Also known as Earthing, grounding is still considered to be on the fringe of science. While usually regarded as a complete pseudoscience, grounding does have a growing body of research alleging benefits.
The practice of grounding involves being in direct physical contact with the Earth. Or being grounded via an electrical ground. There are an increasing number of business producing grounding devices that facilitate grounding even when not plausible to be in direct contact with the Earth.
While quality research is relatively recently starting to come out, the practice of grounding is not new. There are many proponents of grounding who swear by the benefits the practice can offer.
Among the many benefits reported by supporters and researchers are:
Reduction of inflammation
Improvement in sleep quality
Improved blood flow
Recovery from exercise
How It Works
The way grounding or Earthing is said to work is quite simple. The Earth, naturally, has a mild negative charge. Throughout our daily activities such as being indoors, wearing rubber soled shoes, etc., our bodies build up a positive charge. These same activities leave us unable to discharge the positively charged particles we accumulate. By being in contact with the Earth, our bodies are able to release those charged particles.
Aside from the very simple way of being outside in the grass or dirt, there are some other ways to ground yourself. As mentioned before, many companies are producing devices that allow you to ground yourself even indoors. One of these devices is an Earthing sheet. An Earthing sheet plugs into the existing ground wire in your home or office, when the sheet is placed on your body, it allows your charged particles to discharge. Another method of grounding is to prevent the buildup of positively charged particles in the first place by using earthing shoes. Inside Earthing shoes a small conductor creates a ground, simulating being in direct contact with the Earth. One other way to be grounded, even indoors is an Earthing mat. An Earthing mat works similarly to an Earthing sheet, but more appropriate for under your feet at your desk or sitting on the couch. They are ideal for working at a computer as they help to reduce EMF (electromagnetic field) disruption.
Whether grounding/Earthing works remains to be conclusively seen. People that like it swear by it, and whether or not the benefits they report are placebo or not, they’re feeling better. That counts for something, right?
Deloading is a common aspect in many training routines. During a deload training is reduced in frequency, intensity, volume, or a combination of these dimensions. A deload will most often last a week.
There are a few reasons for a deload period. The most common reasons are:
Avoid a plateau in performance: The concept of a deload is based on the principle of supercompensation. Simply put, the body is always trying to adapt. So after a certain amount of time/stress put on the body, it will begin to adapt and gains in strength or performance will plateau.
Avoid aggravating recurring injuries: If you have a past injury a deload week may be necessary to avoid another injury. A deload week is much better than months lost to injury
Physical and/or mental recovery: Physical recovery is an obvious reason for a deload. Recovery from fatigue is vital to improving strength, performance, and hypertrophy. Mental recovery is often overlooked. Pushing your body daily or even several times a week is draining on mental resources. Without proper recovery, those resources will deplete. A routine for improving strength will tax the nervous system even more so, so a deload week will help to maintain steady progress with these types of routines.
For the most part, routines will have a deload week built in around the fourth or fifth week. Depending on your goal or the purpose of the routine (hypertrophy, strength, etc.) when the deload is scheduled may be different. However as a main reason for deload is to avoid injury and avoid plateaus, if you feel that you need to deload at week 3 so be it. And if you’re at week 5 and feel great, don’t feel you have to deload simply because the routine says so. Trust your body.
The way you deload matters on preference, goals, and how much you feel you need to deload. The different dimensions that can be manipulated during a deload are:
Frequency: Simple. If you normally exercise 5 days a week, reduce the number to 2-3 sessions a week.
Volume: Use the same weight and number of reps, but reduce the number of sets performed by about 60%.
Intensity: Using the same set/rep scheme, but with weight reduced by 40%-60%.
Exercise selection/modality: If you’re a hardcore weightlifter, try a week of cardio (running, swimming, biking, etc.) or vice versa. Body weight circuits is another good alternative to your usual lifting routine. Even exercise selection is a good way to deload. If compound exercises are your thing, try a week of machines, make a circuit out of it.
Another effective and fun way to deload is to try a whole different method of activity. For example, I discovered hot yoga during a scheduled deload last year, and have been going to yoga ever since. Get out of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to try something new, you’ll be better for it. And when you do get back to your routine, you’ll appreciate it that much more and maybe have a new passion as well.