, you're basically spending 25% of your training sessions not stimulating anything. An off-load week should allow you to recover, but it should also have an impact on your progress that goes beyond simple recovery and supercompensation.

Let's say you vary your training in some way every fifth week (after a 4 week block). Now, during the first week you may not be able to train hard as you are still getting used to the ins and outs of your new plan. When you start a new program, the first week is usually the worst of the entire training block.

So let's say you unload during the last week of a block, and you have a below average workout during the first week of the next block. Now you have 50% of your training weeks that are suboptimal.

A better way

Why not use the fact that the first week of a new plan is likely to be less effective to your advantage? Unload during that week instead of during the last week of a training block.

This week now becomes an introductory week. Use a lower level of demands to get used to the new program and perfect each training session. You will recover from the previous block while taking the next block easy.

Now you're not wasting anything. You will also finish each block strong, which will help you to have a more positive attitude than if you finish a block with an easy week.

Tip: Train one-arm dumbbell snatches

Boost your power and improve your athleticism with this explosive exercise you can do in any weight room

By Eric Bach


Snatches build world-class power and a thick trapezius. The problem is that most exercisers sit in a constant kyphotic position, looking more like the Hunchback of Notre Dame than an athlete. Combined with a workout dominated by pressing and poor mobility/stability, barbell snatches can lead to shoulder pain.

One-arm dumbbell snatches are the perfect middle ground. You get explosive hip extension plus unilateral overhead strength in a more shoulder-friendly position. As an added benefit, one-arm overhead training forces your quadratus lumborum (a muscle that helps stabilize the core) to come into play and also trains your lateral obliques.

Bonus: Unlike barbell snatches, you can do this exercise in any gym.

One-arm dumbbell snatch

  1. Start with a dumbbell between your legs in a hanging position.
  2. Move the dumbbell upwards with momentum, with the force coming from your hips and fully extending your hips.
  3. Move your elbow far up and catch the dumbbell overhead with your knees slightly bent.

Tip: Perform squats with weight plates

Correct your valgus knee collapse and you will improve your gluteus recruitment and be able to move heavier weights during squats. This exercise will help you do just that.

By Joel Seedman, PhD


By eliminating valgus knee collapse (an inward buckling of the knee), you will immediately improve gluteus activation and function. When the knees and feet collapse inward or turn inward, the gluteus loses significant contractile ability. To avoid this, imagine screwing your feet into the floor and pushing your knees outwards so that your ankles and knees are locked.

Also, when doing lower body exercises, imagine that you are "spreading" the floor with your feet. Apart from increasing the activation of the larger gluteus maximus, resisting adduction also increases the recruitment of the smaller hip muscles. A simple exercise that will help you address valgus knee collapse is squats with weight plates.

Squats with weight plates.

Using a stance that is slightly wider than your shoulder width, take one or more 20 kilo weight plates (stacked on top of each other) in your hands and place the weight between your legs and perform squats. To place the weight plates between your legs you will have no choice but to spread your knees. This is an excellent preparatory exercise to perform before heavy squats to internalize an efficient squat pattern.

Tip: Lose more fat, stop training in a fasted state

It turns out that cardio training in a fasted state leads to less fat loss and increases the risk of muscle loss.

Christian Thibaudeau


People believe that exercising without food means less readily available energy, leading to a depletion of energy reserves (fat and glycogen) to provide the required training energy. In theory, this would lead to increased fat loss. In fact, studies have shown that you mobilize more stored fat when you exercise in a fasted state. But that's not the whole story.

Fat loss is not about what happens during the training session, it's about what happens in response to your training throughout the day. What happens to your resting metabolic rate during the 24 hours after your workout? What will the hormonal milieu look like as a result of your training session? And what will the effects be on your muscle mass?

What happens during the training session?

Advocates of training in a fasted state would claim that you will have more training energy as adrenaline and noradrenaline levels rise more during a fasted state workout. In reality, however, training in a fasted state (especially if it has been going on for a while) has been shown to decrease both your work capacity and your mental tolerance for physical work. This results in less effective training sessions.

