The world of sports performance has made a huge push toward rest and recovery in recent years. This has happened for a few reasons: Cell phones late at night cause athletes to sleep less. A lack of quality nutrition impedes recovery from training. And constant stress doesn’t allow athletes to shift from the “fight-or-flight” sympathetic state into the “rest-and-digest” parasympathetic state. Recovery is absolutely critical, as that is when adaptations occur.
However, with the major focus on rest and the way most training weeks are schedules, athletes frequently run into a common problem.
The Monday Blues
In work and in sport, the human body and brain go through a similar situation. After taking a couple days of rest, neither system is ready to perform at 100%. How many people come into work Monday morning ready to go? The same happens in sport. If Saturday and Sunday are spent relaxing, eating and sleeping, many athletes find their Monday performance suffers. Monday becomes a day to “recharge the batteries” so that effective training can be implemented on Tuesday. Many coaches begin to expect this and Monday becomes a “primer” day to get back into the swing of things.
But what if you don’t have time for that? What if your training program calls for you to lift heavy, sprint fast and/or jump high on Monday? How can you be ready to perform your best? The solution lies in potentiation.
Potentiation is the increase in strength of nerve impulses along pathways which have been used previously, either short-term or long-term.
With the concept of potentiation, as long as fatigue is managed, training forcefully and explosively on Sunday will help forceful and explosive performance on Monday. Instead of doing nothing on Sunday, you can go to the weight room and perform a low-volume, explosive French Contrast circuit for a round or two (I’d recommend those new to this idea of rest day potentiation start with one). The example laid out in the video looks like this:
- Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat x 3
- Bodyweight Split Squat Drop Jump x 3
- Dumbbell Split Squat Drop Jump x 2
- Band-Assisted Split Squat Drop Jump x 3
This should take 10-15 minutes. On Monday, you should feel more explosive and ready to go. Now you can never blame a lackluster workout on the Monday Blues again.
Want something even more simple? Try weighted jumps.
Take 20% of your one-rep maximum Barbell Back Squat and load it on the trap bar. So if your Barbell Back Squat max is 400 pounds, we’re looking for a total load of 80 pounds for our weighted jumps (including the weight of the trap bar itself).
Perform only 3-5 sets of 3-4 jumps. This is something used in The Vertical Jump Protocol to allow for better jump and lift performance on Monday.
Rest and recovery are absolutely essential. But if you’re finding you need to perform at a high level immediately following a day or a couple of days which are mostly filled with relaxation, try integrating just a bit of rest day potentiation. Just a few minutes of explosive work can ensure your next workout will be on point. And remember, less is more here. We’re not trying to burn out your nervous system before your actual workouts take place. We’re just looking to stoke the fire a bit so when things ratchet up during that first real workout of the week, your body’s ready for blazing performance.
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