In this article I’m going to be discussing deload weeks and specifically why you should use them, when to use them and how to implement them into your training.
What is a deload week?
Well a deload week is a short, planned period of recovery where instead of training at your normal intensity, you’ll give yourself a period of active recovery. Namely by reducing intensity by either lowering loads or lowering reps. You’ll still be in the gym more often than not, but just giving your CNS, joints and mind a little chance to recover from the weeks of arduous training that have gone in before.
Why should you implement a planned recovery phase?
You should be looking to implement a deload week for a few simple reasons;
- They can help you move past a plateau
- Injury prevention
- Allow your body the chance to rebuild, heal and grow
- Give your mind a little rest from the intensity of training
When to dealod?
Theoretically a deload is strategically placed but can also be intuitive. How and why you train will definitely affect when you place a deload.
For me, for bodybuilding purposes, I look to deload intuitively, and generally when I feel pretty banged up with sore joints, connective tissue and reaching a point where I plateau.
However, if you’re competing, you’ll likely deload in the run up to a meet or competition and then directly afterwards as part of a structured training block.
Another method is to use the same frequency between deloads, breaking your training into mesocycles and training blocks where you may have 8-10 weeks of all out work, followed by a deload and repeat.
My personal preference however is to generally deload when I feel pretty fucked and my body is telling me to back off. Generally this comes around every 12 weeks or so, this latest round has been 9 weeks before fitting in a deload.
How to deload
There’s a few options here;
Option 1 is just to reduce load. For this what i’ve advise is working at 60% of your normal working weight for the same sets and reps. Still not going to be “easy”, but much less challenging.
Option 2 is to keep the loads the same, but massively reduce set and rep volume. For me this doesn’t give the CNS as much of a break, so not my favourite method.
Option 3 is to change your exercise selection. Harder to regulate, but will give your body a break from the same movements week in week out. Kind of more applicable to the likes of powerlifters who may go into a bodybuilding phase post comp.
Option 4 is for when you’re struggling with one lift but fine on every other area. In this instance, you deload that lift, work hard on nailing form, still smash your accessories and then go back to it.
Option 5 is a total rest. No training, just take a week off. In the scheme of things, a week on holiday for a break won’t set you back, you’ll come back feeling full of energy and raring to go. I generally don’t train on holiday, and can’t say it’s ever held me back. In fact I’ve hit PRs when coming back from holiday!
So hopefully that answers any questions you may have about deloads and why they’re a very useful tool in your arsenal.
For me, they’re boring but essential, they leave me fired up and ready to go the next time I step into the gym! So I definitely advise you to trust your body and deload when you need to.