What happens to your energy expenditure at rest?

A study by Paoli et al (2011) compared 36 minutes of cardio exercise at 65% of maximum heart rate in a fasted state and a non-fasted state. An analysis of the respiratory exchange ratio (RER) concluded that more fat was used as an energy source in the fasting state, but the opposite was true after the exercise session. In fact, fat utilization over a 24-hour period after exercise was significantly higher in the group that had not exercised in the fasting state.

In the fasted state, the subjects burned a little more fat during the 36 minutes of the exercise session, but they burned less fat during the 24 hours after exercise. The end result was that more fat was used within 24 hours when the exercise session was NOT performed in the fasted state. This was confirmed by the fact that oxygen consumption remained higher in the non-fasting group over 24 hours (higher oxygen consumption means more fat burning, as oxygen is needed for the aerobic energy pathway that uses fat).

Here is the conclusion of the study "When moderate endurance activity is performed to lose fat, fasting before exercise does not increase fat utilization. Instead, activity after a light meal is advisable."

Of course, you can continue to cite the many studies that show that cardio exercise in a fasted state during exercise sessions burns more fat, as this is true. However, the point is that cardio training in a fasted state results in lower resting energy expenditure (fewer calories burned at rest) and lower overall fat utilization over a 24-hour period.

What about the hormonal response?

Exercisers know the catabolic effects of cortisol on muscle tissue. We fear it because it can break down muscle so that it can be used as an energy source, making it harder to build muscle when cortisol levels are high. But cortisol also performs a useful function during exercise: it mobilizes stored energy.

When you exercise, cortisol is responsible for making energy available. The more you have to rely on stored energy (muscle glycogen or body fat), the more cortisol you will release. And the more cortisol your body releases, the longer it will take for your cortisol levels to return to normal after training. As long as cortisol levels are elevated, your body is in a catabolic state. So if your body produces too much cortisol during your training sessions - which is likely to happen if you do cardio training in a fasted state - then your risk of losing muscle mass will be higher and building muscle will obviously be much harder.

And then there's the fact that fasted cardio increases AMPK more than non-fasting cardio. When AMPK levels are high, this has a negative effect on protein synthesis. Cardio training in a fasted state therefore makes it harder for you to build muscle.

So why do competitive bodybuilders do it?

I hate to play the chemical comparison game because it can't explain everything, but in some cases it can. Today, pretty much every competitive bodybuilder worth their name uses chemical assistance. Even bikini class competitors use this stuff.

Using a chemical support helps exercisers avoid the problems caused by cardio training in a fasted state. Who cares about elevated cortisol levels when using anabolic steroids that increase metabolism throughout the day and reduce the effects of cortisol? What do you care about elevated AMPK levels if you are in a continuous anabolic state? And why would you care about a reduction in metabolic rate over 24 hours if you're using stimulants like clenbuterol or thyroid hormones?

I'm not saying that chemically enhanced bodybuilders have it easy or that they don't work hard. I'm just saying that in some cases like this, the limitations that apply to natural exercisers may not apply to these exercisers.

Tip: Used rollouts with resistance bands for your abs

As if the ab wheel wasn't hard enough - we're making it even more challenging.

By Ben Bruno


Ab wheel rollouts are a great exercise when it comes to working the front core, but they quickly become quite easy for strong exercisers. Unless you're doing sets of 30+ reps, you need to make this exercise more challenging and heavier.

You can do this in a number of different ways, all of which have their advantages and disadvantages. One way is to switch to standing rollouts where you start from the feet instead of the knees, but this can lead to injury. Using a weight vest also works, but too much weight will change the leverage ratios in a way that makes maintaining good form difficult and puts more stress on the shoulders than the core.

