Why Do We Program "Deloads"?
I received an excellent question from one of my CRT students, who is pursuing her certification for the Building Blocks Program, and I am choosing to write this blog to answer her question because in truth---everyone doing CRT needs to understand this concept.
" Should there be a deload week every 6 weeks?"
Now, for starters, if you are reading this question and have NO idea what a deload week is---then perhaps you might need a little more education around the idea and it's value. To answer this question directly, with a yes or no--- the answer is No.
> keep reading.
In the very beginning phases of CRT, I program the weekly weights so that the resistance isn't heavy enough or physically taxing that it warrants frequent deload weeks. The purpose of the Building Blocks programming is NOT to see how heavy we can pull ( if you recall)...It is to introduce progressive overload, expose the dog's body to time under tension, and create mental resilience.
Deload weeks are placed strategically in your dog's programming to help provide their body a break, a chance to recharge. Now, with that being said and my prior statement of " the weight SHOULD NOT be heavy enough to warrant a break for the dog's body"--- why do I put a deload week in the beginning 12 weeks of programming? Several reasons.....
1. I utilize deload weeks to break up the continual pattern of "heavier" weights. If you take a brand new dog and continually increase weight every single time you go out to do a session--guess what? It won't be fun anymore. Your dog's enthusiasm starts to decline---and pretty soon, they won't want to do it anymore. Dog's learn in concepts of patterns----and I don't want to set them up for anticipation of always feeling like the weight gets heavier. In the second part of my CRT program, the Digging Deeper program, you begin to learn and understand the factors that effect performance and dynamic effort. (stay tuned, or keep moving along in the programs!). You will see more deload weeks in the advancing material ;)
2. I want their mind to reset--not body. That deload week that is placed within my programming for the Building Blocks phase is more about the mental well being, and mental break---not the physical one. ( at least NOT yet). At the resistance weights that most of the dogs are using, we haven't placed their muscles under enough duress to need time off and "recharge". If you follow my programming, this is also why your rest and recovery days are instituted--so be sure you are properly doing those!
3. Practice makes perfect. The introduction to the concept of a deload week in the Building Blocks program, provides an opportunity for the dog and handler to get a chance to practice what it means to do activities outside of CRT. For one week, you do no CRT sessions. You and your dog do other fun activities--that work on creating a healthier, stronger relationship. I introduce you to the idea, because if you continue on, in the programming, it gets harder. The deload weeks will be needed, because the intensity of the sessions change, the dog's mental resilience is tested, and the relationship is challenged. If you have never practiced the idea of deload--- you won't the first time to be when things get tough!