How To Deload - Some Practical Suggestions

Posted on 09 May 2013 08:32

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By Ashiem Matthn

I've noticed way too many people deload way too often and in a way that resembles some newbie to training who needs to take a week off because he's "overworked" after training for ten straight days. There are people who barely hit 90% of their "theoretical" max once and then take a week off or do something low volume low intensity to make up for the "CNS fatigue". It's a joke. This is not what training hard is about and while deloads are crucial they aren't meant for you to be pussyfooting around your training. They're meant to prime you for a bigger challenge.

Here are some thoughts on "Deloading".

You do not have to deload. Once in a while bad workouts happen. It is normal. Nobody stays in this game without having bad workouts and sometimes there are a series of bad workouts one after the other. It is normal.

Unless you are living the life of a professional athlete, life will get in the way and you will be forced to skip workouts. This means your frequency will be reduced and this in itself factors as a deload. Even more likely is you'll have to take a week or a couple of weeks off of training. This is certainly a deload. Most planned deloads, however, do not involve complete cessation of training but rather certain reductions in training.

If you are planning your training around over-reaching constantly, you will need to keep resetting the weight and this is akin to running into a wall, getting slammed, then taking a few steps back and running full force into the wall again and repeating this in the hopes that one day you will break the wall. But at the same time, over-reaching is good and SHOULD be done but it should not be the only thing that is done.

Deloading is about balancing volume and intensity. Volume has a few subcategories below it. It includes volume of an exercise, the number of exercises per session and the number of sessions per week. Intensity on the other hand is just the percentage of your one rep maximum. I am getting into the nitty gritty specifications because I strongly believe that you cannot reduce all forms of volume and intensity and call it a deload. I don't think it can even be called training: it's just taking time off or being lazy.

If any one aspect of volume is reduced: number of sets, number of reps, number of exercises per session, number of sessions; then intensity must either be maintained or increased.

There are people who deload by performing another activity instead of lifting weights. Although anything that reduces the demands of your strength training for a period of time could be considered a deaload, spending a week playing squash or raquetball or soccer or basketball or swimming or any other sport, is not something you should formally introduce into all deloads. Doing something like this has it's benefits because as a trainee you come back with your mind fresh. But there are two drawbacks: you cannot really predict how the activity will affect your body, and so how it will deload your body, you may come back a little weaker - this is not permanent but the lag period in making up for this slack can be annoying. This kind of thing should really be considered a different phase of training or exercise rather than a deload. You could think of it as a general fitness phase or just a fun phase. There are ways to do this for a period of time while maintaining strength with only a minimum of strength training, as well.

There are people who believe that they must deload every 4 weeks or 6 weeks. I do not know the origins of these magical inflexible numbers. Unless one has a definite control over life and can predict their lives months and months into the future, having rigid deload protocols is unfavorable. In my experience, the best kinds of deloads happen when life steps in the way and other commitments creep up unexpectedly. But if you must deload, my number one approach, thanks to Eric, is to maintain intensity and drastically slash the volume. I also reduce frequency from 4 training days to 3 for that deload week.


This page created 09 May 2013 08:32
Last updated 25 Feb 2015 21:53

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