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Deload weeks are not something that everyone thinks about, they are also something that not everyone should be thinking about. However, they definitely have their place within some peoples training, and today I will be giving you the information you need to answer the question, what is a deload week? From there, you can decide if they are right for you, and how you can utilize them.
What a Deload Week is:
A deload week is when you reduce the overall stress your body is receiving from training, this is mainly in the form of volume or weight/intensity being used. Deloads are used to allow your body to “reset” for its next training challenge. Something like a new program, going for PR’s, a competition, etc. Your body has likely experienced a large degree of fatigue during the previous training cycle, and implementing a deload can be beneficial to allow your body to recover.
To put this into context for you, let’s say you just came off an 8-week training cycle, and you are preparing for something rather large (i.e. a new program, PR’s, a competition, etc). You may want to reduce your overall stress, an example being reducing your volume by around 20% and maybe cutting the weights you are using by roughly 25-50% (50% is quite high, but may be what some people need). Keep in mind, this is an example for a general deload to allow your body to reset or recover. Specific needs vary depending on many variables relative to you. This is just giving you an idea of what a deload may look like.
Relation & Training Benefits of a Deload Week:
When deloading, there are numerous things to consider. These include your goals, training history and experience, level of current fatigue and many more. These will all affect what your deload looks like to achieve benefits like recovery, super compensation, and an overall mental and physical break, as well as specific things relative to you. As you can see, you start with things relative to you in order to determine what your deload will look like so you can reap the benefits.
Your goals will determine things like, what you reduce and how much of it. While your training history and experience can determine if you even need a deload and affect things like the length of your deload and the actual workouts. Your current level of fatigue also helps determine things like deload length and the amount of overall stress you reduce. Allow me to put this into context for you in the next part of this article, the implementation of deload weeks.
Implementing Deload Weeks:
Now that we know what a deload week is, and its relation to our training along with its benefits, its time to decide if we even need a deload, and what it can look like if we do. First of all, if you are a beginner, you do not need a deload. I like Alan Thrall’s explanation of a beginner or intermediate who doesn’t need deloads. He says, if you can recover from workouts within 48 hours and are continuing to make progress from linear progression, you do not need a deload week. When progress extends to weekly or monthly, you become an intermediate, still not needing deloads though. This is because your body can recover quick enough and has high enough of a response to training stimulus, that you don’t need a deload week as it is still continually making progress.
Now onto implementing deloads for those who need them. Lets first start with our goal, if your trying to gain strength, consider focusing on reducing volume, this will allow your muscles to still handle heavy loads and work on producing force. If you’re trying to gain muscle, think about reducing the weight you’re using. This will allow you to take a break from the taxing heavy loads, and make the volume easier to manage, while not hugely reducing overall volume. I would suggest dropping both volume and weight used during a deload while putting more of an emphasis on one. This relative to your goal. Of course, you need to see what works best for you. Your experience level will help determine when you need deloads and what they might look like. The more experienced you are, the more frequent you will need to take deloads and the greater you need to reduce your overall stress. This because you need to be handling a lot more stress to begin with to see results, thus you will likely have to take deloads more frequently with bigger drops in overall stress. Your overall fatigue level will help to determine the length of your deloads and also what they will look like. The more beat down you are, the greater the length of deload and drop in overall stress you will need. In some cases, taking a complete week off can be beneficial to give your body a complete break, they are especially beneficial for giving your mind a break. I wouldn’t suggest using these very often, and they are not for everybody or for every circumstance.
After reading this article you know what a deload week is, how they relate to and can benefit your training, as well as how you can implement them within your training. Keep in mind, deloads are not for everyone, and when you take them they can range anywhere from 4 weeks to even 16 weeks as a rough guideline.
I thank you for taking the time to read this article and look forward to this knowledge being able to further benefit your training. As always, if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to reply!
Until Next Time,
Please refer to my liability disclaimer to ensure you know who is responsible for use of this information after reading.