The best option: rollouts with resistance bands

This variation offers a significant additional challenge compared to using bodyweight without changing leverage ratios or compromising your ability to move freely. In addition to this, it offers adapted resistance - they are lighter at the point of full extension where you are weakest. It also takes the strain off the shoulders when they are at their most vulnerable position. Rollouts with resistance bands are usually performed with a straight forward resistance band so that the resistance is primarily in the direction of movement. While this is fine, angling the band 45 degrees while you continue to perform the movement as normal creates a new challenge.

You are still moving purely on the sagittal plane, but you must simultaneously resist the pull to the side by the band, forcing you to stabilize on the frontal plane and the transverse plane to resist rotation and lateral flexion, thereby working the lateral muscles of the midline and the muscles responsible for midline rotation.

I call these exercises "anti" rollouts because they train anti-extension, anti-rotation and anti lateral flexion at the same time.


This exercise is much harder than it looks. The band will have a tendency to pull you towards its anchor point, especially when you reach the point of full extension, so it is important that you make sure you move back and forth in a straight line.

If you don't have a training partner to watch out for this, it's helpful to use a reference point in front of you to help you stay on a straight line. You can easily increase or decrease the level of difficulty by using an anchor point for the band that is further to the side or less to the side of you. The further away this is from your side, the more difficult the exercise becomes.

Tip: Perform the Russian Fighter pull-up program

This simple plan involves increasing your pull-up repetitions. You only need a few minutes a day

By Dan John


Pavel Tsatsouline introduced me to the Russian Fighter pull-up program. It's a multi-week program that involves increasing the number of repetitions. For 6 days a week, you perform 5 sets of pull-ups with a very specific repetition pattern. If you manage a maximum of 5 repetitions, you do the following:

The 5RM Russian pull-up program

  • Day 1:5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Day 2:5, 4, 3, 2, 2
  • Day 3:5, 4, 3, 3, 2
  • Day 4:5, 4, 4, 3, 2
  • Day 5:5, 5, 4, 3, 2
  • Day 6:No training
  • Day 7:6, 5, 4, 3, 2
  • Day 8:6, 5, 4, 3, 3
  • Day 9:6, 5, 4, 4, 3
  • Day 10:6, 5, 5, 4, 3
  • Day 11:6, 6, 5, 4, 3
  • Day 12:No training
  • Day 13:7, 6, 5, 4, 3
  • Day 14:7, 6, 5, 4, 4
  • Day 15:7, 6, 5, 5, 4
  • Day 16:7, 6, 6, 5, 4
  • Day 17:7, 7, 6, 5, 4
  • Day 18:No training
  • Day 19:8, 7, 6, 5, 4
  • Day 20:8, 7, 6, 5, 5
  • Day 21:8, 7, 6, 6, 5
  • Day 22:8, 7, 7, 6, 5
  • Day 23:8, 8, 7, 6, 5
  • Day 24:No training
  • Day 25:9, 8, 7, 6, 5
  • Day 26:9, 8, 7, 6, 6
  • Day 27:9, 8, 7, 7, 6
  • Day 28:9, 8, 8, 7, 6
  • Day 29:9, 9, 8, 7, 6
  • Day 30:No training

Take a break for a few days and then test your new maximum number of pull-up repetitions.

What if you can do more than 5 reps?

If you can do more than 5 reps, increase the weight. Use your maximum weight for 3 repetitions. So if you can do 3 reps with 7.5 kilos on your belt, just follow the 12 day program below. Use the same weight for all 12 days.

  • Day 1:3, 2, 1, 1
  • Day 2:3, 2, 1, 1
  • Day 3:3, 2, 2, 1
  • Day 4:3, 3, 2, 1
  • Day 5:4, 3, 2, 1
  • Day 6:No training
  • Day 7:4, 3, 2, 1, 1
  • Day 8:4, 3, 2, 2, 1
  • Day 9:4, 3, 3, 2, 1
  • Day 10:4, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Day 11:5, 4, 3, 2, 1
  • Day 12:No training

Take a break for a few days and then test your new maximum number of repetitions for pull-ups with this weight.


By Christian Thibaudeau

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